The man who designed the 'Paheli' haveli

Mumbai, Aug 30 Be it a fascinating Shekhawati style haveli in 'Paheli', a temple in the middle of the desert in 'Dor' or a Portuguese bungalow in 'Bhootnath', production designer Muneesh Sappel's magic is evident in each of these films.

Thursday, August 30, 2007 | 9:28:33 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Mumbai, Aug 30 (IANS) Be it a fascinating Shekhawati style haveli in 'Paheli', a temple in the middle of the desert in 'Dor' or a Portuguese bungalow in 'Bhootnath', production designer Muneesh Sappel's magic is evident in each of these films.

'The production designer is a newly coined term and has become quite popular in last two to three years. His or her responsibility is to create a convincing environment to make the drama effective. And with directors keeping an eye on meticulous details, it is not an easy job,' Sappel told IANS.

Basically, production designer is another name for a set designer or art director.

'We have to do a lot of planning before constructing any set. Whether I am designing a modern or a traditional house, I have to do a lot of research,' said Sappel who has a degree in commercial arts from Lucknow University.

'I prepare sketches that take care of all the details, look for the right furniture etc. Once, I am satisfied with my homework, I start building the sets.'

He is always looking for challenges and will show his creativity once again in Ravi Chopra's 'Bhootnath'. He has created a Portuguese bungalow the film, which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Juhi Chawla and Shah Rukh Khan.

'The film is based in Goa. I have made four sets for the film. I have created the interior of the bungalow here at the Mehboob Studio. It took me almost a month to make it and the cost is around Rs.10 million.

'We have created the same house in Goa where the exterior of the house will be shot. That's the power of cinema and designing.'

Sappel has won many awards. For 'Paheli', which was also India's official entry to the Oscar, he won the best art director trophy at the Zee Cine Awards in 2006.

Talking about 'Paheli', Sappel said: 'The entire film was shot in Film City except the step well sequence and camel race scene. We shot them on location. But the rest and the desert scene with Amitabh Bachchan were all filmed here in Mumbai. We followed the Shekhawati architecture for the haveli.

'I did it again in Chandraprakash Diwedi's period film 'Pinjar'. The entire film was shot here in Mumbai. And I got the best art director award at the Filmfare awards for it.

'However, Nagesh Kukunoor's 'Dor' was shot on location but the temple in the middle of the desert is a set. And we transported all the equipment on camels to make that temple.'

Sappel says he can't transform his ideas into reality on his own.

'Building a set is teamwork. A production designer works with a team of more than 200 people and that includes carpenters, painters etc. To build the set of 'Bhootnath' I hired 200 people. Sometimes, a team is as big as 600 people. For instance, in 'Pinjar' I worked with 600 people and 400 in 'Paheli'.'

The cost of a set depends upon the detailing, said Sappel. 'The sets in 'Paheli' cost around Rs.40 million.'

Sappel has no intention of venturing into direction.

'I prefer being a production designer. Filmmaking is 50 percent creativity and 50 percent management and I don't think I have the flair to do the latter. I am happy doing what I am good at.'

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