Modern Indian Cinema is going through many exciting shifts as per the changing times and tastes of its broad audience base. The Indians films have always been rich in art crafts and style that lures the people from all over the world. Today’s time might witness the paradigm shift in storytelling but even after the years, the glorification of art culture in Indian cinema remained intact in modern times and rightly so.
Indian cinema industry is the most prolific one in the world. With a sacred heritage of cultures and religions, the art and crafts found in various parts of the country is rich. Since film is the representation of real life, these cultures are generally inculcated in various stories along with the use of aesthetic appeal of local arts in production design that offers an audience a satiating viewing experience of rich Indian culture. Mughal-e-Azam, Pakeezah, Parasmani, Umrao Jaan are some instances of memorable masterpieces on celluloid. There are also abundant interesting trivia and facts behind the making of these magnum opus.
Each film has an enchanting story behind its making, films like these are pure labour of love and passion and that’s what the Indian art form is all about. Mughal-E-Azam took 500 days of intense shooting with overwhelming challenges and toughest hurdles but then it was also powered with deep commitment and strong affection for art from all the people working on it. The classic song ‘Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya’ was shot at the replica of Sheesh Mahal with 650 types of different glasses collected from different parts of the world. To avoid the melting of this glass under stringent lighting, a layer of thin wax was put up on it and this way the song was shot by 14 cameras placed at different positions. One can only imagine what level of hard work was done to film this movie during that time. Finally, the result that came was extra ordinary, the film is written down on the golden pages of history and is one legendary example of fineness in film craft. Such is the story of Handicraft labour as well, where artisans from the Indian heartland delve themselves completely into their crafts to bring out the best out of each and every art design they make and that’s what makes handiwork so special.
With the changing times, the production value for a film got expensive with exorbitant different art sets and designs. Indian film industry especially Bollywood is always tempted for lavish and royal sets. In 2002, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a prominent Hindi filmmaker made magnum opus, ‘Devdas’ which turned everyone’s heads on with the extensive use of handicraft jewellery, marvellous costumes, skillful set designs made from costly materials and other wonderful art forms like paintings, murals etc. There many interesting facts about the movie like, in the song ‘Kahe Chedd Mohe‘ the outfit worn by Madhuri Dixit weighed 30 kilograms. She had lots of problems with the dance choreography, but she eventually completed it. Paro’s delicate stained-glass house was erected from November to June – safe, non-monsoon months, Bhansali reckoned. During those months, there were four unprecedented rain showers, which caused the colours in the stained glass to fade, and they had to be retouched regularly. Moreover, trolleys were used over the floors of the house, which led to a lot of chipping. This shows the shoot was definitely not an easy task. The movie is still recognized as a path breaking in terms of art and aesthetics used in film. The film is included in Time Magazine’s top 10 movies of the millennium worldwide. Handcrafted art designs plays a pivotal role in bringing the true essence of gone era, that is what most of the filmmaker believes, too. Ashutosh Gowarikar’s ‘Jodha Akbar’, M F Hussain’s ‘Meenaxi’, Ketan Mehta’s ‘Rang Rasiya’, Sanjay Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’ among many other films have represented well the beauty of Indian fine art.
The antique jewellery, authentic set design, royal costumes are main attractions of such movies where audience get to taste the richness of bygone era which also make them aware about our own ravishing cultural heritage. When the first song ‘Deewani Mastani’ from movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’ came out, it quickly became the talk of the town mainly because of its lavish set design and the pretty costume wore by actress, Deepika Padukone. The song has a replica of Sheesh Mahal from Rajasthan which attracted a lot of curiosity among the audience. For the recent movie ‘Mohenjo Daro’, Ashutosh Gowarikar, the Director wanted such perfection of gone era, he refrained all his lead actors from using any technology during the shooting period.
A production designer on a film works hard to get right ideas for set designs. He is the one who make sure to gather all the authentic objects required to adore in the film. Finding an accurate and genuine handiwork is one meticulous work which makes the production designing of a film very tedious task. Now-a-days the stakes are higher in TV too. Many historical, mythological telly shows is shown using various forms of handicraft products to match with the old charm of gone era.
People are loving and appreciating these efforts in both Films and TV. Government has announced a National Award for best production design in films to motivate the film artists. Nitin Chandrakant Desai, a prominent set designer and a filmmaker has a record of winning this award multiple times for his brilliant set work in movies. Film and TV has a great affinity amongst people, it has a power to change the perceptions. With a constant glorification of handicrafts in Indian films, people might get familiar with the gone era of rich art culture, again. This can be seen as a positive sign to make people love and appreciate the challenging work of handicraft and other old form of Arts.
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