Thota Tharrani's creations for Kammula
There is no one quite like Padmashree Thota Tharrani when it comes to art direction.
The set he created for Mani Ratnam's Anjali was so realistic, it was difficult to believe that they were sets.
The National award winning art director has erected a realistic set incorporating real surroundings for Sekhar Kammula's Life Is Beautiful, releasing this weekend
Image: The set of Life Is Beautiful
'To create a set, you have to understand the director'
To create a set, you have to understand the director and he has to understand you. It is the respect a director gives me that makes me accept a film and not remuneration.
Sekhar Kammula's is a small group and I know all of them from when they were young. I have worked with Sekhar in Leader.
When we were doing Leader, he had mentioned that they would be doing a small film. I promised then that I would be a part of it.
Image: The set of Life Is Beautiful
What Sekhar wanted was an upper middle class colony. I told them to search for a real one as it was a low budget film. We searched but it didn't work out.
Why do we put up a set? For the director to work peacefully without any interference.
A cinematographer also would be happier to light up a secure place. That is why we finally decided to put up a set. It was after quite some time that I was creating a colony for a film.
I erected sets not in any studio but in a real location, integrating sets with the real thing. It was challenging and interesting that way.
In middle class and lower class localities, you see similar houses. I have noticed that in an upper class locality, you see houses that look different. I made the facade of each house different.
Sekhar had shot a few scenes in a house and I found that there was a vacant plot close to a post office. I thought that would be the best place to erect a set.For Mani Ratnam's Anjali, I erected a multi-storey apartment. Here, it was independent houses. We erected a temple close to the colony, a few houses, and also a few flats behind.
Image: The sketch of the colony
I must say something: I love trees and I love to have trees in all my sets.
If there are trees in an area, I create sets around it. Luckily for me, there were a few huge trees there and I liked one particular tamarind tree. I created my sets incorporating the tree and making it a significant one in the set.
We made one tree a small temple-like structure with a deity in the recess.
Image: The sketch of the tree
In many parks near a colony, you will see tree houses for the kids to play. There was a huge tamarind tree in the area and I erected a tree house on it.
Luckily for us, the tree had huge branches so we could make a nice tree house. After all, it has to be strong and safe as kids were going to really play in it.
Image: The sketch of the tree house
Other than the facades, I created a very interesting room for the guy called Abhi.He comes to stay with his uncle in the colony. He is a creative guy who loves to watch stars. That is why I have an opening for his telescope and kept a few boxes for him to climb up on and watch the stars.
Image: The sketch of Abhi's room
You must have noticed that in many Brahmin households, the kitchen will be away from the main house.
I created a passage from the main house to the kitchen. Outside that is the backyard with a well, pump set, a tulsi plant, etc.
This looked so real that some women who came to see the set wondered whether they were there earlier!
I had a similar experience when I created Shriya's room for Sivaji.
Image: The sketch of the backyard