Aparna Sud

I FELT ECSTATIC AFTER WINNING THE FILMFARE AWARD

She did her schooling in Shimla, her hometown, and her graduation in Chandigarh. Aparna Sud, our guest columnist this month, later did a diploma in interior designing, hoping to build her career in the profession.

In 2002, she landed in Mumbai, hoping to pursue her interior designing career, but as luck would have it, she got a job as an assistant to a production designer.

The past 15 years have seen a remarkable transformation for this creative woman. She recently won the Filmfare award 2016 for ‘Best production design’ for her role in designing the replica of the PanAm jet, which featured in Ram Madhavani’s Neerja. The film is about the hijacking of the airline’s aircraft in Karachi in 1986. The production designer writes about her fascinating career:

I felt ecstatic after winning the Filmfare award for ‘Best production design for my work in Neerja. I was numb. It’s a great feeling when your work is recognised at this level. It’s a return you get for all the hard work you’ve done over the past few years.

The plane that featured in the film was a functional one, but it did not fly. The overhead cabinets opened, the toilet was functional, the galley buffet had hot and cold water for coffee.

A lot of research went into the making of the film. It was almost like going back to school. So many references had to be taken into consideration, from layouts and drawings to 3D models. I started working on the layout and later moved on to scale drawings.

I went through detailed technical manuals of Boeing 747s, consulted pilots who had flown the aircraft and met aeronautical engineers and flight attendants.

I had to take into consideration a lot of references. I referred to every resource available online, including a website that was set up by ex-employees of the airline. I was able to construct a replica of the plane in 48 days. And it is an achievement worth rejoicing.

I will love to take up more challenging jobs. I already have some prestigious national and international projects.

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I had to take into consideration a lot of references. I referred to every resource available online, including a website that was set up by exemployees of the airline. I was able to construct a replica of the plane in 48 days. And it is an achievement worth rejoicing.

When I came to Mumbai in 2002, my sister asked me if I would like to assist a production designer. I jumped at the offer. Since then, there has been no looking back. That is how my journey in Bollywood began.

Designing and creating is always subjective – there needs to be a balance between technique and art.

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Creativity needs to merge with form. Sometimes you even need to have sound construction skills on the job. I love what I do. And with a job like this, there is always something new to explore and create.

I recently completed work for an international project. I just finished working on a Hollywood film, Heartbeats, which is directed by Duane Adler.

Heartbeats is one of my best experiences. Generally when a film crew travels from abroad they have their own production designer with them, but because of the budget constraints they wanted to hire someone from India. I guess I was lucky.

This is my first international film as a production designer. My producers, the director and the executive producers were all from Los Angeles. There was very close interaction with all of them through the pre-production and obviously shooting of my film.

Is film-making in Hollywood different from that in Bollywood? I would say, the process is the same. In the end we all are making a film. The striking difference being the prep time a Hollywood film takes is much more and proportional to that, their prep is also outstanding which completes everything on time.

I just finished Reload with Fox Star Studios. Advertising is always an ongoing thing for me, but they are not very heavy on time or scale.

If I were to compare life in Mumbai, India’s bustling and over-crowded city, with the relatively calm life in Shimla, I would say Mumbai has given me a lot; so with all the traffic and the madness, I wouldn’t go back and settle anywhere as of now.

Shimla and its serenity – I miss them, but after 7 pm I have nothing to do there.

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