Amit Ray, incidentally the art director of both Nikhil Advani’s Lucknow Central and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's costume drama Padmavati, says his two Goregaon structures are poles apart
The set of Lucknow Central, which revolves around four jail inmates, who rekindle their love for music and form a band. Inset: Farhan Akhtar
The vast Film City studio in Goregaon is known to allow filmmakers to mount their films on a huge scale. Currently, it houses two massive sets — one for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmavati' and the other, for Farhan Akhtar-starrer 'Lucknow Central' — starkly different in appearance, but matching in terms of size. The common factor between the structures is one man, art director Amit Ray, who has erected the larger-than-life sets with able support from design partner, Subrata Chakraborty.
When Ray was signed up for 'Lucknow Central', little did he know that he had to recreate the Lucknow jail on such a huge landscape. But, he took it up as a challenge. 'This is going to be interesting', he told himself before taking to the drawing board. A great amount of research went into recreating a jail.
Says Ray, "Nikhil Advani (producer) said he wants to make the jail look huge and scary. We have recreated the jail on about two acres. I used a lot of references. So much so that it felt like going back to school. Along with Subrata, we visited a lot of jails in India as well as abroad as part of research. Then we started with the layout, drawings and fashioned a few 3D models."
It took around three months to build the set from scratch. "A lot of technicians doubted us. The biggest challenge was to make the jail look completely different from what one has seen in earlier Bollywood films. But, I was convinced that nothing is impossible to achieve. Today, when I look back, I feel really happy that our efforts have paid off. Whoever has seen the set has been complimenting us for the precision and detailing," Ray proudly says.
Work at 'Padmavati' sets at Film City in Mumbai; (inset) Sanjay Leela Bhansali
The production designer, who along with Subrata has also worked on films like 'Udta Punjab' (2016), 'Haider' (2014), 'Talvar '(2015) and 'Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola' (2013), explains his aim is always on lending an authentic tone to a film. "We always try to serve a different dish. Now, I am juggling 'Padmavati' and 'Lucknow Central', which are poles apart, but we don't get confused. It is our 15-year experience in this industry that helps us breathe life into art," he adds.