Rajeev ChudasamaWhat usually takes Rajeev Chudasama a days work, cost him a week for a film that Ram Gopal Varma was revisiting nearly 16 years after he first made it. Rajeevs company Marching Ants is in the business of creating posters to draw audiences in.
With RGVs Shiva, I knew that I needed to get the flavour of his old film and that there were no big stars, he explains. Ramu, who works often with Rajeev, laid no specific brief, but was keen on some recall value to his Telugu hit.
Some brainstorming later, Rajeev landed it. A hand symbolically holding a police belt, with the title in an officers nametag just as Shivas old poster had one holding onto a bicycle chain.
With three films releasing every week, the selling point just cant be the stars anymore, but the film, says this creative head, Film publicity is a science. Even though I would just love to eliminate the brief, I know that you have to look into what the distributor is saying. But gone are the days when you have to make a poster for the interiors with the big four gun, khoon, thigh and cleavage. People have become so much smarter that I think that I can make at least one thematic poster per film for metros.
So the publicity designer mixes it in. Sometimes its straight (a black and white 36 China Town with a pink teddy bear or characters leaning against the door in Darwaza Bandh Rakho), sometimes thoughtful (Lakshya, with Hrithik Roshans shadow of a soldier), arty (Urmila Matondkar with smudged lipstick in Ek Hasina Thi) or symbolic (the glint of a sword in Kisna or John Abraham and Udita Goswami entwined with rudraksh beads in Paap). His logos, be it My Brother Nikhil, Karam or Koffee with Karan, also speaks louder than just words.
Its always fun, insists Rajeev. His company dips into comedy, drama, thrillers, feel-good, futuristic every second day. Rajeevs designs are just poster material. Mushtaq Shiekhs biography of Shah Rukh Khan, Still Reading Khan that hits stores soon, has been laid out by Rajeev in candy, stylish designs that complement its subject.
Rajeev Chudasamas poster of the Ram Gopal Varma film Shabari starring Isha Koppikar
The poster of Varmas new Shiva
Riteish is bound by fashion in Apna Sapna Money Money
The embossed cover of Shah Rukh Khans biography written by Mushtaq Shiekh and designed by Chudasama
After doing styling for photographer Dabboo Ratnanis filmi calendar for three years in a row and dreaming up scenarios for posters, Rajeev started taking baby steps into styling for actors. It kicked off with Anil Kapoors new hard-edged look for Musafir and then Mallikas fringed bob and steely make-up in her Shaadi Se Pehle song.
Now hes also given innocents Riteish and Shreyas Talpade rakish looks for Apna Sapna Money Money and Celina Jaitely, Koena Mitra and Riya Sen middle-class wannabe styles.
I refuse to believe that at 32, I know it all. I dont want to sit back so after doing some homework, I decided to get into the styling, hair, look of characters. It was all part of getting myself motivated and excited again. Sure its more chaotic than making posters because youre not sitting in an office, but I do have in mind what the character is about before shooting starts, he says.
Dabboos calendar assignment was his chance of getting experimental with stars.
You can make anything believable with models, but what attracted me to work with Dabboo on visualizing the calendar was working with big stars, he says. Like Abhishek Bachchan playing around with cards in a pinstriped suit in 2005. Dabboo just told me, Im blindly trusting you with this. We used him holding just one card and fixed it in post-production.
A film even used the same idea for its poster! This year, Abhisheks confidence has grown so much that it shows, through just his eyes that are visible. Who at his level would not want to show his whole face? Its so encouraging. Now Rajeevs inspired to kick off his own calendar with lensmen like Dabboo, Jatin Kampani and Subi Samuel that he often works with. But mine wont have film stars the focus will be art!
Even though a poster creative can always grab him, theres always the lure of motion. Rajeev is now creatively involved with their new company Green Thumb doing opening sequences, trailors and packages of films.
Theres also two scripts on the block that Rajeev will dapple in. Theyre still to be thrashed out, but when I bounced one idea off RGV, he was quite excited. I have an eclectic collection of work now. While audiences are still to accept really radical stuff like Hollywood, I work for personal, not commercial reasons even though my partners going to kill me for saying this!
Rajeev Chudasamas new list of posters
Shiva/Ram Gopal Varma
Darling/Ram Gopal Varma
Hat Trick/Milan Luthria
Apna Sapna Money Money/Sangeeth Sivan
Good Boy Bad Boy/Ashwini Chaudhary
2020: A Love Story/Harry Baweja