Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What does a production designer do?

If he's Wasiq Khan, he pulls off the improbable, writes Sunaina Kumar in the latest Tehelka.

And how does he do that?

In Dabbang, it was Wasiq Khan who was responsible for "the sepia tints, the rustic colours and the stylised yet authentic sets of the film". In Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots, for which he had only two days to prepare, Khan set up "a cramped apartment with peeling walls, a crummy massage parlour, and a BEST bus".

He got his start in production design with Kashyap’s short film Last Train to Mahakali and though he has had some stupendous successes in commercial Hindi cinema, his speciality, he says, is in conjuring up the grime and sweat of reality.

“It is certainly the work I find most challenging and rewarding. It is also the toughest to shoot,” he says. He gives examples from Aamir and Black Friday. In Aamir "there was a scene where Rajeev Khandelwal had to enter a filthy slum toilet. He puked on the sets and I had to reassure him that this is only a set and nothing is real. In Black Friday, for the bomb blast sequence, instead of junior artists, I got disfigured beggars from Haji Ali, and got them fitted with artificial limbs for the before-and-after scenes.”

Curiously, Wasiq Khan says he never uses design software for his work, so he sketches every frame by hand. For Dabbang, he says, he created more than a hundred sketches.
  • Photo: Courtesy Tehelka

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