Interviewer : Venkatesh | Camera : Balaji | Text : Divya Murali | Coordination : Venkatesh
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Art director Videsh is currently in news for working with Venkat Prabhu in the biggie Mankatha. Behindwoods decided to catch up with him and quiz about his works and Mankatha in particular.

About you

I am born and brought up in Chennai. From a very young age I had interest in drawing and my friends also encouraged and praised me for drawing well. So I decided to go in that line. I worked under art director Sabu Cyril for four to five years as his assistant. After that I worked for serials. It is not possible to reach the top at the very beginning. So I went step by step and worked hard. After gaining experience by working for the small screen, I started to work in movies.

Which was your first film?

My first film was Unnai Saranadainthen directed by Samuthirakanni. I got the opportunity through friends and contacts when I was working as an assistant. The movie did not require a big art director, so they were willing to let me work on it even though I was just an assistant. The movie proved as a break for me and I got many offers later.

Be it a police station setting or a

court room setting we work on it

from scratch

What according to you is the role of the art director in a movie?

In a movie you see the artists but all that is surrounding them is created by an art director. The sets, props and every article on screen is designed and set by the art director. Be it a police station setting or a court room setting we work on it from scratch. Art direction is therefore a very important part in the film making process as it creates the environment and the appearance on screen.

About Mankatha- your latest project

Mankatha is a big film with big star cast. It is bigger than I imagined. We have created sets for most of the things which cannot be shot in the actual location. It is hard to shoot on the roads and public places with Ajith sir. Even if it is just a small hotel, when we try to shoot with Ajith sir there a big crowd which makes it hard for us. So we have been creating huge sets for almost every scene. We have to keep changing the sets and making new ones and that is why the movie is getting delayed.

Working with Venkat Prabhu

Venkat Prabhu is sure about what kind of sets he wants. He will just tell me his ideas and give me a go ahead and never interferes otherwise. He gives me creative freedom and trusts me to give him my best. From our very first film to Mankatha now, I used to ask him to see the sets and ask him to say if there are any changes to be made. But he will say, “You would have done it right”. In the end I myself will check if the sets are perfect and give it finishing touches. That much is his confidence on me.

Venkat Prabhu gives me

creative freedom and trusts me

About Venkat Prabhu

Venkat Prabhu is a very good friend of mine. I doubt if anyone can be as friendly and easy going with everyone like Venkat sir is. He is very cool and never gets angry or tensed. Whatever it is he will explain things calmly and is always jovial. As a director he is a very good one. He is clear about what he wants and he shoots just that. Even while editing, he will clearly tell what is needed, what has to be removed. He takes his movies to the point and makes sure it is not dragging. He is one of the best directors today.

During the pre production time itself, we will sit together and he will tell the story in an interesting and jovial manner. As far as art direction is concerned, he will imagine then and there how things should look on screen and tell me about it. He is clear and creative about what he needs.

Ajith sir has great team spirit and

makes sure he works in unison

with everyone

About Ajith

Ajith sir is very co-operative and has no starry airs. He will never command and ask us to change things. He is very friendly and open. He has great team spirit and makes sure he works in unison with everyone. He will keep cooking during his free time and offer to everyone there. He will make chicken soup and much more and invite everyone to eat. He doesn’t take no for an answer when invited. He literally drags us into his caravan and makes us eat his delicious cooking. He is very simple and down to earth.

Who is your favorite director?

My favorite director is Venkat Prabhu sir for he never gets angry and never screams. He respects everyone and is calm and composed always.

My favorite director is Venkat


I learnt

every aspect of art direction from

Sabu sir

About Sabu Cyril

I learnt a lot under Sabu Cyril sir. I have made plenty of miniatures when I worked under him. He uses the required colors that give a rich look and is very specific about things like that. Personally I like Thotta Dharini’s sets better because he uses a nice mix of colors and experiments a lot and makes sure that the sets look beautiful and perfect. Both of them are great and I have learnt maximum from Sabu sir. I learnt how exactly to go about making sets and placing it and every aspect of art direction from Sabu sir.

Tell about the materials used for making sets

We used materials like plywood and others. Actually we use every material available to make sets. We can even transform sponge into a nice, good looking object for a set. If the director asks for a particular set we use any material to make it look perfect. We use glass, acrylic, and wood and even card boards. For a set to look like however it is demanded for, we use any kind of material. The list is very vast.

We can even transform

sponge into a nice, good looking

object for a set

The most challenging film for me

was Naanayam

Most challenging film you worked in

The most challenging one was Naanayam. Mainly because almost everything in the movie were sets including the banks and houses. People who saw it will never believe that they are sets. I had to do it that perfectly. The movie was also a good one and I worked very hard on it. So that would be the most challenging set I worked on till now.

What kind of films you want to work?

It has been my long time desire to work for a period film as it offers a lot of scope. I have never worked in any period film before and it would be great if an offer for such a film comes up. If I get a chance to do it I will do it in a big level and give my best.

It has been my desire

to work for a period film as it

offers a lot of scope

What sort of colors you use for your sets?

I always use realistic colors. I don’t do much mixing and make things look artistic because I like to keep it real. If I use extravagant colors I myself feel it is a bit too much than what is required. I like off-white and use that color in a lot of places.

Are there any courses for art direction?

There is no particular course for art direction. What matters is experience and interest. If a person is really interested in doing it and has passion for it he can work as an assistant to big art directors and learn the tricks of the trade. The learning process of art direction starts from there. It totally depends on experience. It is not easy being an art director. To be creative and successful one would need at least 5 years of experience under someone else.
Tags : Videsh, Mankatha, Venkat Prabu , Ajith
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