Nani’s upcoming Ante Sundaraniki, a romantic drama directed by Vivek Athreya, has special backdrops, particularly a 90-year-old house which has been given a makeover.
The film’s production designer Latha Naidu says Nani plays a Brahmin guy, and they wanted a house which looks authentic. They found the vintage house at West Marredpally in Hyderabad after a three-month search.
"The director, the cinematographer (Niketh Bommireddy) and I brainstormed to understand what a Brahmin house should look like. We were looking for a house with a big front yard, high ceilings, rooms set one behind another, and a distinctive style of windows and doors. We eventually found a suitable one, which we were told was built 90 years ago," says Latha.
One of the rooms of the house that has artefacts and photo frames reflecting the desired culture
She used her own childhood memories and inputs from the director to create the desired effect. (Latha said was raised in a Brahmin locality in Bengaluru, and studied in a Brahmin school, so she had a good idea of what was needed.)
"I had ideas about the colour palate, the artefacts, curtains and furniture, etc., even elements like ceramic pickle jars. I knew how the exteriors should look. We believed that the house could be modified for our needs," she adds. She saw the house as a blank canvas, and repainted it multiple times to suit the film’s aesthetics.
The living room of the transformed house with all the artefacts, articles and set properties
"Around 20 people worked for 15 days for the makeover. We built a well and planted several saplings including a Tulsi in the front yard to give the feel of a Brahmin house," Latha explains. Most of the artefacts for the house were purchased from old city (Charminar).
Around 40 per cent of the film was shot in that house. "We shot nearly 30 days in the house, so it is literally a character in the film," she adds.
The challenge was to get the sets ready for the continuity scenes, says Latha. "Because of Covid we could not shoot the film at one go; we had to do it in stages, and the shooting schedules were erratic. To get the art work, especially for continuity scenes, was difficult," she elaborates.
A water well that was built outside the house premises
The actors were very appreciative of the sets. "When Nani stepped into the set on the first day, he said, ‘I haven’t seen such an authentic set in recent times’. So that was a huge compliment," beams Latha, who was also the production designer for #Pelli Choopulu that won a National Award.
Latha was born and raised in Bengaluru, although her roots are in Rayalaseema. She holds bachelor's degrees in journalism and psychology, but, being the daughter of a Kannada film producer (Madhu Abbiaha Naidu), she was naturally drawn to cinema at an early stage.