The recently released teaser of the Adivi Sesh-starrer Major has ticked all the boxes. Based on the life of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was martyred during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Sashi Kiran Tikka directorial has been in the news for its plotline and making.
The film’s production designer Avinash Kolla, who has worked for films like the award-winning Mahanati, had built six sets for the film, including one of The Gateway of India, and another of the NSG Commandos set-up, at a private studio in Hyderabad. But what stands out is the set of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which the terrorists attacked on 26 November 2008.
The set became necessary because permission was not granted to shoot at the hotel. As many as 500 people worked for over 10 days to build the set.
“Although a few filmmakers in Bollywood have built the Taj Hotel set, this is the first time that such a comprehensive one has been built,” shares Avinash, adding that the team spent four days in the hotel to observe the dimensions and architecture.
“The team had to take note of every minute aspect during our stay in the hotel to stay close to reality. We put tons of research into it,” he says.
“Sesh gave me a brief about the film, and how the sets should capture the emotions in the film. So I realised the level of detailing that would be required,” Avinash explains. “We have replicated the artifacts, paintings, fixtures and furniture. We wanted to make the set look authentic,” he says, adding that even the grand staircase, statue of Tata and some iconic paintings by M.F. Hussain were recreated.
According to him, the set is itself a character in the film. The great level of detailing has brought to life the ambience of the hotel. The makers have used wood, fibre and iron to construct a 120 ft-tall edifice representing five floors of the hotel.
Bengali workers add a touch of authenticity. Avinash is also simultaneously working on another film - the Nani-starrer Shyam Singha Roy. The period drama is set in Kolkata, and he had to recreate the landscape of the city on a 10-acre piece of land on the city’s outskirts.
“The first thing that comes to mind when talking about Kolkata is art. So we spent around four months in and around Kolkata to understand the architectural style of the houses, office spaces, streets, etc., to reflect the era of the 1960s. A 100-year-old Kali Temple set was also constructed for the film,” shares the production designer.
He used brick and clay, and red colour to build the temple set. It was constructed in two months by 1200 workers.
Revealing that half the workers were from Kolkata, Avinash said, “That’s because they do clay work very well, and can bring in their own style. Kolkata has an interesting and unique temple architectural style; the embossing we have used is unique. Generally, temples in the south are built with stone while temples in Bengal have a different architecture style and are built with clay,” he adds....