EP 262 . 18 Jan 23

Production design

With Meenal Agarwal

In the episode

  1. What does a film mean to you? What are the other 2 things that matter the most to you in a film apart from the story?
  2. I guess, in the early days of cinema, there was not really an explicit role of a production designer (at least in India). Most of the stuff was done by the director and the cameraman. How did it come to be? Why did we feel the need for production designers? Scale? More attention to detail? Quality of the narrative?
  3. What is production design in the context of a film? How are they different from Art directors or set designers?
  4. Who are the key stakeholders of a production designer? How much of a role do they have in refining / changing the narrative? Any example from Aakhon Dekhi or rk-rkay or Dum Laga ke haisha?
  5. How much space is important in your work? When do you decide to make a replica or use the original? Can you briefly explain what are the steps to arrive at the final output? What’s kind of a process? Maybe take a recent example of Qala which is set in the 1940s in Calcutta.
  6. How do you decide what stays and what’s not required in the frame keeping the larger story in context? Since you are creating a whole world out there – How big is the team generally for small-scale production and large-scale production?
  7. All might seem possible in the pre-production stage but during the shoot, budgets might just shoot up. What compromises does a production designer do? Again with any example?
  8. What is more satisfying as a creative designer – working on relatively large budget films like Hitchki and Shakuntala Devi or bootstrap films like rk/rkay?
  9. What is the future of Production Design when everything is going digital? First, it was actors on green screen and now humans are replacing AI-driven characters.
    1. If you have the conclusion by giving some tips for those who wish to get into this space, what would be those?

About Meenal Agarwal

Anton Chekov’s famous lines in his book are… “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” Well, I guess our today’s guest has an innate and instinctive quality to decide what’s in the frame and whats not. Be her in earlier stint as a photo journalist or her avatar as a production designer for numerous film since 2006. I am pleased to have Meenal Agarwal with us on Audiogyan. She has been production designer for many films like, Ankhon Dekhi, Hitchki, Pari, Bulbul, Dum Laga ke Haisha and most recently the Netflix film Qala.