Baazaar production designer Shruti Gupte on recreating Bombay Stock Exchange, and Mumbai of the uber rich

Devansh Sharma

October 28, 2018 11:49:42 IST

In an industry obsessed with deifying the star, the spotlight often evades those who work tirelessly behind the scenes. The success of a film is often attributed to its face but seldom to those who constitute the spine. And so, in this column titled Beyond the Stars, Firstpost highlights the contributions of film technicians who bring their expertise to the table.

In Gauravv K Chawla's corporate drama Baazaar, the production design is integral to the film. Whether it is the backdrop of Mumbai or the plush corporate offices of the financial capital, the setting serves as a character. Firstpost caught up with the production designer, Shruti Gupte, for an exclusive interaction. Below are excerpts from the chat.

Baazaar is a corporate thriller that revolves around the Bombay Stock Exchange. Walk us through how you recreated the BSE.

You can't get any details of the BSE on the internet because of security reasons. So it wasn't possible to recreate the BSE, but only come as close to doing so. In fact, we didn't recreate the BSE but only a regular stock trading center. We visited a couple of places like Motilal, where we ended up shooting. We also went to Bloomberg and a couple of other stock trading centers. They didn't allow us to shoot near the sanctum but we were allowed to shoot on the trading floor. They at least allowed us to see everything so that we could be as true to our depiction. Obviously, we've taken some creative liberties to create more layers and depth.

Rohan Mehra and Radhika Apte in a still from Baazaar

Rohan Mehra and Radhika Apte in a still from Baazaar

Is there a particular aesthetic that you stick to in a corporate drama?

I don't stick to any language except for the language of that particular film. You're calling it a corporate drama now but while conceptualising, I saw it as the story of a small town boy coming to Mumbai and getting embroiled in whatever the film is about. Gauravv wanted the film to be very real but also a bit edgy.

Baazaar is also an ode to Mumbai. How did you ensure that your depiction does justice to both the city and the narrative?

You have Mumbai in Salaam Bombay, you have Mumbai in Slumdog Millionaire. We wanted to show the Mumbai that we know. Gauravv is from Mumbai; I'm from Mumbai so we know the city well. We wanted to show the Mumbai between Bandra and South Bombay because that is what a person working in the stock market would relate to. He was very particular about shooting Mumbai in the monsoon. Most people don't do it because it's difficult to shoot. But he insisted on it, even though it was a hassle for us. It has turned out beautifully because the Mumbai sky in the monsoon is something that defines this city. And in most places, Mumbai has not been romanticised. We've also kept into consideration the perspective through which the city is being shown. You can see the rainy sky through the balcony of a posh flat, the window of a chawl or that of a corporate building, depending on what the background and psychological state of that character is. We've managed to bring in the city where we needed it, and not oversell it or abuse its skyline.

Saif Ali Khan in a still from Baazaar

Saif Ali Khan in a still from Baazaar

Saif Ali Khan and Rohan Mehra's characters are from different cultures and classes. Saif is a rich Gujarati businessman and Rohan a budding one from Uttar Pradesh. How did you reflect their personalities and backgrounds through their respective homes in the film?

We wrote thorough back stories for both of them. You see Rohan's story evolve in the film and explore Saif's only through flashbacks. It was easy to understand how someone from Surat or Ahmedabad would be since I've studied in Gujarat (CEPT University, Ahmedabad). Saif's wife (Chitrangda Singh) is a housewife who is also an entrepreneur and runs an NGO. We did resort to cliches but only because in a film, one needs to establish the setting in a split second. Either your register it or it's gone. So we used a lot of jhoolas (swings), thalis (metal plates), khichdi and ghee. We've focused a lot on the food because Gujaratis are fond of it. You can just smell the food from its sight. We also tried to shoot at as many real locations as we could. We went to explore the flats available in South Bombay for the uber rich. We checked out the kind of options that up and coming young, rich crowd of investment bankers and stock traders go for. In the flashes from the trailer, Saif is seen going to a 'Michhami Dukkadam' ceremony (a Jainism ritual). We needed to shoot at a place where the uber rich Gujarati Jains would go to for such an occasion. We shot at the Royal Opera House, but it wasn't for effect. It just seemed like the thing which say, an Ambani would be able to afford.

Saif Ali Khan in a still from Baazaar

Saif Ali Khan in a still from Baazaar

All images from YouTube.

Updated Date: Oct 28, 2018 11:49 AM