Palatial sets, exquisite costumes - TV shows get opulent!

By Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) As much as Rs. 6 crores (Rs.60 million) was spent to create the sets for historical series "Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur" and a Porsche car worth Rs. 17.5 crores (Rs.175 million) was used to shoot a scene for another daily soap - television producers don't mind loosening their purse strings to create opulent sets and the right ambience.

For "Chittod Ki Rani Padmini...", National Award-winning art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai said he paid great attention to detail while producing the serial and didn't want money to be a constraint.

"The show is set in a certain era. And it often becomes expensive to get the right look when you are doing period dramas - whether for TV or for films. I went ahead because I like doing everything in an extravagant manner," said Desai, who has used parts of the sets he had designed for Ashutosh Gowariker's epic drama "Jodhaa Akbar" for the show.

Apart from splurging on sets, Desai also spent Rs.25 million on costumes and jewellery for "Chittod Ki Rani Padmini...".

Sagar Pictures, the producers of the latest historical epic "Meera", also admit that they have taken utmost care of the smallest details. "Meera" narrates the story of the legendary princess who renounced the luxuries of royal life and became the greatest devotee of Lord Krishna.

"A lot of research and effort has gone into the designing of the costumes in 'Meera'. We undertook months of research for the show - right from the colours to the fabric to the embroidery, care has been taken to keep the authenticity of that era alive," Meenakshi Sagar of Sagar Pictures told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

"The jewellery was difficult to design as we didn't want to repeat anything done before; nor did we want to go overboard with the look. So almost all the pieces are exclusive and handmade," she added.

But Meenakshi didn't reveal the budget set aside for the sets erected in Baroda and only said it was "a lot".

Historicals apart, other producers are also spending generously on their shows.

"For some big shows, which have lavish sets, producers and channels are ready to shell out minimum Rs.10 million just on sets," said Waseem Sabir, who has directed serials like "Saat Phere" and "India Calling".

"At times 40 percent of the total budget is kept aside for sets, costumes and jewellery," he added.

Rajan Shahi, the man behind shows like STAR Plus' "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai" and "Sapna Baabul Ka...Bidaai" as well as Colors' "Mata Pita Ke Charno Mein Swarg", admits to spending "much beyond what the channel provides (in terms of budget)" to work on his characters' looks and the story's presentation.

"I spend anywhere between 15 to 20 percent of my total budget on the looks and costumes of my characters. And I spend a lot of money on my show's presentation. For example, if the channel gives me Rs.100 for a scene, I would easily shell out Rs.35 to 40 for my presentation," said Shahi, who recently used a Rs.175-million Porsche car to shoot a scene for "Mata Pita Ke..."

But he stressed that it's vital to maintain a balance between simplicity and opulence to be able to connect with audiences.

According to Purnendu Shekhar, the writer of "Balika Vadhu", shows are getting grander by the day because "every channel needs a good-looking show".

To meet the demand, the makers are either shooting in a palace or in a palace-like house or sets with characters dressed in fine jewellery and attires.

For instance shows like Colors' "Balika Vadhu" and "Jai Shri Krishna", NDTV Imagine's "Bandini" and "Rakhi Ka Swayamvar" and STAR Plus' "Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat" - are either shot in a palace or old havelis.

"Every show needs to have an edge over one another and every channel needs at least one such show. It's very important to have something larger than life to draw in the audience. And channels are ready to pay for that," said Shekhar.

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