Apart from the dance and drama of Bollywood, Jess Gonchor is captivated by how the Indian film industry puts pieces of Indian culture into its storylines. The American production designer (“The Devil Wears Prada”, et al) feels Hollywood can learn from the glitzy Hindi filmdom how to embrace its culture “naturally”.
It is the larger-than-life canvas, splashed with music and dance sequences, that defines Bollywood for many. But for Gonchor, Indian cinema is a reflection of its diverse culture.
“The movies have bold moves… They embrace what is out there and is inevitable… And also about embracing the culture and representing India as it is. We can do something on the same lines… Maybe we can get the US to learn to take what is out there, what is naturally beautiful in itself, without changing anything,” Gonchor told IANS over the phone from Los Angeles.
Since he speaks so fondly of the industry, how much does he really know of Bollywood?
Gonchor said he finds it very colourful. And even though he admits he’s no expert on it, he feels it is “very saturated and bold”.
Gonchor infuses life into different stories with his production designs. He entered the industry with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” in 1993. But he came into the limelight with his work on Bennett Miller’s “Capote”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, “No Country for Old Men”, “Burn After Reading”, “Foxcatcher” and “Hail, Caesar!”.
He also went back in time to recreate the 1920 era for Ben Affleck’s “Live By Night”. The gangster drama, backed by Warner Bros, is slated to release in India on Friday.
“Live by Night”, based on the award-winning best-seller by Dennis Lehane, narrates the story of a son of an honest Boston-Irish policeman who works his way up in the world of organised crime. It is a tale about family, friendship, fate, luck and loyalty.
Along with starring in “Live By Night”, Affleck has written, directed and produced the gangster film. It also stars Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper. Gonchor says creating a contrasting world of Boston and Florida in 1920 was fun, but challenging too.
“It was a wonderful experience to get to recreate the contrasting world that they are… It was challenging too. Most of the film is creating Florida and Boston in Los Angeles, and LA has changed. It is all modern and it is not even like what it was 10 years ago,” said the Academy Award-nominated production designer. Gonchor had one point clear when he picked the clean slate to draw upon — and that was his desire to highlight harsh times as well as the goodness among people.
“We tried to create a sort of colder monochromatic vibe of what that time was,” said Gonchor, who was born in New York in 1962. Affleck has time and again emphasised that “Live By Night” is his homage to classics. Gonchor said he worked on Affleck’s vision of the history, but with some customisation.
The film is creating a lot of Oscar buzz. What are his hopes?
“You certainly don’t work for all these things, but you hope for some recognition in some way because you worked really hard on these things. But I try not to get caught up in all these things. It is nice if it happens… It is true that it is the journey not the destination that matters.”