Omung Kumar, known for creating lavish sets, confesses that he was quite nervous when he held the baton for his debut directorial project, Mary Kom. The project took off with major portions of the fighting sequences being shot at Mumbai’s Filmistaan studios, where a huge set depicting the boxing ring measuring 180 by 80 feet was constructed. Vanita Kumar, Omung’s wife, art director and production designer of the film, had created the sets in a way that the unit did not waste time in recreating different backdrops as the championships had taken place in different countries like the US, China, Turkey and India. The art director had placed different sets depicting different countries one behind the other, so that they could be changed quicly keeping in mind the people and the backdrop. The scenario changed after every two days.
“We shot continously for 20 days to show the competitions that Mary Kom had participated in and won. My first scene was directing Priyanka Chopra in a boxing match. Since it was the first time for both of us, we were trying to figure out how to shoot the boxing scenes, as it was not a normal shot at all,” says Kumar.
While choreographing boxing scenes, several factors had to be taken into account. “For instance, we had to keep in mind how Priyanka would fall, the manner in which she would jump back on her feet. We were shooting the scenes for almost 15 hours a day and started off by showing small matches, going on to shoot the world championships that Mary Kom won,” explains Omung.
Chopra, who had undergone rigorous training, had to face professional boxers in the ring as the director wanted the fights to look real. “Priyanka had to take real punches on the head and stomach several times. Since there were numerous retakes throughout the day, it was quite taxing for her. And equally so for the boxers as well as they were not used to acting. In reality, each round in a match is over in a few minutes, and the boxers who practise for two to three hours a day, were not used to working for 15 hours,” says Omung.
Mary Kom, produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Viacom18 Motion Pictures releases on September 5.