Rangasthalam fame art directors Ramakrishna and Monika have lent their expertise to this week’s big Telugu release, Antariksham 9000KMPH. The film, starring Varun Tej and Aditi Rao Hydari, will hit the screens on December 14. Before the release, the duo sat down for a conversation about the making of Antariksham 9000KMPH.
Q. Antariksham 9000KMPH is different from the regular commercial movies. How was your experience of working on the film?
Ramakrishna: Films like Antariksham 9000KMPH are more challenging and enjoyable at the same time. The director Sankalp approached me with the storyboard. He also shared his research about spaceships and Indian satellites. After going through the storyboard and his story narration, we started our work. We could not have started this film like a regular film. To create a set of a place or anything on this earth is easy, but in this film, we were dealing with a story in space, a place we have not seen, explored and had no resources to do so. It was quite difficult to do research. It is not a fantasy or fiction film that could have let us experiment. We had to show how it is.
The challenge was to make it practically happen. We couldn’t build the sets on a large scale. At a time, the camera should be able to capture the compactness. We had to take care of every minute detail from the functional units, costumes, spaceships’ different areas etc. So, in the process of the film, we also got educated about space and spaceships.
When it comes to set designing, we made technical and mechanical sets. We broke down the spaceship set into nine parts which were movable to make the shooting process convenient within the limited space. It took us 45 days to build them.
Q. Did you take any Hollywood movie as a reference to create the spaceships?
Ramakrishna: Every film is made as per their requirement. So, we did not take any references. For us, the research is important.
Monika: The space industry in India is very different from the other space industries in the world. We are not up to their level. So, if we copy any space centres like NASA, it looks very different from ours.
Q. You worked on NTR biopic for some time. But later you exited the project.
Ramakrishna: We worked on the first schedule of NTR biopic. However, the film did not happen as per the plan. There were certain breaks in the schedule due to change in the director. So, because of lack of clarity and our own commitments, we had to withdraw from the project.
Q. What was the point that you were satisfied with sets of Antariksham?
Monika: Being an art director, till the last moment, you are never satisfied. You keep checking the details. On the shoot too, we would sit on the monitor and keep checking if something else is required.
Ramakrishna: There is no end to satisfaction but yes, one thing that is quite satisfactory is the fact that we completed our work in the planned budget.
Also, it is the fastest film of my career. We shot it in just 70 days. Generally, Antariksham would have taken a year because of the technicality involved in it but I think the clear direction from the filmmakers about the requirements, the budget planning for CG and other elements helped to achieve this. The producers were a great support.
Q. How has Rangasthalam helped your career?
Monika: Rangasthalam was our 17th movie. We have put the same hard work in our previous films as well but it is Rangasthalam that got us the recognition among people.
Q. What are your upcoming projects?
Ramakrishna: At present, we are working on R Madhavan’s film Rocketry. The set work for our other project Hiranya will start from January. The entire film will be shot in Hyderabad. We are also working on Sukumar’s next and Vijay Devarakonda’s upcoming film.