Sky the limit for Aska boy

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  • Published 3.06.11
A still from Chak De India for which Sukant Panigrahy (above) was the art director. Telegraph pictures

Bhubaneswar, June 2: Once a naïve village boy from Aska, Ganjam, art director Sukant Panigrahy is today a name to reckon with in the field of art-direction in Bollywood.

Credited with the brilliant set designing for Chak De India, Aja Nachle and many other films, Panigrahy, who received global appreciation for his creative work in Dev D, is ready with some much-awaited films.

Despite his success, the artist feels there are miles to go. Looking beyond films, Panigrahy feels it is important to promote artists of his state.

“When I dreamt of a career in art as a village boy, I had exposure only to my mother’s jhoti patterns that used to receive appreciation from the neighbourhood. Thankfully, I had a great art teacher at school and the guidance of Ajit Patnaik, who hailed from our region and had established himself in Mumbai as a top art director for tele-serials starting from Tipu Sultan to CID,” says Panigrahy.

“I dropped out of college when I was in Plus Two and accompanied Patnaik to Mumbai. That is where I realised that there are too many forums for artists to explore, which are hardly known to young art students back home. Of course things have changed a lot today,” he says.

Panigrahy, who assisted Sarmistha Roy for years until he got his break in 2003 film Gangajal, believes that artists in the state have a better idea of the various opportunities available in the field of art today. However, the state does not offer many prospects, he believes.

“Young artists from Orissa have the talent, but are shy. That is why my friends and I get together to organise festivals like the “Bring Your Own film Festival” in Puri and a number of folk art programmes in Mumbai to showcase the rich art and talent that Orissa offers,” says Panigrahy, who is one of the founders of MAFIA (Musicians Artists Film makers Interesting People Ajao), an institution which organises art-based events.

Currently Panigrahy is awaiting release of his upcoming films such as Bheja Fry2 and Chillar Party.

He is also working on projects such as Desi Boyzz and Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine. But Panigrahy still wishes to work on a local project.

“Our film makers have a wrong notion that with the budget being so low compared to Bollywood or South Indian films, it is impossible to churn out films that have impressive sets.

“But a film like Dev D had a very low budget and yet allowed the freedom to experiment with the art direction,” explains Panigrahy. “If I ever get a chance to create a set for an interesting project in Orissa, I would love to work here,” adds the artist visits the state at least five times a year.

“Though my projects keep me busy, I just love the food and lifestyle of my state, specially my village. I really wish to do something worthwhile for the situation of art in Orissa,” he says.