Tale of weaving magic on sets

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  • Published 5.01.12
Art director Budha Maharana

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 4: Almost four decades of struggle and success in the Odisha film industry have taught art director Budha Maharana never to give up.

Turning a blind eye to every obstacle and hardship that came his way – be it financial losses or death of his four children, 59-year-old Maharana has travelled a long way. The eternal optimist continues to weave dreams that he plans to execute in near future.

Maneka Gandhi might have stopped Maharana from making his first ambitious directorial venture that dealt with the sensitive issue of human-animal relationship, but the art director plans to direct a film on similar lines of Jurassic Park and Dracula very soon.

Maharana, who recently won his sixth state award for the film Swayamsiddha, is not happy with the present generation directors.

“I prefer the work culture that was there during the 70’s and 80’s. Today, directors hardly want to use their imagination. All they want is an exact copy of Telegu films, and that goes for film sets as well. There is no fun working with today’s directors. I would rather make my own films,” says Maharana.

Starting his career at the tender age of 14, Maharana reminisces learning his job by working with stalwarts such as Basant Nayak, Prashanta Nanda, Ghanasham Mohapatra and taking advice from Satyajit Ray.

“All these directors understood the importance of film sets, which unfortunately the younger generation fails to understand. Film makers today prefer shooting in plush bungalows rather than creating a realistic set,” adds the art director.

Maharana considers himself lucky to be hailing from the lineage of carpenters involved in the making and restoration of the Puri temple. After receiving his basic education in pattachitra from his father, he started taking interest in designing stages in Cuttack. It was Ghanasham Mohapatra, who introduced Maharana to the world of cinema and Maharana designed his first film set in 1973 for the film Kanaklata.

From Kanaklata to Swayamsiddha, Maharana has designed as many as 120 film sets.

“Designing sets has never been an easy task. On most occasions it was the financial crunch and weather obstacles that hindered us from designing a good set. There have been several projects for which I am yet to receive my dues. There were no proper film studios during the 70’s and I had made sets inside godowns. There are directors, who have stolen story ideas from me and have never given me the due credit,” he says.

Maharana has been appreciated for his impressive replicas of Jagannath temple for the film Jayadeva. Another noteworthy design was the snake den he created for Jaga Balia. But, the film set that still remains closer to Maharana’s heart is that of Prashanta Nanda’s Kalishankar, where he had the challenge of designing a hall that was electronically operated.

“Designing sets during 70’s were 10 times difficult than today. With more technological development, I wish today’s generation comes up with innovative set designs,” says Maharana.

The ace set-designer aspires to build an art village in near future where different art forms will be taught to residential students.