She’s on cloud nine. Preening and pirouetting. “I am simply over the moon, and loving every moment of it,” she gushes, as we catch up in the aftermath of her netting the coveted Filmfare trophy for her work in the critically acclaimed movie, Neerja. Inundated with calls and congratulatory messages, art director Aparna Sud is busy celebrating her much-deserved win. Her first award. The young creative woman has a repertoire that includes Shiva, Tevar, ABCD: Anybody Can Dance, Dus Kahaniyaan and Bbudhha Hoga Terra Baap.
But clearly, Neerja has proved to be the turning point in her career. “We shot the film in 48 days straight and the entire aeroplane had to be made from scratch in record time. So many people told me that I was attempting the impossible. I had a budget to adhere to and 200 labourers on the sets to deal with everyday. That was a huge challenge. I was simply breathing and living the movie during that time,” she shares. Locating a rambling expanse to set up the aircraft must have been quite a challenge in itself. “We built the aircraft on an open ground in Borivli in suburban Mumbai. Getting it ready was quite a coup though. My director wanted everything functional, from the taps in the washrooms to the geysers to the reclining aspect of the seats. The plane was 220 feet long and walking halfway to check on every tiny detail made me feel tired often. But everything has truly been worth it,” says the art director with a satisfied look on her face.
She is the youngest of three siblings and as an interior designer, trained for three years with an architect in Shimla (her hometown) and then in Chandigarh. That lent Aparna a winning edge in terms of the technical understanding of her art. It holds her in better stead today
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald