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'I achieved what every young man fantasises about'

By Indrani Roy Mitra
Last updated on: February 11, 2005 15:47 IST
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Sabyasachi MukherjeeIf the Big B were to believe Black by Sanjay Leela Bhansali will take Bollywood films several notches higher, one certainly gets curious about the film's making.

Since the film has a period feel to it, costumes play an important part. Besides, the colour black seems to be dominant throughout the movie.

Fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee was entrusted with the task of adorning Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji, the two main characters of the film, as well as Nandana Sen (daughter of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and writer Nabaneeta Dev Sen) and Ayesha Kapur (the formidable child artist).

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"Black is a period film set in the 1960s," explains Sabyasachi. "The plot necessitated my using a lot of monochromatic colours like grays, blacks, beige, browns, khakis and indigo. I deliberately worked towards lending a definite colourlessness to the film."

"The film is about you and me and, therefore, it called for serious clothes. It took me eight months of preparation, during which I did a lot of research and shaped my sensitivity after French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. In fact, I went through a whole lot of black and white photographs of his before venturing into Black," he adds.

The young designer is yet to get over the thrill of working with Amitabh Bachchan, his childhood idol, and the excitement is palpable in his voice. "It was amazing to work in tandem with one of the greatest stars Indian cinema has ever produced!" he exclaims.

"I don't know how to express myself. I achieved what every young man fantasises about -- working with the Big B. You know, why he is larger than life -- because he is so down-to-earth. I am yet to see someone more professional, more non-interfering or more committed. He has tremendous respect for every member of the unit and was always very accommodating and polite to me. Perhaps, being a thorough professional, he knows how to be respectful of another."

If Sabyasachi was awed by Big B, Rani was the girl-next-door, his unit pal. "During our long meetings on costumes, Rani and I would manage to squeeze out some time and start cracking jokes in Bengali while Rani's mother would treat me to some mouth-watering fish," he says. "As far as her work is concerned, Rani is effortlessly brilliant."

The designer says he had a very good rapport with Nandana too. "She is a very charming girl, always bubbling with energy."

Rani Mukerji in Black"Black," continues the designer, "is an enormous project effectively carried out by an extremely well-knit team. The credit goes to Sanjay Leela Bhansali for getting the best out of everybody. Here is a director who believes in analysing every hair-splitting detail to the extent of what should be the colour of the buttons. It is always a rewarding task to work with such a thorough director. Apart from satiating your creative spirit, you feel enriched by the experience."

"Take Ayesha, for instance," adds Sabyasachi. "I had never imagined there would be so much to learn from that child. With her vigour and sensitivity, commitment and talent, she emerged an undisputed winner. If I be the judge, only the Miss Universe crown will fit her the best."

Asked what made him take up the Bhansali project this time (Sabyasachi had refused Bhansali's next, Bajirao Mastani), the designer says, "It's the sheer uniqueness of the project which seemed challenging to me. If you watch the promos, you will understand Black is stylistically made. I wanted to be a part of that style statement."

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Indrani Roy Mitra