Meet Chandrashekhar More, the man who helped Maharashtra State win back the 1st Prize for the Republic Day tableau after 20 years. The tableau which displayed the rich Maharashtrian Tradition “Wari” at the Rajpath. After receiving the award at National level, yesterday he got felicitated by the State for his contribution.
Though his national claim to fame is through this achievement, this man has achieved so much in such young age that many can only dream of achieving. He has done art direction for almost 2000 ad films (a great feat to achieve in itself), many block busters and even produced one himself. He is the art director who worked for the production houses of Farhan Akhtar, Amir Khan and Shahrukh Khan on Films like Rock On, Delhi Belly and Happy New Year, etc.
Nagpur Today spoke with him on his career, projects and of-course the Republic Day Tableu in an exclusive interview.
NT : So as you have said in other interviews, is this really your childhood dream?
Shekhar : Yes definitely, I used to watch it on television when I was a child and dreamed of having my own creation displayed there someday. But the dream got even stronger when I did an assignment while studying in J J School of Arts. It was to create a tableau for Republic Day Parade. It was as hypothetical assignment but it really stuck in my mind since then.
NT: And now you turned your dream into reality. But how did it happen? How did you got the job?
Shekhar: Maharashtra Government approached me with the regarding this project. And I thank Sanjay Patil, Director, Archaeology Department for the same. They told me that this subject was rejected earlier so this time we projected it in detail explaining that this is an only phenomenon in the world where lakhs of human beings walk hundreds of kilometer together in sync with music and camaraderie. We explained that this is not a religious or superstitious activity and has a vastness which is parallel to none in the world.
NT: When did it all started? And what was the approval process?
Shekhar: It started 4.5 months ago and we had total 6 meetings with Union Defense Ministry in Delhi. For the 3 meetings, I went with drawings and for later 3, I had prepared 3D model and then the actual model of the tableau.
NT: How did you prepare this final design? What studies you did and what procedures you followed?
Shekhar: When I started studying it, I got overwhelmed by the immensity and expanse of it. “Wari” is nothing but an enormous caravan of people walking. And I wanted to show that grandness and enormity through my creation. For that I actually stayed at Pandharpur and witnessed their cloths, musical instruments and the euphoric atmosphere there.
NT: Then you used the outcome of your studies in then design? Which unique points of “Wari” you incorporated in your design?
Shekhar: I studied many references for many days. Through which I noticed that this “wari” or caravan goes through so many different terrains and as Maharashtra is famous for its mountain ranges, I wanted to depict that also. So I included a “Ghaat” in the design with varying sizes of statues to show how we see people at different levels of Ghaat at different size. At the top of that mountain, I placed statues of Namdeo-Tukaram-Dnyaneshwar Maharaj.
While the “Wari” is in progression, they perform 6 “Ringan” (circles/rounds) at different places. I included one such “Ringan” in the design. In a “Ringan”, horses take rounds of the Warkaris in middle who do chants of “Namdeo-Tukoba-Dhyaneshwar Maharaj”. This is very important tradition without which the “Wari” is incomplete so that was must to include in the design.
Then I included the main temple as the Wari concludes on the banks of Chandrabhaga river and the temple is hard to miss in Pandharpur. Then the front portion had a face of a typical Marathi Woman carrying the holy “Tulasi” (Basil) Plant on her head.
NT: I heard that Woman’s Statue was replica of your own mother’s face?
Shekhar: Yes. From childhood, I am watching my mother who is a typical Marathi Woman so I thought who better I can find to model the statue after? It is my tribute to my mother.
NT: Was there anything technically new or unique in this tableau?
Shekhar: Yes. Generally there is only 1 rotating part on any tableau but on this one I had 3 rotating parts. The statues of “Namdeo-Tukoba-Dhyaneshwar Maharaj” at the back were rotating in 360 degrees so that everyone can see them as they are the main saints. In the middle part, it had a horse who which was circling around the live performers. And the Woman’s statue at the front was also rotating in a 45 degrees. So having 3 custom made rotating motors were the unique design element in this tableau.
NT: And there were many statues too…
Shekhar: Yes, There were 250 statues in total which were created with a lot of details which was not visible on television. That was also a unique point.
NT: What is your unforgettable memory during the period when you were creating the tableau?
Shekhar: Yes. The memory I will always cherish is the time I spent at the Rashtriya Ranga Shala ground which was under military security. My 60 people team was there for many days and I used to visit 3 times a week. Till now I had read or heard about the variety of art and culture in India. But there I got to witness the unity in diversity myself as every state was making its tableau. And every evening, artist from different state used to perform their own art and it was great to see that.
NT: You were watching it on television or live at the RajPath? What was the reaction of people when Maharashtra tableau arrived?
Shekhar: I was at the Rajpath and we got tremendous responsive when it arrived and it got standing ovation from Dignitaries from Maharashtra and thunderous applause from everyone.
NT: So this response was just to your design?
Shekhar: No. I won’t say that. It was for the overall package. The dance performers around it, Ajay-Atul’s song “Mauli” which is a hit number from Marathi Movie “Lai Bhari” starring Riteish Deshmukh, all this came together so well that the cumulative effect was mesmerizing for everyone.
NT: As you mentioned the Dance performers, there was “Lezim” Troop from Nagpur and they won 1st prize too.
Shekhar: Yes. Those dancers were terrific and they did give the best performance that day.
NT: Can you share some information about your background and how you got into this industry?
Shekhar: My father was a painter working with many art directors in the film industry. I used to visit him to deliver lunchbox at R. K. Studio and was fascinated with that magical world. So I decided to work in this industry only and got admission in J. J. School of Art. As soon as finished it, I joined Yunus Pathan as assistant and after working 4-5 works with him, I started working independently. Then I did more than 2000 ads and then movies started with “Rock On!”, then Delhi Belly and many other movies including the recent one ie “Happy New Year”.
NT: Any unforgettable memory in you vast career which you would like to share? Anything where you triumphed the unfavorable situation or something like that?
Shekhar: Actually everyday is a challenge and I wonder why it is so. Even after doing so many projects, there is some or other challenge everyday waiting to be resolved. And I give credit to my team that it always helps me get through any challenges which come in the work. Recently I did a set for Shahrukh Khan’s “Raees” where around 600 people worked on that set which was a great challenge in teamwork.
NT: Did computer changed your working style? Do you use special software tools for your work?
Shekhar: Yes, Computers and specially Internet helps a lot in researching a subject. Earlier we had to depend on books for that. As far the software tools are considered, each task demands different tools like Coral Draw, AutoCad, 3D Max, Maya and Photoshop.
NT: So what is your next dream? What do you want to achieve next?
Shekhar: I want to be a successful producer in Marathi Film Industry and wish to produce many unforgettable movies.
NT: Marathi only? Not Hindi? Why so?
Shekhar: Yes, Marathi only. Because I love my mother-tongue and I am proud of Marathi Language.
NT: Getting 1st prize is in itself is big achievement but both your design and the “Lezim” performers were the only 2 photographs which were included on the white house website as “Photo of the day”. People who visit White house website are from around the world and of certain stature. So how does it felt when you heard that yours is the only tableau included on the white house website?
Shekhar: It is an out of the world feeling which can not be expressed in words. It amused me and made me wonder how my art has reached every nook and corner in the world from a tiny little corner in Chembur. I am thankful to to everyone in this journey who helped me and worked with me.
Interviewed By Prashen H. Kyawal