During the recent trailer launch of the highly anticipated KGF Chapter 2, director Prashanth Neel proudly said that he worked with the best technicians in the world for the film. There is no doubt that the chief of these technicians is art director Shivakumar J, who is one of the strongest pillars of this Yash standout.
The state-award winning director, who graduated in fine arts at Chitrakala Parishath, made his directorial debut with Ravichandran Aham Premasmi (2005). Having worked in over 30 films, Shivakumar won his second state award for KGF Chapter 1. Ahead of the film’s April 14 release, Shivakumar tells us how the film just expanded in every conceivable facet with KGF Chapter 2. He begins by thanking his team who worked hard and worked together to creatively bring the vision for the film to life.
Speaking of the film’s popularity, Shivakumar said, “The KGF the sets have become a landmark now, and people often visit these places in the state. This popularity also turns into expectations, and Shivakumar assures us that the artworks of KGF Chapter 2 will be 10 times bigger than the first film. “It’s not like we decided to scale up the sequel only after the success of the first part. It was always there in the script from the development stage,” he says.
For Shivakumar and the team, KGF was their second home from the moment they started working on the sets. Share the work process of KGF Chapter 2, the art director said that Prashanth Neel gave time to exhibit his creativity and never pushed them with a deadline. “From day one of our job, Prashanth said, ‘We won’t start filming until you’ve finished the set work and the design,’ and that allowed us to go into great detail. In fact, I felt we could finish our work in a month and a half, but it took us three,” he explains.
After making nearly 20 major sets and 15 smaller sets for the film, Shivakumar says the set design is original and not inspired by any other film. “We studied and watched documentaries, and accordingly we planned the sets. Every work of art that we see in KGF is original and it is something that will not be seen in any previous film. We came up with a number of concept sketches. We made sure that our works also gave space to cinematography. says Shivakumar, adding, “We often had discussions with the director about what kind of activities take place in a particular setting, and we plan and work accordingly.”
Shivakumar says there has been a lot of improvisation done for KGF Chapter 2. Elaborating on the tone used in the film, he said the dark hue in KGF was given to show the pain that the working class is going through. “I specifically considered Dutch artist Rembrandt’s lighting techniques and color combination, which are very dramatic. Each artwork in KGF looks like a painting, but also has commercial elements.
Discussing his working relationship with Prashanth Neel, Shivakumar says, “To create a large canvas for KGF was possible thanks to the director’s imagination and the support of producer Vijay Kirangadur. As Prashanth Neel had thoroughly studied his film, it was an advantage for us. He’s a clear director and he had clear instructions on what he wanted. We didn’t find it difficult because he gave us the right input.
Revealing an interesting detail about KGF Chapter 2“Explains Shivakumar: “With the exception of a few objects like telephones, we have avoided plastic in our works. Instead, we bought used military tents to build the work colony. It was also important that even the costumes worn by the performers matched the decor. Shivakumar also remembers how time often played the spoiler for KGF Chapter 2. “The rain would wreak havoc on our plans. Sometimes we could not analyze the soft ground, and the granite stones created obstacles when erecting the sets. The rain would dampen the scenery and the colors would fade. It was difficult to bring back the same sets because the illustrations cannot be done mathematically. We cannot offer the exact same configuration every time. But we managed to do our best,” says Shivakumar, adding, “Everything about KGF felt simple because we enjoyed working on it. Every lesson I learned as a fine arts graduate has stood me in good stead while creating the world of KGF.”
Shivakumar, who plans to watch the film on the first day’s premiere, continues to claim that the two KGF movies have never been a one man show. “Until the success of KGF, the art department was not widely recognized. Today, much importance is attached to the creative side of cinema. I am grateful to everyone who brought us to the forefront,” he concludes.