At the recently concluded Pune Design Festival, Tanumoy Bose, a post-graduate film student from National Institute of Design (NID), and a filmmaker, screened a short film — Gajanan Upadhyay: Father of Furniture. The film was a tribute to the legendary furniture designer and currently a visiting faculty member at the National Institute of Design.
The 30-minute long film features some of the most significant people ,who have been touched by Upadhyay, popularly known as GU. The film has been produced by NID and edited by Madhuri Ravishankar.
Bose, who hails from Purnia, the north-eastern part of Bihar bordering West Bengal, says, “To understand the designs of GU, I had to first understand him as a person. I realised that whatever GU does, it is rooted within him. For example, if he sees a chair which is very heavy and has embellishments, he would immediately tell you that it’s not something that he liked. He is a very simple man and that is the core of his work. I had to reflect that in the film.”
The film on GU also helped Bose the filmmaker co-relate with design. Says he, “I aspired to be a filmmaker. But at the NID campus, I was surrounded by designers. When I was studying, I didn’t relate to design at all. I felt I would be cheating the world by holding that degree. However, while working on the short film, I found my relationship with design and learnt to relate the two. The fundamentals of filmmaking and design are the same. I believe that the purpose of the design is to make the broken look beautiful and imbibe the flaw in such a way that it looks like a design. I have tried to do the same in the film.”
“In filmmaking, there are certain shots which do not come out well and turn out to be shaky. Either you hide and do away with the shot or use it along with other ‘imperfectly captured’ shots and create a kind of rhythm or a pattern in the film,” Bose adds.
Ravishankar, the editor of the film, added to what Bose said, “There’s a shot in the film, in which GU is walking and Tanumoy is following him with his camera. The movement is so shaky; GU is walking in a Charlie Chaplin-ish way, with his voice in the background. But we chose to use the shot and incorporate it in the film. GU is suffering from bronchitis and when he talks, there is sound of very heavy breathing that follows and Bose used it beautifully in the film to add some realism.”
Talking about choosing the people in the film, Ravishankar says, “To pick them was not difficult, but to get them together to speak about GU was difficult as they are spread across the world. We had to narrow down the list to be able reach who were accessible. John Matthew, his first student was very significant, so he had to be there in the film. There were many more interviews done for the film, but we couldn’t feature them, as we needed to bring down the length of the film from an hour to 30 minutes,” she adds.