As part of the exchange programme between La Fémis, Paris and Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), four students, namely Magalie Biard, Valentine Gauthier, Luce Jalbert and Martin Rebufello are on a visit to Pune. The final year Art Direction students had to create two sets — an Indian and a French, as part of their project. They have recreated the famous Vishrambaug Wada, the 19th century structure built by the Peshwas.
When we caught up with the students at FTII, they were giving finishing touches to the wada. According to Biard, the biggest challenge for them was to create the project in 4-5 days after coming here, when they were still getting acquainted with Indian culture. “The second day after we landed in Pune, we went to the city area and visited Vishrambaug Wada to understand the architecture. The structure is symmetrical and it was interesting for us to create it. In the process, we got to understand the culture of its original residents — their lifestyle, religious practices etc,” says Biard.
Jalbert says that they were given books and pictures for reference. “It’s more of an interpretation than just copying the architecture,” adds Jalbert, who has studied architecture before getting into art direction.
Gauthier says that while working on the project, it was also necessary to understand the rules to build such a structure.
“And we realised that it was difficult to apply the rules when we were recycling material. So it was an experimentation. We took help from the set workers who work with FTII. Also, we had to design it in a short time. The wada was created in five days,” says Gauthier, who has studied Interior Architecture and Urban Design as a graduate.
The students unanimously say that taking the project to its completion was not just a professional experience but a human one too. It left a lasting impact on their mind as they got to enjoy every moment. “From meeting people to going to the hills, we did it all. People on the streets invited us home for meals, we also participated in their festivities,” says Gauthier.
Ask them what they feel about India and they say that both, the weather and the people are extremely good. “The weather is cold, so we like it. People are very welcoming. It is interesting to see that the work you do here is very different from the way we work back in our school or the way we work with the carpenters,” says Gauthier, who has worked as an art director in theatre.
The biggest difference the students say is the way people here reuse materials. “It’s easy to embrace such kind of situation. We make everything from the scratch. But here carpenters recycle the material. They use the same window, door but put new cloth or plywood, which is very interesting and important considering the times we live in today. I feel we waste a lot in our institute. Also, we don’t have the same tools,” says Jalbert.
Biard adds that they are in middle of their term and it’s a great time to learn a different set of design and culture.