Suzanne Meherwanji
Production designer for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Some of the interiors for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara were sets and some were actual locations. Since it was a road trip, it became about how many different places one could go to. Each of the sports showcased in the film changes in colour. Zoya and I just got into a car and drove across Spain.

The shooting of Tomatina was done in two modes: the first was documentary shooting of the actual Tomatina festival, which required the crushing and splattering of tomatoes by a crowd enjoying the occasion. It was difficult to find a place to shoot with the stars and the tomatoes since no town wanted their streets to be splattered. So, the decision taken was to implement a documentary style, which would ensure the scale of the event. The closeups were shot separately, with the stars in another place. It was a combination of documentary and fiction-style shooting.

The bull run at the end of the film was also complicated. There were little bits that were shot with stunt people, and the rest was like a documentary.

The police station was an interior in India. All the other interiors were shot in Spain. A beach house as well as a castle were used. The castle was near Barcelona and was redecorated. A small location in Barcelona was used for the motel, referred to as the Tomatina Hotel. Three rooms were taken there to create the sets. I like to use built locations and make necessary changes to them, transforming them.

Zindagi was a fantasy film about wealthy boys; we wanted people to become wowed by Spain. At the end of the day, filmmaking is about getting away from the mundane world.

For Naseeruddin Shah’s house, we found a villa—a beautiful house outside Barcelona. Since he was an artist in the story, an earthy feel was required in the all-white villa. Both Zoya and I are very particular about locations and believe locations should say something about the characters. In the villa, a large room was changed to reflect his character graph.

I started originally as a set decorator; then you interact with art directors and props. I found commercial cinema lacking in details. There was always a huge set and no detailing. For me, set decoration gives you the subtitling for the story. How do you create subtitles for the characters, their environment, and their backstories?

In a Hindi movie, shooting abroad plays a major role if the script demands it. In the south of India, it’s the stars placement on location that feeds the aspiration level.

Interview Extracts
Search 100+ European locations analysis in Indian cinema

Press Enter / Return to begin your search or hit ESC to close

New membership are not allowed.

All Rights Reserved. © 2024 India Europe Film Connections. Terms and Conditions