Architect and art director Shyam Bhatia is the man behind the magnificent sets of many reality shows and stage events

Shyam Bhatia wants to make Kerala his second home. This architect-cum-art director fell in love with the state after his work took him to the South from his native Mumbai. At a time when lavish sets and magnificent designs are integral to every reality show, stage event or function, Shyam’s portfolio boasts major works on Malayalam television, in addition to popular shows on national television.

Shyam, 30, has some big shows to his credit that he designed for channels such as Colors, Zee TV, Sony, and Star Plus. In Malayalam, he is currently associated with programmes on Mazhavil Manorama and Asianet. In a chat over the telephone with MetroPlus, Shyam talks about his work and what keeps him connected to Kerala. Over to Shyam:

His brush with set designing

I have been associated with television, architectural projects, interior designing and advertising industry for over 10 years now. I was doing my final year in architecture at Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, when I had to do a project on architecture and set designing and the elements they shared. That is how I happened to learn more about set designing and got attracted to the field. I started out as an assistant art director to renowned production designer Samir Chanda before starting work on my own. I have done some 200 projects for television.

Role of set designers

In the present scenario, set designers have to look at the bigger picture. That is, when we design a set, it is done in close coordination with various other departments. We have to know about how the set would be lit up, where the cameras would be placed and how it would be edited. We have discussions with the creative head before finalising the design. The set meant for a dance show has to be different from the one for a comedy show. The essence of the set should be such that it has to complement the act on the stage, be it a dance, a skit or a song. Safety is a priority. For example, fire exits are now integral to each set.

His journey to the South

It started with Mazhavil Manorama. I have been associated with it from its early days and have done the set designs for shows such as Veruthe Alla Bharya, Katha Ithuvare, Midukki, Indian Voice, Comedy Festival, Take It Easy, D 4 Dance and Cinemaa Chirimaa among others. Now I’m also working for Asianet, for the ongoing season of Star Singer. I had earlier done the set for Asianet Film Awards held in Dubai and the Asianet Television Awards.

North vs. South

Regional channels have been following the national channels and have now started giving importance to the set design. Since most of these channels have their audience abroad also, they don’t want to compromise on the quality of their sets. There is still a lot of difference between the north and south, especially in the amount being spent on putting up the sets. However, I think the gap is getting reduced.

On Kerala

I love the state for its greenery, food and, most of all, the architecture. In Mumbai, what you see is only a concrete jungle, whereas here you can see the horizon and nature in its full beauty. I want to do more projects here. In fact, I plan to open a branch of my architectural wing here. I am already doing a work for an academic institution in Kochi. I want places such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram to look good with its architecture. Another area I want to work on is weddings. Malayalis are known to spend more on gold on their weddings. But I would like to organise a few upmarket weddings to show how you can make a wedding a memorable occasion in the lives of the bride and the groom.

Dream design

I want to do a period project…

Top designs

Shyam has been a production designer/art director for shows such as Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar, Bigg Boss (seasons 4 and 5), India’s Got Talent (2011), Dance India Dance (DID), DID Little Masters, Nach Baliye 5, Indian Idol 5, Chotte Ustaad, Guinness Book of World Records (India), Saregamapa, Femina Miss India (2013), and Masterchef Junior, to name a few. He has also worked in a few Hindi movies. He started the company Leesha Designs over five years ago.