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Designing smooth takes

N.S.N. Mohan, a production designer, scouts for foreign destinations


THE SNOW-capped Alps, the ancient vestiges of Greece, the countries Down Under... are available at the push of a button - on the big and small screens. Exotic locales are the order of the day mostly for shooting song sequences and at times a few scenes. Audiences are transported instantly to the lands which they have perhaps just heard of. And one of the persons who presents new foreign destinations in Telugu cinema is N.S.N. Mohan a.k.a. Goodwill Mohan. He is one of those unsung heroes of filmdom who has in just five years completed 100 foreign location assignments as a production designer. A record. He has revolutionised the concept of what previously was just the usual routine (booking air tickets, reaching the destination and shooting on the availability of a good spot) to choosing the country and the location exactly to suit to the script either for a song sequence or a scene. A case in point is Manmadhudu, the first South Indian film to be shot atop the Eiffel Tower. And the sequence: The hero had to express his love to the heroine. "Director Vijayabhaskar and Nagarjuna wanted a beautiful location. I felt the best spot was the top floor of the highest place in Paris. It was a Herculean task to get the necessary permission. Nagarjuna, Sonali Bendre, the director and the cameraman Sameer Reddy were all excited about the location. Back home, the audience got their money's worth. Such planning is possible only when we know the script. I always make it a point to know the scene even if it is a song sequence," says Mohan.

The snow-capped mountain peaks at the border between Austria and Germany formed an ideal location to shoot a duet in a cable car in sub-zero temperatures for Kalusukovalani. "The script demanded such a locale and it was a thrilling experience," recalls Mohan. His first brush with filmdom came when he was with East West Airlines. Balakrishna, Nagarjuna, producers Aswini Dutt and Allu Aravind became part of his clientele and good friends too.

It was Allu Aravind who had suggested to him to undertake foreign travel arrangements for film shoots. "He told me to meet veteran film personality, Peketi Sivaram for tips on travel arrangements. The first film offer I bagged was Antahpuram thanks to Thammareddy Bharadwaj and Krishnavamsy. We went to Mauritius. From then on, there was no looking back. In five years on behalf of my company Goodwill Travels (where he works as a Joint Manager-sales), I have worked for 94 films with six more films on floor. My 100th film will be the Nagarjuna starrer for Sivaprasad Reddy. I have done ten films for E.V.V. Satyanarayana." Mohan feels that most filmmakers are still flocking to New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Switzerland or Thailand. "The audience is getting bored with the monotony and even before the first frame is over, they are able to predict the location. It is time for a change. I have travelled to 40 countries. There are as many exciting locations. In my future projects, with the cooperation from the industry, I would like to introduce Greece, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and the South American continent and break the monotony," says Mohan. He has one grouse. "They talk about the shooting spots abroad and the splendour and virgin beauty of the locations, but not a word about us who made all the arrangements and the smooth shoot possible," says Mohan. Hope the industrywallahs are listening.

M.L. NARASIMHAM

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