“Films are where I start to think from,” says Mumbai based interior designer Rupin Suchak while describing his design style. The man has built film sets for blockbusters like Ki & Ka, Dear Zindagi, a popular web series Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, as well as homes for Alia Bhatt and Sonakshi Sinha. His passion for the offbeat and unusual, a filmi bent of mind finds its way into every project he has worked on. His talent lies in picking up a thread that runs through a client’s mind, then spinning it on its head to weave visual delights unlike anything you have ever seen before. “My constant feedback to my team is to learn and unlearn things, imagine concepts to be larger than life,” says Suchak, this advice is perhaps a lesson from his production designer background.
Describing his design aesthetic, Suchak says, “I derive inspiration from everything I see around me, textures, characters, and details are very important to me.” Defining himself as a designer above all else, Suchak is open to working on any project that excites him, that gets his creative juices flowing and allows him to design. In a hour-long conversation with LuxeBook, Suchak gets down into the details of his 15 years of experience designing for the who’s who of Bollywood.
A chance application got him an internship under veteran production designer Sabu Cyril in 2010. And that was that. From his first assignment on the sets of Ra. One, he has now worked on films such as Padman. “Set design is quite different than interiors, it has time constraints,” says Suchak.
In a film the visual identity is decided in pre-production and the screenplay helps production designers understand requirements. The process to design a set remains the same, starting from ideation to planning the layout to referencing. The difference is the incorporation of cinematic elements, things that make an environment seem luxuriously aspirational or even inspirational for movie-goers. Giving the example of Ki & Ka, Suchak mentions the detailed train that ran around Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor’s character’s home. The inspiration for this element stemmed from the director, R. Balki’s desire to make Kapoor’s character that of a train lover. Suchak took that idea and transformed into one of the most talked about décor details in the film. In fact, a family from Dubai loved the concept so much, they hired Suchak to create a similar experience in their own home. Till date that train runs around their home, “Who would have thought the miniature train would make it from a sketch to a movie to a client’s house,” says Suchak. The script of a film also plays a big role in deciding its sets; take Suchak’s Dear Zindagi as an example. Since the screenplay was subtle in its messaging, the designer ideated a spectrum of 12 shades to be used in the films sets. While this may not strike a viewer at first glance, the overall visual language of a film is transformed. Even in the Akshay Kumar starrer Padman, colour was an important aspect. As the film focused on menstruation, a subject that had to be treated with care, Suchak decided to use white to add purity and serenity. “60% of the frames have white in Padman,” confirms Suchak.
Having done about a thousand television commercials, Suchak explains that a production designer gets only about three to four days to build a set from scratch in a TV commercial project. Shah Rukh Khan’s house and office in Dear Zindagi took 13 days to get ready. In the film fraternity timelines are often tight due to the packed schedules of actors. After a decade of experience, the designer and his team have become used to this environment of hectic on-set days where requirements can pop up at any minute. Having worked in LA and London on sets Suchak compares their timelines with those of Bollywood, explaining, “What takes 3 days here, takes 20 days there.”
This fast-paced work ethic has carried forward from his film set production projects to his interior design ones. Suchak worked a complete remodel of actor Sonakshi Sinha’s home and handed over the keys in a month. While Sinha had provided no specific brief, having stayed with her parents, she just wanted a place to call her own, where she could spend all her time. With the help of some references from the internet, Suchak and Sinha locked down on a vibe that the latter wished the space to have, and Suchak took it ahead from there. “Creating a vibe in space is important to me in all my projects,” says Suchak, who went on to transform Sinha’s references into a home.
He gave her apartment, which is a floor of its own, housed in a building owned by her family, a dreamy look. The colour white played a central role but Suchak infused the layout with retro pops of colours. Sheer white drapes, contrast with teal and blush pink upholstery in the living area, and a bright painting by the actress herself makes an appearance. Art Deco elements such as a bright yellow, pink, aqua stain glass panels give way to clean white lines. Arched doorways frame every entrance, giving space a more cozy and romantic feel. The space is minimal and luxurious, with surprise elements of quirk, like a neon sign in the kitchen that signifies Sinha’s favourite quote by Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond.” Designing the actress a space she could spend all her time in was important to Suchak, who himself is a homebody and loves to spend time in his comfort zone with his wife.
Alia Bhatt’s Bandra home is a celebrity interior project that remains close to the designer’s heart. Suchak worked on during the lockdown in 2020. An excess of time allowed both Suchak and the Bhatt family to ponder and discuss the design. Usually juggling several projects at any given time, the lockdown allowed Suchak to peacefully devote all his attention to Bhatt’s home. “I still remember exactly what is on each wall, where each electric board is in what place at her home,” says Suchak. Another design project that Suchak is extremely proud of is a gym vanity van crafted especially for actor Ranveer Singh. “To my knowledge, this doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, not in India at least,” confirms Suchak. The brief was to create a literal gym on wheels for the fitness conscious star, an undertaking that required technical knowledge of weight distribution. Plus, the van had to be designed in such a way that the myriad potholes in the city do not cause the equipment to fall. In the end, the vanity van turned out better than he expected. In a conversation with Singh, Suchak says, “He [Singh] told me that ‘something went right in terms of energy, from the moment I stepped in [the van], I’m crazy about this.’ And how he spends so much more time there.”
Suchak’s interior design journey started with the office he did for director R. Balki and his wife Gauri Shinde. It was not a conscious decision to expand into interiors, however through the exposure from said office, the film fraternity flocked to Suchak for their own personal homes and offices. Alia Bhatt, who visited Balki’s office space, first contacted Suchak for her 2,800 sq. ft. home office home office in Juhu which was designed as a haven of warmth and comfort for the actress. Exposed white brick walls, Mediterranean-style flooring, armchairs, and sectionals tufted in yellow, teal, and baby pink cover the area. A special vanity section, where Bhatt gets ready for appearances and a balcony with potted plants and a wooden swing, are ideal cozy nooks that Suchak designed for the actress to unwind.
From his first interior design project in July 2019 to the present day, the designer has completed 36 such projects. In addition to this, Suchak has also ventured into the F&B design space, with Wakai, a Japanese restaurant nestled in the heart of South Mumbai. The proposal to decorate Wakai also came to Suchak through the film industry, as the owner of the restaurant’s wife, Neha, is an actress and a fan of Suchak’s work. Though the design expert had never worked on a restaurant space before, he had experience in the area. “I have designed around a hundred restaurants on set in the past,” jokes Suchak. Just like with his other projects, Suchak’s aim was to create a vibe for Wakai that left diners amazed. And he has done just that, as patrons are welcomed to the restaurant that resembles the streets of Japan. Eschewing the usual modern clean lines of Asian restaurants in Mumbai, Suchak placed a Japanese umbrella canopy at the entrance, alongside a pink neon Wakai sign. Hand-painted black cats, black-and-white patterned steps, anime characters, street art style murals offer photo opportunities in every corner. Though it was his first project, it may not be his last, as the celebrity interior designer is open to exploring the F&B design space further.
In the pipeline
Suchak has also got his hands full with film sets and interior design projects. Currently, he is working on Excel Entertainment’s Yudhra, starring actor Sidhant Chaturvedi in the titular role, in which the sets are to be given a John Wick style treatment. Suchak is also scouting locations for the much-awaited Farhan Akhtar directed Jee Le Zaraa, a road trip film that features Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt. Suchak prefers to complete one film project at a time due to the hands-on nature of the scope of work. When it comes to interior design, Suchak is working on Kangana Ranaut’s home, director Anubhav Sinha’s mansion in Juhu in addition to various Bollywood producer’s homes.