It is in the commercial films that an art director can show off his talent and not art films. I am saying this from past experience. Till I got the National award for my work in Nayakan, the award for art direction was going to films made by great filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal. But it is more challenging to make commercial films realistic.
Shankar narrated the story of Sivaji so beautifully that I started imagining how to work on the film. He also said there was a lot of scope for me to exploit. Shankar always wants everything larger than life. I told him then that Ramoji Rao Film City [in Hyderabad] is the place where we could do something really big.
We had to shoot the Vaaji song first and Shankar wanted a palace with lots of colour. We had done almost all the Indian palaces and I had even created an Egyptian palace for Rajnikanth's other film Mannan. So I wanted something different. That was when I decided to create a Babylonian kind of palace for the song. Manish Malhotra designed the clothes accordingly.