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For over 16 years, production designer Vanita Kumar, along with her husband Omung Kumar, has been creating sets for Hindi films—the Black world of Rani Mukerji or the fantasy world of Saawariya for Ranbir Kapoor. Now Vanita has set up her own store, Bioscopewalli, in Mumbai, to showcase her own world, which happens to be inspired by renaissance art. Borrowing the name of the store from childhood memories of looking through a bioscope, and “being amazed at the colours and patterns", Bioscopewalli is Vanita’s attempt at playing narrator.

The husband and wife team, with a background in advertising, have done sets for live events, for TV shows like Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Nach Baliye and MasterChef India; and many films. “Somewhere in the middle of all this, I had always wanted to open my own home interiors store," recalls Vanita. From the time she first got the idea—when she was working on Saawariya back in 2006-07—till last year when she actually started setting up the store, Vanita says it was all about following her heart.

A walk through Bioscopewalli is an easy give-away of Vanita’s love for art and cinema. You walk under a Sistine Chapel-inspired ceiling, towards a grotto in one corner and an artificial tree in another, created with hundreds of vintage postcards hanging from it, some rolled up inside bottles. “I like to call them bottles of memories. I wish a real tree was growing in the middle of my store but anyway, I went on to create one. I love trees. I use them often in my work in films as well," says Vanita.

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The digitally-printed Mona Lisa chairs

“An artist always wants to do something for themselves. And I wanted to do this. Even on our sets, Omung would design the set and I would style it. I would create the mood to match the character’s personality. I would take care of the little things, the details. I’ve had to source things that you just can’t buy off a shelf. It takes rigorous search, looking through flea markets, sometimes creating things from scratch. But I really enjoy doing that," she says. Her time is spent mostly at the 3,000-sq. ft store and a workshop in Goregaon where her team of karigars (craftsmen) from Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai give shape to her designs. Everything at the store is designed, and not sourced from other designers.

From sketching to the final production of a piece, Vanita is involved at every step. There is no repetition of a design. “I am very keen on individuality. I don’t want to do repeats. Though it looks like I may have to repeat one or two hot-selling ones, like the Mona Lisa dining chairs, since people are requesting for it," she adds.

To add to the exclusivity, each piece comes with a booklet or a little note that tells the story of that particular product—it could be about what it’s inspired by, or something about its making.

“I want my pieces to tell a story, to offer an experience to someone who buys them," she says.

Bioscopewalli, X Cube building, opposite Fun Republic Cinema, Andheri West, Mumbai. Furniture pieces range between 35,000 and 5.5 lakh, accessories start at 5,000.

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