In an exclusive chat with, Art Director and Painter Sumit Mishra talks about his journey in the industry.

From childhood, Sumit Mishra has had a passion for painting, and this lead him to his career goal of becoming an Art director for films as well as TV shows.

Hailing from Bihar, the journey of the man started when he moved to Mumbai in the year 2000. After bagging a graduation degree in Fine Arts from Banaras, Sumit Mishra had to go through an initial struggle in Mumbai before he could make it big in the entertainment industry.

In addition to being a renowned name in art direction, the man has also walked miles as a painter too, and has recently made it to the elite group of painters who have had their exhibition at the prestigious Jahangir Art Gallery in Mumbai.

In an exclusive Interview with, the art director cum painter gets into a freewheeling conversation to talk about his journey, achievements and goals for the future.


Tell us about your starting days in the industry.         

I came to Mumbai in the year 2000 and had a struggle for establishment. Even though I was very much fond of painting from my childhood, I had to drop that interest in between when it came to looking for a livelihood in Mumbai. Soon after, in the year 2002, I began my journey as Art Director. And with it I continued to develop the passion of painting.

Do you find any relatability factor behind being a painter and art director?

It is surely related. It is not two things at all. If you are a person from fine arts background or an actor, working as art director is easier. When you read the concept, things are clear before you. Whatever you have to do, comes right in front of you. And you can even show whatever you have visualized to your director. As an art director, being on the same page with the director is always important and this is easier if you are an artist. With over image, art direction cannot happen. You need to be skilled with the hand to become an art director. Also, you need to have a hold on literature too. Our industry is a complete package with art, literature and music playing vital roles. So you are complete only when you know and understand all of it. If anyone of them is missing, it will be tough to work.

What are your works on TV?

I started my work on TV with Bahubali of Prakash Jha. I am presently doing Ghulaam, Waaris and Meri Durga. I have two more shows which are not on air right now. I have earlier been art director for shows Madhubala, Rang Rasiya, Kuch Toh Log Kahenge, Mitwaa and lot many more. I must have done nearly 28 shows on TV.

Tell us about your journey on the big screen as Art Director…

I started my art direction in the year 2002 with the movie Insaaf of Dino Morea. Later I did Ahista Ahista with Shivam Nair and many more. My recent movie has been Alif. My short film Amrita and I wherein I was the Director, has received good appreciation. It is based on Amrita Pritam. Agam, my ambitious project depicting three different aspects of the culture of Banaras is on the verge to get to the International Film Festival Circle.

What are the learnings and knowledge that you have received from this industry?

I learnt punctuality and awareness from my industry. Also, the fact that the show must go on, no matter what has to be understood. It is easier to devlop laziness at work. I am very aware as a person; I learn from whatever I see around me. I am punctual and have the enthusiasm to do something new every time I take up a new project.

As an art director, how do you work differently for the shows you take up?   

Just as every story has newness, I believe that its back ground also has to have something new in it. So when I read the story, I look for that one ‘USP’ point that will make this story different from the other. So when I get a hold of the USP, I work and put that in the backdrop of my set. This is the personal touch I bring in. House is a house. But the difference that one house has from the other needs to be picked up. That small element needs to be felt and put into the set up to make it different.

So what are the minute USP elements that make your sets Waaris and Ghulaam different?

Both are of a different backdrop and psychology, and even the geography differs. Also the audience is different. The element cannot be explained in words, but the person who sees it can see it being differently made. For ex – Ghulaam is completely the tale of a male’s world. The place in itself Behrampur gives a touch of cruelty to it. The show has a rustic scale. Also, the vacuum left with the absence of a woman in the place needs to be shown via art. The unfinished ambience has to be created, as the story is all about a tale where importance is not given to a woman. As we know, the presence of a woman in one’s life makes life complete. So this needs to be established.

On the other hand, Waaris is all about the colourful Punjab. It is about girls, the women, their liveliness and their colors in life. So there has been a use of bright colors to establish their vibrant nature.

Moving to your work as painter, do you specialize in a particular form of art in your painting?

My forte as a painter is to imbibe and put across whatever I see around me in my paintings. Also, I do not give my painting a photographic lift, but I present it in a very poetic way. This is why every painting of mine will have a glimpse of a poem.

My first show was at Aks Art Gallery, in Lokhandwala, Mumbai. It is closed now. I had my exhibition there in the year 2015. Now, I had my exhibition at Jehangir Arts Gallery. It is not easy to feature your paintings there. So it was a dream come true to have my solo show from 27 June to 3 July.

What was the theme you worked in at Jehangir Art Gallery?

I had chosen the topic of ‘tranquility’ for my first exhibition at Aks. My paintings were philosophical, with teachings of Buddha and Osho as the crux. For the Jehangir Art exhibition, my theme was on ‘Abhivyakti or Expressions’ wherein I had involved political, religious, emotional expressions in the paintings. I had a total of about 16 paintings at the exhibition. I had done the ‘out of canvas’ painting and not the usual flat painting. As I said, all my paintings had a related poetry to it. I used the works of the renowned poets Dushyant Kumar, Dhumil and Avatar Singh Paas in all my paintings.

Do you explain the painting usually?

Well, it is not needed all the time. But if it is required, I do explain. But for a layman, these paintings give an enjoyment and satisfaction.However, it is not always important that the painter and the person who sees it are on the same page of understanding. I would have made the painting with a certain thought in mind, but a layman might understand it differently and like it.

What are your future goals with respect to your exhibitions?

I will have my next exhibition in Delhi. Post that, I want to use the works of the poet Faiz. I am also doing films as director.

Your advice to budding art directors?  

The simple fact is that if anyone wants to do art direction, the person needs to have the knack and calibre to feel the story. Later, as art director you need to make that reflect in your work. Just as a director lives the story, the art director also needs to live that journey. To sum it up, you need to feel the story, have the power to visualize and execute the same in your work as an art director.

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Journalist. covering Indian television News, Bollywood, OTT News and digital ecosystem, Gaming, Sports, Lifestyle, creators, Celebrity News and Shows.

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