Sacred Games, Netflix’s first Indian original series, opened on 6 July with much aplomb and arguably the best title sequence ever for an Indian production. The eight-part series is based on author Vikram Chandra’s eponymous novel that’s highly layered and draws heavily from Indian mythology. Motion design studio Plexus collaborated with graphic designer Aniruddh Mehta (popularly known as thebigfatminimalist) to create the intricate designs for the title sequence.
They look so exquisite that we hope Netflix sells them as posters soon! For now, we just talked to Aniruddh Mehta and Vijesh Rajan of Plexus to know what went behind crafting the title sequence for the show.
How did you guys come together for this project? What was the process of collaboration?
Vijesh: Aniruddh and I have worked together on music videos in the past, but apart from work, we have known each other for a very long time. I have been following Aniruddh’s work for many years – his experiments with geometric patterns and explorations in sacred geometry (which is a different genre altogether). When we read the script of Sacred Games, we instantly realized that the title sequence has to have a mandala structure, and Aniruddh was the first name that came to our mind.
Aniruddh: I was brought in by Plexus’ Yashodha Parthasarthy and Vijesh to design the show’s logo, the main mandala, and individual episode titles. It was important to get the mandala right as it was an integral part of the story. The brief was to design an 8-sided mandala incorporating subtle references of Hindu and Muslim design elements and tessellations.
The mandala had to house eight motifs—one representing each episode of the season. So my job was to design the mandala and motifs for each episode which would then be worked upon by the Plexus team who would render it in 3D, add additional colour grades, and incorporate that in the main intro title sequence which is intercut with the archival footage of communal violence such as the Rath Yatra, Babri Masjid demolition, etc.
When we read the script of Sacred Games, we instantly realized that the title sequence has to have a mandala structure, and Aniruddh was
the first name that came to our mind.
What was the biggest challenge in designing the titles?
Vijesh: To be honest, I am quite weak in religious and mythological symbolism. I have been friends with Varun Grover, the writer of the show, from Gangs of Wasseypur days. Over several phone conversations, he explained to us the meanings, concepts and religious references. From there, after extensive research, Yashodha came up with the symbols and Aniruddh took the briefs and created these designs that look so contemporary, yet give an age-old story feel.
Aniruddh: Personally for me, as my knowledge of Hindu mythologies was not as deeply rooted as my collaborators, it took a few brainstorming sessions with them to arrive at the right motif that would represent each episode. After that, however, it was a very smooth process.
Which opener is your favourite?
Vijesh: My favourite is Yayati, but I am also kind of drawn to Brahmahatya.
Aniruddh: I think my favourite has to be Halahala, solely because of the way the embellishments of the motif have turned out. It was one of the first ones that I had cracked and I think it set the tone for the rest of the episode titles to follow. Once the bar was set, we had to ensure that the rest looked equally harmonious.
Buy Aniruddh’s art on Art&Found.
Words by Preksha Sharma