The set design of a play or a film or TV show is as important as the story unfolding on it. From Broadway to Bollywood, award-winning Indian American production designer Neil Patel is impressing one and all with his keen sense of style, striking and elegant use of space, and telling character detail.
The New York-based Patel recently acted as a scenic designer for the first-ever Broadway revival of J.B. Priestley’s “Time and the Conways.”
In the play, which is set in 1919, Mrs. Conway is full of optimism during her daughter's lavish 21st birthday celebration. The Great War is over, wealth is in the air, and the family’s dreams bubble over like champagne. Jump 19 years into the future, though, and the Conways’ lives have transformed unimaginably. This time-traveling play takes place at the crossroads of today and tomorrow — challenging viewers’ notions of choice, chance and destiny.
“I was inspired by Do Ho Suh’s fabric buildings,” Patel told broadwayworld.com. “They made me see a way to create a ‘ghost’ room of Act 2 which could live simultaneously with the room from Act 1. The simultaneity of the two spaces from different moments in time would illustrate in a powerful way the idea of time put forth by Priestley in the play. Instead of a literal change in the aging and decor of the room as is indicated in the text, we found an exciting and theatrical way to go from Act 1 to Act 2.”
Roundabout Theatre Company concluded its Broadway production of “Time and the Conways,” directed by Tony winner Rebecca Taichman, Nov. 26, after having played 28 preview performances and 56 regular performances.
Patel, with his stunning vision, makes sets come alive in all mediums. Some of the Hollywood films in which he has shown his mastery of the art include Hulu’s “The Path,” “Little Boxes,” “Loitering with Intent” and “Some Velvet Morning.” His television credits include FX’s “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” the HBO series “In Treatment,” and Direct TV’s “Billy and Billie.”
The production design for “Dil Dhadakne Do,” the blockbuster film starring Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar, was also done by Patel.
Some of his theater and opera credits include “Indian Ink,” the passionate and fascinating drama by four-time Tony Award winner Tom Stoppard; Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Father Comes Home from the Wars” (Parts 1, 2 and 3); “Oleana,” starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles; Cherry Lane Theater’s “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” and “Mughal-E-Azam,” the musical play based on K. Asif’s 1960 extravaganza starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala.