She has styled Rock On!!, Karthik Calling Karthik, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, Band Baaja Baaraat and more.... But for some time, Niharika Bhasin Khan has had her hands full with The Dirty Picture. In a chat with t2, she shares whats making her nervous as the film nears release (December 2).
The promos of The Dirty Picture have got everyone talking...
My first reaction is that I am nervous... I am nervous about the film. I hope people like Vidya (Balan)... (I hope) she doesnt come across as sleazy. But I am also excited that there is such a great buzz about the film. We are all really exhausted from the shooting and then the promos and getting ready for it to release. We are also excited because the cohesiveness of the team hasnt gone away; the excitement and the energy is still there….
When you work on a film, you hope that you can get the graph right and you can carry it through the film. The film is about a story and where the story goes. Now, everyone is so focused on the look, you dont want the look to take away what the story is telling you. Yes, it is a period film and the look is a part of how the story is told, but you dont want to overpower that.
Are the challenges of styling for a biopic greater than other films?
I think any film will have limitations. Working on Rock On!! also had limitations. You are working within the framework of making it a cool, hip rock space. When you are doing a Band Baaja Baaraat, the limitations are showing the economic status and how you want to portray each family. In Rocket Singh, we had major limitations. We did not want to make it like all other Sardars who have been characterised as caricatures. I think we broke that and gave him (Rocket Singh) the semblance of being a cooler Sardar.
For The Dirty Picture we could have taken things directly from Silk Smitha and just recreated them. But my limitations are my actresses. The body type is different and I have to make it look amazing. I am not making a regional film, but a national film and I cannot take into account all that I can get away with in regional cinema. It doesnt matter whether it is a biopic. You have to make it your own… adapt it.
Whats your own perception of Silk Smitha?
I think many actresses have the same inclination… they go through a serious high and then drop down because they dont know how to deal with the pressure. So, there is an intense sadness I think... you also admire her... I watched all the Silk Smitha films. She was a styling sensation. She put herself together brilliantly. There is one film where shes completely wrapped herself in rope... in one she has strange headgear like feathers... you also see her within the framework of showing skin when nobody else did. I think there is a semblance of being different that comes across.
Where have you sourced all your stuff from?
We went to the south Indian areas of Bombay... mainly Matunga. We also went to Dadar market, Kurla and picked up some stuff from Hyderabad too. Vidya went with me to shop. She is the best assistant one can ever have! Vidya is amazingly dedicated. When you are dealing with actors, you have got to try and build their trust. Because we were stepping out and doing something so different, to have her trust was an honour.
What are you working on right now?
I have just started working on David Dhawans Chashme Buddoor where I am working on a couple of characters… Ali Zafar, Siddharth, Rishi Kapoor, Lilette Dubey, Anupam Kher and Divyendu (Sharma).
You have also done costumes for Ketan Mehtas Rang Rasiya that has been in the cans for a long time. It is being screened at the 17th Calcutta Film Festival on Wednesday...
Please call me as I have not seen the film! I am dying to see the film. Again a film that I am really looking forward to... very serious... very tight budget… so, very excited. Since we were dealing with paintings, it had to be exact. There were times when I remember painting an entire border on a sari. We did not have money to buy the border to put on the sari. Fun hard work!
She has a graph that goes from being young and not famous to getting famous. A lot of south Indian actresses go through the same graph. You come from a humble background, you get fame, you dont know how to deal with all the fame... you go through self-destruction. So, there are these different frameworks in her clothing... what she does... how much weight she puts on or loses... she has different phases. Coming in… trying to struggle her way through... making it, then not making it….
Youll see her in gowns, a lot of dresses, skirts, pants, trousers, saris, the dhoti pants with the small blouses, the half-saris.... She is also doing a lot of in-film costumes.
He is a superstar in the film. I have always said this... anything you put on him, he makes it his own. And the first time we did his look test — his was the first look test that we did actually — we had gone completely over-the-top and we had made a caricature of what it was... we had made him (look like) Quick Gun Murugan! Then we had to re-look and redo his entire wardrobe. For some reason in south India, jackets are a big thing... and matching colours. I have taken elements of the period and used that within the framework of who he is.
His graph is relatively stagnant. It is not dynamic. We have tried to keep him within the framework of someone who really doesnt care about his clothing, but secretly does care. I have tried to work that within the framework of his clothing. Again very 80s. We have given him glasses because we wanted him to look more intellectual… an angry young man.
He does change from basically being unsuccessful and not confident to confident and successful… cool. He plays a struggling writer. He is not economically badly-off. He is just not confident enough to carry off a few things. He starts off with polo necks and then goes into a little more structured clothing.