The look of PK

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  • Published 25.11.14

Ever since Aamir Khan stepped out in that yellow lehnga on the sets of Rajkumar Hirani’s PK, curiosity had peaked about what the 3 Idiots actor-director jodi were up to. When the first poster came out with Aamir the marketing whiz in the buff, posing with just a transistor, the Internet exploded with a meme a minute. And, now, with the trailer and more posters out, PK’s strange costumes are a big talking point.

Manoshi Nath and Rushi Sharma, two Delhi girls — now based in Mumbai — are behind PK’s costumes. Manoshi, a Bengali from Assam, met Rushi on the sets of a commercial way back in 1998. They set up their company Fools’ Paradise in 2007, a year after they collaborated on Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla ka Ghosla! While Manoshi had “apprenticed” with Parineeta man Pradeep Sarkar in “400 commercials”, Rushi studied fashion at NIFT Delhi and also dabbled in theatre costume design and commercials before taking the Bolly plunge. And the two now have quite a CV featuring films like Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Shanghai, Talaash and Queen. Coming up next is Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshi. Being each other’s “best friend” is the secret of this super partnership. A t2 chat...

PK’s trailer is so much fun…

PK was a fabulous project for us. It is always an experience working with Aamir. Raju’s is the best example of film-making… doing intelligent cinema while making people laugh. What is amazing about Raju’s films is their repeat value. The story is very strong. PK is a surprise package. It’s fantastic for us because Aamir has a distinct character. This was our first film with Raju. PK is a film with heart and soul. It is a film which will make us laugh, dance, sing and cry and eventually think hard. What else would you expect from Raju and Aamir together? We have depicted the characters and their journey through their costumes.

Take us through PK’s costume journey…

He is a guy who is all heart and his clothes reflect that. It is an ode to costume designing. Lucky for us! Raju has the most bizarre way of articulating his characters. It is very interesting to translate his brief into costumes because he talks about the emotion every character is going through. Instead of just describing the character and his clothes, he made us go through what PK is going through… emotions of love and heartbreak…. PK is someone who does not have many clothes. He picks up clothes from strange places and situations. We did the same. We started to visit places which are out of our comfort zone and asking people for clothes with bizarre stories of why we needed them. It is an idea Aamir had come up with. He said, ‘Do not buy clothes for my character in PK. Let’s take people’s clothes!’ That was his biggest input. It just cracked PK’s look! We travelled to small towns for sourcing.

What has come out of this exercise is that none of the clothes fit Aamir too well. They are either too loose or too tight or too short. We have made no alterations to the clothes that we got. The only piece that is designed is the band costume. What you’ll find in some of the posters is that Aamir and Sanjay (Dutt) are wearing the same costumes and so are Aamir and Anushka (Sharma). So, there is something that is happening there that you’ll have to watch out for. That’s the only look that we have done for Sanjay Dutt. It is an Angarkha in typical Rajasthani prints, the Rajasthani pagdi and Aviators. He is going to be, as usual, one of the most lovable characters in the film.

This was our first sourcing trip ever which was without money. We were back to the barter system. We bought shirts and pants and went to small towns like Mandawa (Rajasthan), for example, and exchanged them. People opened up their wardrobes and hearts to us. Aamir has managed to fit into the shirt of an 18-year-old boy! We couldn’t have bought that shirt from anywhere… delicious flavour of small-town India. The yellow lehnga was given to us by a man who came with a potli of his wife’s clothes! There is a subtle transformation. Initially, he starts with a little tie-and-dye, Rajasthani prints and a little burst of colour. Then he goes subtle with stripes and checks… the collar with a different stripe and the pocket with a different check… so, you would notice such nuances in the costume.

Is Aamir Khan wearing lipstick?

PK is chewing paan all the time! There is a story connected to his chewing paan too! The funny thing is how Aamir has such a fabulous body in spite of chewing insane amounts of paan every day. Thanks to him, the whole crew was chewing paan by the end of it.

What about Anushka Sharma’s look?

She is a Delhi girl. Her character is called Jagat Janani and her style is functional. She does a lot of running around in the film. We have added little elements that add an edge and make her look different from others. There is a blend of a sweet girl and a tomboy in her style. We have given her layering with jeans, which make her boyish but the colours and textures keep it soft and fresh. The short hair has helped us express her rebellion even more. Anushka has such beautiful porcelain skin that we decided not to use any make-up. We have given her kajal and this really pretty pair of earrings that she always wears.

What can you tell us about Boman Irani’s look?

He wears shirts and ties with trackpants and mad, red chappals!

And Sushant Singh Rajput?

He is a boy in love. We needed to express that sweetness and innocence. And he needed to look absolutely different from Kai Po Che and Shuddh Desi Romance. He tends to show up on the sets looking the part. He is very hard-working and if the character demands a particular kind of body, he will work towards that. Even off the sets, he becomes that person.

You’ve had a long association with Aamir Khan…

He is a hard taskmaster and now he has enough faith in us that we can crack the character. We can make him wear anything and he’ll be comfortable.

Next up is a film that Calcutta is really interested in, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi

It’s a Dibakar Banerjee film, which means absolute character authenticity and serious amount of research for the period. This is a World War II period. To be able to create the 1940s and to do justice to it… getting correct references was a lot of effort. We went through old photo albums. Some of the people we spoke to were in their 80s. They shared their beautiful memories with us. It was a tough one to crack. We also came to Calcutta.

One word for

Aamir Khan: Oh god.... Love of our lives
Dibakar Banerjee: Toughest
Raju Hirani: Maverick
Anushka Sharma: Gorgeous and a complete mad chick
Sushant Singh Rajput: Chocolate and a thorough actor
Abhay Deol: Crush
Emraan Hashmi: Innocent

Saionee Chakraborty