Research on films: Historic wardrobes

To make jewellery look antique, Rama had it made in silver and got it polished in gold

Designers of Baahubali, Rudhramadevi and Bajirao Mastani talk about the research they did for the films

A period film is always enticing for audiences with its opulent sets and beautiful costumes. However, it’s a Herculean task to get the clothes and jewellery for various characters right. With three period films — Baahubali, Bajirao Mastani and Rudhramadevi — releasing this year, their designers have made sure that the audiences are transported back to the olden age.

Designer Neeta Lulla understood the script and characters of Rudhramadevi to make their costumes believable and acceptable for today’s audience. And director Gunasekhar provided her with all the research material that was needed for the film. Neeta had to make sure Anushka looked like a hero as well as feminine in the film.

“We used a lot of corseting, bandaging and prosthetics in Anushka’s costumes and the colour and cut philosophy to create the feminine look,” Neeta says. Since the film is set in the 16th century, Neeta made sure that no zippers or buttons were seen. Director S.S. Rajamouli took two years to make Baahubali, while his wife Rama took a year to finalise the looks for the characters. Having started work in September 2012, Rama’s main references were Mahabharata, Ramayana and Amar Chitra Katha. “We used 95 per cent of hand-woven fabric and only five per cent of mill fabric since we didn’t want the clothes to look too modern. The entire attire had to compliment the character for every scene,” Rama says.

To make the jewellery look antique, Rama had it made in silver and got it polished in gold. Once the sketches were finalised, Rama had to make costumes of similar designs in different colours. “I have almost three racks filled with just sketches. I have lost count of the costumes we’ve made for the film,” Rama says.
Bajirao Mastani has been Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s long-delayed labour of love, so the research had already been done about how the 17th century era would be recreated. Designer Anju Modi had to travel to the Ajanta-Ellora caves, Paithan, Indore, Banaras and different palaces and museums like Salar Jung in Hyderabad to get the feel of the era.

“It’s a passionate love story with human emotions forming the crux of it. Bajirao is Maharashtrian, Mastani is Muslim and we also had the king of Bundelkhand, so it’s a juxtaposition of many different cultures,” Anju says. Anju used quite a bit of bidri work and the jewellery had to be subtle but classy, so antique gold and silver were used. She has already made over 108 costumes till now and the film still has some 20 more scenes to be shot. But Bhansali has been given inputs for each costume. “For the past nine months, I’ve just been breathing and living costumes with making one outfit every two days,” Anju says.

Since it’s a historic film, Anju had to maintain the authenticity of the characters. For instance, in a darbar scene, each turban had to be tied up in a particular manner pertaining to the post that the person held. For Priyanka’s character of Kashibai, she wears Brahmani saris with a trail, while the janta women wear it without the trail. Even the tika changes depending on the person’s caste and post. “I weaved the nine-yard nauvari saris for Kashibai in a thin chanderi and mal kind of cloth. By the time, the film wraps up, I would’ve been working on it for more than one and a half years,” Anju says.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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