When Pokkiri Simon, a movie about Vijay fans, hit the screens, along with its songs and energetic performance, what stole the heart of the audience were the loud, colourful costumes of the lead actors that added to the vibrancy of the theme. Along with the diehard fans of ‘Ilayathalapathy’ Vijay portrayed by Sunny Wayne, Appani Sarath and Jacob Gregory who, imitating their idol, sported check shirts, exposed vests and coloured sunglasses, the skirts and jewellery worn by Prayaga Martin, the heroine, were also much hailed. The man behind the costumes, Rajeev Peethambaran, is glad that his work — his second independent one — has been noticed well.
“Jijo Antony (the director) had given me full freedom to explore and experiment,” he says.
“With the fan characters, there wasn’t much to work on as the costumes were all inspirations from Vijay movies… the shirts, tees and accessories. So much of my focus was on Prayaga’s costumes. Gujarati embroidery, mirror work, Rajasthani skirts, Punjabi phulkari tops, Patiala pants — plain and polka dot brocade — that were missing from the fashion scene for some time now, threadwork and embossed print tops were included,” says Rajeev, who added silver accessories, mirror and bead work jhooti, hand-painted earrings and coloured bangles — his favourite ones brought from Pushkar, Rajasthan.
More than 80 per cent of Prayaga’s costumes were custom-designed, mostly on sustainable materials like mulmul, like the skirts with pom pom hanging. “Sustainable fashion, also called eco fashion, is a part of a growing design philosophy, something which I deeply believe in. Its goal is to create a system which focuses on both environment impact and social responsibility.”
With more directors opening up to experiments and research, costume designers are back in business. “People have started identifying designers who have worked in movies and directors discuss with us what they want to show. The mood of the scene, colour tone and quality are discussed before finalising each costume. Many of them give us ample freedom, which makes the work very gratifying,” says Rajeev, whose debut movie as a costume designer was Popcorn directed by Aneesh Upasana, a close friend.
Rajeev always makes sure to leave behind his signature in each of his works. Next, he wants to work on a challenging movie — like the fantasy world costumes in Rajeev Anchal’s Guru or the cool play of colours in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.
Like Pokkiri Simon, Rajeev too is a diehard fan — of Michele Clapton, the costume designer of Game of Thrones, his favourite TV series. “The costumes are different in each season of GoT. The colour tone and detailing are so impressive. It’s a huge dream of mine to work with him,” he concludes.