When you enter Sushmita Konidela’s home the first thing you notice is the life-size photo frame of Chiranjeevi in a cowboy hat (a still from his yesteryear film, Kodama Simham). “Yes, that’s my favourite photo and it is hand painted; my friend gifted it to me,” replies Sushmita as she slowly warms up for a chat.
Having styled for her father (Chiranjeevi) in a handful of films, Sushmita was once again given the task of designing the costumes for Sye Raa. “Initially, I thought I needn’t stretch myself. But after director Surender Reddy narrated the story of the unsung hero Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy on whom the film is based, I realised that I have my task cut out. It took a fortnight for me to understand the bravery and the aura that surrounded Narasimha Reddy.”
Since Sye Raa is a period drama set in 1800, Sushmita had to research a lot to understand how costumes were in that era. “Since there was very little information available about Narasimha Reddy, I had to revisit my college library and look up costume history books to understand how people dressed back then. I did extensive research and gathered information about peoples’ lifestyle, fashion sense, etc., during that era,” explains Sushmita, adding that the fabric was brought from places like Charminar, Mangalagiri, etc.
While Sushmita cherished the challenge of styling her father Chiranjeevi, her fangirl moment came when she met Amitabh Bachchan, who plays Gosayi Venkanna in the film.
“When I first met him, I was flabbergasted. I felt like ‘wow’. It was Mr Bachchan who broke the ice. Then my father asked me to hand over the clothes I brought, after which we spoke about Mr Bachchan’s costumes,” says Sushmita describing that working with Bachchan was very inspiring.
Having worked with Chiru and Bachchan closely, we ask her what makes them superstars, and she replies, “Both of them are true to themselves and stick to principles they believe in, come what may,” adding, “I imbibed the ‘art of dedication’ from my father, and I learnt to ‘give my best shot’ in whatever endeavours I take up from Bachchan sir.”
Sushmita reveals that she has used 12-ft sarees throughout the film, and silk fabric to get the drape. “It was very difficult to carry the saree, so I first wore it and later asked actresses Tamannaah and Nayanatara to sport them, she recalls.
A mother of two, Sushmita, who shuttles between Chennai (where her family stays) and Hyderabad for work, knew that giving two years for the film would be taxing physically and mentally.
“But thanks to my husband, he ensured that our kids and I relocate to Hyderabad while he does the travelling. He realised how much I would be missing the kids and took the initiative. This made me focus more on my work and thrive on excellence,” she explains, stating that understanding each other is the key to keep the relationship alive in a marriage.
“I like travelling a lot — my husband and I indulge in a lot of travelling. We have gotten to know each other better,” she reveals, adding, “That’s what my father taught me. He always tells me to stay connected with everyone and make it a point to meet people.”...