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Updated: June 30, 2010 16:19 IST

Dressing the stars

Nita Sathyendran
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Focus on fashion: Costume designer Sakhi Thomas
Focus on fashion: Costume designer Sakhi Thomas

When it comes to colours and textures, patterns, style and fit, and generally the whole aesthetics of dressing a character to suit the mood on screen, Sakhi Thomas knows what works best.

Already the young city-based costume designer has been making a mark for her sense of style in dressing up the likes of Nayanthara, Manisha Koirala, Prakash Raj and Skanda in Shayamaprasad's upcoming film Elektra, and Mohanlal, Sameera Reddy, Devayani and Sreenivasan in T.K. Rajeevkumar's soon-to-be-released Oru Naal Varum.

Reflecting the mood

“The trick is to find the right colour for every emotion that the character has to portray. Generally each emotion can be likened to a generic colour such as pink for love, white for purity, red for passion and so on. Ideally the colour palette used in the costumes should reflect the general mood of the film,” says Sakhi.

“For instance, Elektra has a rather sombre mood; one that is interspersed with bursts of anger, passion, revenge and so on. So I have used a colour palette that is predominantly black, grey, white and beige interspersed with bursts of red, pista green and the like.

“While in Oru Naal Varum, the mood is more stylised to suit the tastes of an upwardly mobile modern Malayali family. So it has bright colours such as peacock greens, blues, pinks and so on,” adds the 29-year old, who went on to get a degree in fashion from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi after her graduation in commerce from Mahatma Gandhi College.

She worked in the garment industry in Mumbai specialising in knits, ethnic wear and demins for three-and-a-half years before joining Amrita TV as a costumer on their reality shows.

That got her noticed by Shyamaprasad who signed her on as the costumer for Seasons, his movie in the portmanteau film Kerala Cafe. “Seasons was a happy-go-lucky film, where the main character (played by Suraj Venjaramoodu) was a beach bum. My experience with knits came in handy here and he was kitted out in faded T-shirts, shorts and funky hats,” says Sakhi.

As a costume designer, Sakhi emphasises that it is up to her to maintain continuity in the visual appearance of each character throughout the film.

“Slowly but steadily, Mollywood's attitude to costume department, which is still in its nascent stage here, is undergoing a change. Substantial budgets are being allocated and people are waking up to the idea of professional costume designers. Of course it helps that prominent directors like Shyam sir are tuned in to this very fact. It's time we say goodbye to pattu-pavadas, pleated skirts, beribboned pigtails and sparkly gowns!”

Elektra's style

Elektra (Nayanthara) has three different emotional phases in the film. In the depressive and revenge-filled phase where feminine elements had to be understated, she was clothed in dull, ill-fitting check shirts and long full-sleeve kurtas. In the softer phases, which she spends with her father, skirts and tops were used to bring out the child in her. While with her fiancé, she is seen in simple dresses. The tail end has her in a pista-green top and skirt with a white cotton wrap to picturise her as the personification of elegance. In the freak-out phase she uses a lot of red-coloured clothes. A little black dress of chiffon and a red dress in crepe bring out the diva in her.

Sameera's look

She had to look like a modern Malayali techie and so I dressed her in full-sleeve and three-fourths sleeve churidar-kameez in textured raw silk and plain silk combinations. Since the idea was to keep it simple without any kind of surface ornamentation (embroidery or sequins), the colours were in monochrome apart from a single highlight around the neck or wrist. The materials were flowy and mostly crepe and some chiffon. The borders were cotton or silk.

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