Make-up artiste Banu on her experience of working with the superstar in Sivaji - The Boss
If you have watched ‘Sivaji - The Boss’ and loved the way superstar Rajnikanth looked, there is one person who should be given the credit, apart from director Shankar, and that is make-up artiste Banu.
But all those looks for the superstar weren’t achieved by sleight of hand or a magic wand. “We did a lot of trials — make up, hairstyles, wigs (all imported from the U.S.) — before we set the look. After trying 40 hairpieces, we decided on the side parted, back combed look. For the song sequences, we chose various get ups — the Roman look and the MGR, Sivaji and Kamal Hasan spoofs,” says Banu.
For her, working with director Shankar is a pleasure because, “he is sure about what he wants.”
Is make-up just about dabbing grease paint?
“It is about understanding the story and what your director wants, and giving the actor a different look in each film.” She elaborates: “The basic idea is to highlight the assets of the person and downplay the minuses. For example, not everybody comes with a flawless skin so we cover the blemishes. You must also know what lighting your cameraman is planning and it’s easier when you work around it. A rapport with the camera person, hairstylist, costume designer etc. will help achieve good results. Normally, we have a photo session prior to the shoot, in which we try out different looks.”
What was it like to work with the superstar? “As is to be expected, there was a lot of pressure on me because Rajini sir is used to certain people doing his make up.”
Adds Banu: “It was a treat working with the superstar. He patiently sat through all the trials and shoots, never cribbing or throwing a tantrum. Since we had done a test and he was happy with the results, he trusted our judgment.”
More than anything else, what helped pull it off, according to Banu was, “Rajinikanth sir’s attitude. If you are not comfortable with what you are wearing it comes through.”
Talking about the style song “Oru koodai sunlight” where a lot of work was done on the computer by “Indian Artists”, to make the superstar Rajini look fair, she says “We had to present him with the hair style, the whole look, and with the help of technology they changed the skin tone too.”
Banu points out that make up techniques have changed over the years in keeping with technology. “We were so used to Eastman colour (when the make up was heavy), then when daylight took over, camerapersons would tell us to keep the make up minimal. Now with digital cinema, a lot of tests are needed to see what works.”
Trained at the Mariam Zaveri school in Mumbai and under Bob Kelly of New York, Banu who has done the make up for models and stars in scores of ad films was not exactly sold on the idea of working for feature films.