Mahanati: Design journey through decades, on celluloid

Designers Gaurang Shah and Archana Rao are overwhelmed with ‘Mahanati’ winning the National Film Award for Best Costume Design

Updated - August 10, 2019 03:01 pm IST

Published - August 10, 2019 03:00 pm IST

Keerthy Suresh and Samantha Akkineni in a poster design of Mahanati, featuring Savitri

Keerthy Suresh and Samantha Akkineni in a poster design of Mahanati, featuring Savitri

“I feel ecstatic,” says fashion designer Gaurang Shah, reacting to Mahanati bagging the National Award for Best Costume Design. Gaurang Shah, designer Archana Rao and stylist Indrakshi Pattanaik planned the costumes for the Savitri biopic, spanning four decades, from the 1940s to 1980s.

Gaurang designed the handloom saris worn by Keerthy Suresh and says the win is a tribute to handlooms and the art of jamdani. Thanking the National Award jury for the recognition, producers Swapna Dutt and Priyanka Dutt, and director Nag Ashwin for giving him the opportunity, Gaurang states that the project was creatively stimulating and helped him draw from his love for handlooms and the sari. “It was an amazing journey to revive yesteryear textiles and mirror the moods of Savitri. It took us over one and a half years to study the weaves and textures and perfect the look, drape and fall,” he says, adding that he and his team had to keep in mind the sensibilities of Savitri while choosing the fabric and textures.

Gaurang Shah

Gaurang Shah

The designer is open to working for films that showcase handloom saris, “I am ready to immerse myself in any project that embraces handlooms and help showcase Indian jamdani,” he adds. Gaurang feels that films like Mahanati help the cause of handlooms. “From Mangalagiri to Kota cottons and silks, heavy brocades, organzas, handwoven silks, satins and chiffons... the canvas the movie offered is huge,” he asserts.

Archana Rao

Archana Rao

Archana Rao who designed the costumes for Samantha, Vijay Deverakonda, Dulquer Salmaan and a host of actors in the film is now busy with her new collection to be unveiled at the forthcoming Lakme Fashion Week. The award is a shot in the arm for the designer who gushes, “I am so proud to be part of Mahanati . Winning this award means that all the hours we put into research and developing the characters bit by bit is recognised and appreciated. It is absolutely gratifying,” she says.

Indrakshi Pattanaik

Indrakshi Pattanaik

Mahanati was her first brush with cinema and she recalls, “I got down to it like I would with any fashion collection of mine. We made intensive mood boards, developed swatches and collected old photographs to get inspired for the costumes. After two months we started putting the looks together. I remember with just our first look test with Dulquer Salmaan, we knew we were on to something big.”

A look book detailing the style statement inspired by Gemini Ganesan, for Dulquer Salmaan

A look book detailing the style statement inspired by Gemini Ganesan, for Dulquer Salmaan

Archana then designed costumes for Jersey , the Nani-Shraddha Srinath starrer directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri. She’s game to design for films that challenge her and says, “As an avid film lover, there is nothing more satisfying than watching your vision come to life on screen.”

Mahanati also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for 2018.

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