In conversation with Baahubali's cast and crew

Dressing up Devasena

Anushka Shetty, Prashanti Tipirneni and Shobu Yarlagadda on the sets  

During the pre-release function of Baahubali – The Conclusion, Rama Rajamouli, Prashanti Tipirneni and a few others made a striking style statement in classy hand-woven saris with a ‘bahubali’ custom border. Custom made is the key here. Throughout the project, Anushka Shetty and Ramya Krishna wore made-to-order hand-woven saris of 11 to 13 yards.

Prashanti Tipirneni and Rama Rajamouli shared the task of dressing up the Baahubali cast. There were no watertight compartments, though broadly speaking, Prashanti handled the costumes and styling for the kingdom from which Tamanaah and Anushka hail from and Rama looked into the nitty gritties of those from Mahishmati. There were many instances when Prashanti and Rama chipped in to help with each other’s work.

Friends turned colleagues

Talking to us at her elegantly done up office space that soaks in natural light, Prashanti is a picture of calm. Now that the gruelling work schedule is over, she’s enjoying spending time with her daughter. She and Rama are close friends and in the beginning, when she heard that Rama and Rajamouli were working on a new project, she casually told them that she’d be willing to help. “Since Rama garu is a friend, I said I’d be ready to help. Then they roped me in and we all heard the narration. It sunk in. I knew why they needed so many people,” laughs Prashanti.

Baahubali grew larger than what all of them had envisioned. “The production department led by Sabu Cyril, the concept artists, the costume department and everyone was in sync to arrive at colour tones and the look of the characters,” says Prashanti.

In the first part, we saw Anushka (Devasena) draped in one dirt-laden, torn sari. In the conclusion, she’s the link between the generations. “We see her through different stages of womanhood and her styling is in concurrence with those phases and the emotional upheavals of her character,” says Prashanti.

Baahubali is set in a mythical space, not restricted by a time period. This gave Prashanti and Rama enough leeway to design the looks. “We did away with sequins, embroidery and stones. The grandeur comes from the lustre of the weaves,” says Prashanti.

Rama Rajamouli and Prashanti Tipirneni

Rama Rajamouli and Prashanti Tipirneni  

Amar Chitra Katha was one of the reference points. Tamanaah’s ethereal look in the Dheevara song came from a flowy, feather light tabby silk lehenga. “Almost 25 metres of cloth was used for a single lehenga. We created multiple pieces since the outfit would get dirty easily,” says Prashanti.

For Anushka, Prashanti chose a variety of Uppada silk and got saris of 11 to 13 yards woven.

Natural colours were used. “We didn’t want to use a blend of colours since that came into vogue centuries later. We relied on raw colours from vegetable dyes, colours like hibiscus reds, deep pinks from roses, turmeric yellows and emerald greens,” she explains.

A bit of research went into studying different draping styles from the past. Prashanti isn’t a trained designer. “But I’ve always had the ability to visualise a character, the location and the entire film when a story is narrated,” she states.

Psychology to design

Prashanti entered films by chance. She’s armed with an education in psychology and a specialisation in child psychology. She had spent a few years in the US and on returning, was itching to work. Producer Shobu Yarlagadda was part of her friends’ circle. “During a conversation he and his wife asked me to give designing a shot since they liked the way I styled things. They were launching Vedam,” recalls Prashanti.

It was a learning curve as she worked on Vedam, Golconda High School and later, projects like Size Zero and Om Namo Venkatesaya. She laughs talking about the initial frictions with director Krish during Vedam, “I’d feel bad that to select one costume, we had to be ready with 10 or 20. And I would argue with Krish if he wanted me to do something last minute.”

She also reflects on her transformation from someone who’d hesitate to speak up to where she stands today, with the ability to handle large-scale work. “Baahubali has been a huge learning,” she says. Prashanti played a key role in facilitating the jewellery worn by all the actors. Antiques came from Amrapali and the brand dedicated designers to create several custom-made pieces for Devasena. The emphasis was on plain gold with textures.

After Baahubali, she’s looking forward to a holiday before taking up new projects.

In the beginning: The earliest use of natural dyes dates back to 2600 BC in China. Researchers have reported that alizarin, the pigment from madder, was said to be used in Egyptian fabrics found in the tomb of Tutankhamen.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 12:44:59 AM |

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