Bombay Showcase

Designed characters

Talking to Niharika Bhasin Khan is as refreshing as a mint mocktail with a peppery hint. Khan, who began her career in Hindi films as a costume designer with Khoya Khoya Chand is now all set to showcase her new work in the eagerly-awaited Fan .

Khan has attempted to bring alive the two versions of Shah Rukh Khan: Gaurav and Aryan. She is known for her works as varied as Rocket Singh and Band Baaja Baarat . From the subtle to loud, she loves to play with all the hues as long as the final colour scheme defines the character. Be it Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture (for which she won the National Award) or Nimrat Kaur in The Lunchbox , Khan is a stickler for the script when it comes to styling her characters.

She talks about her work and what it takes for the characters to come to life through costumes.

Excerpts from an interview:

How did you capture the characters' sensibilities through costumes?

I do a lot of recces to build up the nuances of my characters. I search for fabrics that can be associated with the sensibilities and background sketch of the personality. Spending time sitting at a park, observing people, kids and studying their mannerisms also helps. Three things form the backbone of a character – the securities and insecurities of an actor, vision of the director and the designer’s understanding of the actor’s body type. Therefore, Gaurav’s clothes are a result of my experience and observation coupled with director, Maneesh Sharma’s memories of Delhi. Aryan is closer to Shah Rukh Khan, the superstar. So I researched his old films and added a celebrity character to his very skin. It is a synergy that brings out the characters.

How did you explore Old Delhi and use it in your work?

Maneesh respects me as a technical person and it was very liberating to have worked with him again after Band Baaja Baraat . He and I brainstormed a lot on how to pick up the peculiarities of the city. I am myself not a fan or follower of anyone or anyone’s culture. So to get a deeper understanding of the fan culture I befriended Shah Rukh’s fans and interacted with them. Gradually, things were put in perspective, forming the characters’ frame.

The film has been shot in many places including Dubrovnik, London, Mumbai and Delhi. Did they play a role in defining the wardrobe of the characters?

Oh yes, definitely. When a person travels along different places, the peculiarity of weather of a particular place decides the wardrobe. It is a personality trait that people in general carry. A person mostly dresses up according to the place.

How do colours define characters?

I am very particular about colours. Gaurav’s clothes have every single colour in the book whereas Aryan’s outfits are subdued and sophisticated. Superstars already have the charm and aura around them and they do not have to vie for attention. They are better pictured black and white or in a monochromatic scheme of colours. So, colours do not overshadow Aryan’s personality. In a film like Band Baaja Baraat it was all about Indian clothes, and they being inherently so vibrant expanded my horizon.

How far did you take cinematic liberty?

Very far. The job of a designer is to convey a point of view. It is time to make people understand and accept the character, his background and the way he behaves. For me it is all part of a fantasy. For instance, when I worked in Rocket Singh-Salesman of the Year , I had to convince salespersons of their dressing style. The job is to convince the target audience.

Having worked on such varied films, how do you play a different ballgame every time?

It is a question of research and an understanding to putting it together. One of my key skills is observation. I try to pick up things that interest me and translate it according to the script. At times it is so funny because I try not to be stereotypical, but then some films demand me to be one. It’s a juxtaposition that I play with.

Do you consider yourself a couturier or a stylist?

Being a couturier is about fashion design and creating style or seasons of retail. Bollywood is the trend today. It happens to be the season. I am not studying seasons of retail. It’s all about the characters. I am a stylist who builds up subtleties, nuances, mannerisms and behaviour of a person through my work. I'm creating characters, not seasons of style.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 1:02:07 PM |

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