EXCLUSIVE: Deepika's attire will have many Sri Lankan influences - Rimple & Harpreet Narula on designing costumes for Padmavati
As we kick start the New Year, there is an exciting news for couturiers Rimple & Harpreet Narula - they're making their big Bollywood debut with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati.
The designer duo has been styling B-town's leading ladies like Anushka Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha, Kangana Ranaut, Jacqueline Fernandez and many more. But, this is the very first time they are foraying into costume designing for the leading cast of a Bollywood film.
Here is what the duo have to say about designing costumes for SLB's most awaited magnum opus - Padmavati!
What is it like working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali?
Working with Mr. Bhansali is an extremely inspirational experience for us as designers. He is a master of his craft, a perfectionist with a great eye for detail as we all know. Mr. Bhansali is a person whose vision grows every day, it is fascinating how the characters he envisions become real people who we interact with everyday on the sets.
From the very first meeting, Mr. Bhansali and his team along with the lead cast, Deepika, Ranveer and Shahid have been very warm to us. Being totally new to the ways of Bollywood, Mr. Bhansali has guided us at every step of the process, be it inputs on history or actual design elements that work on screen. The entire experience has been surreal and deeply enriching as designers.
Keeping that in mind that there is not much documentation of actual costumes of that era, we have done intensive research on the period by way of going through old travelers' accounts and manuscripts as well as regular visits to the Calico and Jaipur museums to get the touch-feel-look right. Most of the actual samples of antique textiles and costumes from that period are dispersed all over the world in various museums and archives. So, our love for travel and museums also came in handy when we had to collate all the information required during the research process. Even then, actual living samples of such textiles and costumes are far and few in between, so we had to refer to a lot of miniature paintings, murals and frescoes to get the nuances of the styling as close to how they used to be.
Known for his larger than life productions and a keen eye for details, are there any standout pieces in this one?
Interestingly, we asked Mr. Bhansali during the initial script readings which outfits would he consider the most important and iconic and all he said to us was that between the three main characters we would need to come up with over a hundred plus looks! Moreover, each look has to be equally important as it would define that particular moment of the storyline, so we had to give our best to each one.
For his dream project, SLB wanted utmost authenticity in the looks of the leading cast. What were your visions for the costumes in the film?
Mr. Bhansali is a great story teller. During the initial stages of the project, he and his team took us through the script in order to understand the flow of the narrative and nuances of each character as the garments have to enhance the same. He made us understand that his characters and their entangled destinies are the main heroes and the garments should not be mere beautiful clothes that they don but should, in fact, bring out inherent attributes of their natures as well as the emotional journeys they undergo through the course of the storyline.
The clothes have to imbibe all that and more so as to set the main protagonists apart in the eyes of the audience. The clothes have to be in sync with the characters' moods as well as the overall flow of the narrative, bringing out underlying emotions. So the color palette, fabrics, surface ornamentation all had to be worked out accordingly.
Such costumes for period films tend to be rather heavy in terms of both weight and work. What was the heaviest or the most difficult costume that was designed for this one?
Since it is a period piece, we had to be extra careful when it comes to maintaining the authenticity of the costumes using only organic fabrics such as cotton and muls as well as surface ornamentation techniques that were prevalent in the period. Given that we are dealing with traditional Indian attire from the 12th century, a lot of the looks have layers to them so they tend to be heavy weight wise, but we have tried to use mostly organic lightweight fabrics to minimize the overall weight.
Where were the costumes made?
Given that so many contrasting cultures come together and coalesce during the course of the narrative – the Sinhalese princess who becomes a Rajput Queen, the Rajput prince who becomes a warrior king, the Turkish/Afghan invader who goes on to become the Sultan of Delhi, each characters’ clothes reflect both their personalities as well as their cultural background. Keeping that in mind, we have sourced old textiles from all over the subcontinent that is being used alongside new organic ones as well as commissioned embroidery karigars and block print artists from Kolkatta to Jaipur to create the artworks for the ensembles. The final execution of the looks, however, happens at our atelier in New Delhi.
Tell us about the textiles and crafts used in the costumes, since they were drawn out of specific periods and provinces?
As there were no man-made fibers at that time nor was sericulture prevalent in the sub-continent, we have avoided using the silk or other Chinese substitutes and only used organic cotton and muls along with traditional decorative arts and techniques such as block printing and "wari ka kaam" that were prevalent then.
Deepika is playing the princess most known for her beauty in Indian history! How will her clothes accentuate that?
Not only one of the most talented actors of her generation, from a fashion point of view Deepika is one of the best muse a designer can dress nowadays. You would find many Sri Lankan influences in Padmavati's attire as she is a Sinhalese princess who becomes the Queen of Chittor.
Any more Bollywood projects for you in the pipeline?
As of now, we are totally consumed with the execution of this project as the looks are extremely detailed and research oriented. As designers, we are always on the look out for a fresh perspective, new stimuli that fuel the creative process so perhaps once the work on the movie concludes we will explore other such avenues as they come along.
Padmavati will release on November 17, 2017.