EXCLUSIVE: I put in 100% as Kangana had trust in me: Neeta Lulla on working with Ranaut on Thalaivi and more
One of the biggest films of the year is undoubtedly ‘s Thalaivi. The film, based on the late Jayalalithaa’s life, has already set expectations high with the trailer which was released on Ranaut’s birthday. While watching the film, one can help but acknowledge the eerie resemblance between Ranaut and the former CM of Tamil Nadu. The actress put on 20 kgs of weight to play the part but that’s not all – her costumes, makeup, hair and everything else is in place for the film.In conversation with Neeta Lulla, the lady behind the costumes for the magnum opus film, she talked about some of the challenges, working with Kangana for the second time after Manikarnikaa and more.
You have worked with costumes on grand films like Jodhaa Akbar, Devdas and Manikarnika previously. How different was working on Thalaivi compared to these?Working on Thalaivi was constant research every day for every aspect of the film, be it Jayalalithaa’s life or songs. In this film, we had to work towards depicting every aspect perfectly with pictorial representations available. This film has been very different and pretty challenging as well.
What made you want to be part of this period film?Kangana wanted me to be there as I had worked with her on Manikarnika. We work very well on synergy in filming. I guess it’s a comfort level that we share as well because of which I was on the film.
This is your second time working with Kangana Ranaut. How would you describe your experience with working with her?It’s been an absolute pleasure! Kangana is a person who puts her 100 percent best in all her characters. She leaves it to her technicians who she trusts to be able to create her characterisation which helps her play her part the best. It is the trust factor that she had in me that helped me deliver the characterisation gave me a comfort level. I have put in 100 percent because she had trust in me.
What’s the kind of research that went into creating the costumes for Kangana to look exactly like Jayalalithaa?A film of this magnitude had research daily. In fact when we worked on the recreational songs, I would have seen them at least 16 times or more! And every time we saw it a new aspect of detailing came to the forefront. For me, it was ongoing research through the making of the film. It had 5 different facets – where Kangana played Jayalalithaa at 16, then Jayalalithaa as an aspiring actor followed by an actor, then superstar, followed by her aspiration to be a politician and then her political career. It took a lot to make her inner suit especially for the last portion of the film.
While Kangana had to put on 20 kgs, she still wasn’t as heavy as Jayalalithaa. How did the costumes you created come into play here?Kangana put on 20 kgs for the film but apart from that, we also made an inner structure to enable her to be as close to the body type of Jayalalithaa as we could.
What were some of the challenges you faced while working on this film? How did you manage to pull through?Trying to recreate certain songs to the closest possible look and trying to recreate the structure of Jayalalithaa in her years as a Minister was quite challenging. Also, the fact that we had to create 5 different aspects of her life and the kind of look we had to do needed sarees that were as close as possible to the 60s, 70s, 80s and still needed to look glamorous.
Tell us about a time when you thought you were edging towards messing up due to unforeseen circumstances but managed to pull through, during this film?By the grace of God, there have been no such instances. But when we were doing the first muhurat shot, prosthetics took forever because it was something that needed its time. We had to take the shot at 5.15 and had only 3 minutes to get her into her suit and drape the saree! Time as a factor could create certain challenges but when you’re filming you need to have a presence of mind and pre organise to meet deadlines.
What’s the most underplayed part about the creative process that is costume designing?It is actually having to create and structure aspects of costumes on set. See the look is correct and is detailed and glamorous at the same time. I think when you’re designing for costumes you’re not a costume designer. I don’t call myself a costume designer. I call myself a costume technician because technicalities play an important part in characterisation, which is often an underplayed integral part of the creative process.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects?I’m currently working on a Telugu film – Shaakuntalam.
Are you excited to watch Kangana in Thalaivi? Do you like her costumes in the trailer? Comment below and let us know.
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