From playing dress-up as a child to a flourishing career as Costume Designer, Payal Saluja has come a long way. The National Award winner tells POOL more about what it takes to create an unforgettable, and believable, look for a film’s characters.
“For me the biggest challenge is to break the persona of an actor, – she admits, – to make him the live character from the script through the costumes.”
In most of the films Payal has done for the Indian film industry, she designed the overall look of each character, including hair, makeup, clothing, accessories, and footwear. The pre-production process usually spans three to five months. This includes creating the look on paper, actual production of the costumes and accessories, and the trials and fittings with actors. Most of the outfits are ready before the commencement of the shoot:
“Since I ensure good groundwork in terms of thorough research, understanding the director’s perspective, and accurate measurements, most of the time we are able to manage the final product in a single go; however, at times multiple trials may also be required.”
Last year Payal received the National Award for costume design of Nanak Shah Fakir:
“Nanak Shah Fakir came as an interesting challenge for me. The day I said yes to this project, the first thing I did was place an order for more than 20 books related to the subject. Very little well documented information is available on this period so I added visual referencing from paintings and sculptures.
At one point during the research I felt more like a historian than a costume designer, but I loved every bit of it. My team and I made more than 3,000 costumes for this film. We shot over ten months all across India. My costume entourage, in its core team, included three costume assistants, seven dress-men, a trained turban draper, tailor, and launderer. More than 10 different tailoring masters with their teams helped me create the authentic looking clothing.”
She shares her experience of working with Bollywood actors:
“Right at the start of my career I worked with Irfan Khan in Maqbool. The way he transforms himself into the character in the film is simply awesome. I have done my most experimental looks for Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt in Udta Punjab. Both gave me a free hand in creativity, and did complete justice carrying off the looks on screen. Vidya Balan with her raw sex appeal in Ishqiya, Madhuri Dixit with her grace in Dedh Ishqiya, and Kareena Kapoor with her charm in Udta Punjab have all added another dimension to the costumes in the respective films. I cherish working with senior actors like Shabana Azmi, Naseerudin Shah and Pankaj Kapoor – one can always learn so much from their vast experience.”
“I love to travel, read, research, observe people, work with a team, and yet be my own boss – my work gives me all of this. – Payal says. “When you love your work and it provides you the opportunities to do what you enjoy doing, and earn you your bread – nothing can beat that!”
Her advice to aspirants is to dream big, and work hard to make the dream a reality.
Read this story in POOL 73.
Tags: and believable, From playing dress-up as a child to a flourishing career as Costume Designer, look for a film’s characters., Payal Saluja has come a long way. The National Award winner tells POOL more about what it takes to create an unforgettable