The industry has taken its fascination for glamour a step ahead. Fashion designers are not enough; Hindi films now rely on stylists for stars to get a new image. Be it Arjun Rampal's bohemian mane in the Farhan Akhtar production Rock On, Kangana Ranaut’s sleek gowns in Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion or Bipasha Basu’s minis in Abbas Mustan’s Race—in the forthcoming months, stylists like Adajania, Narendra Kumar and Niharika Khan will make us sit up and take notice.
“Our job is to design the entire look of the actors depending upon the characters they are portraying in the movie. The idea is to offer a completely new images,” says Adajania, who has also given Akshaye Khanna a brand new hairstyle in Race.
Bollywood has always influenced fashion in India. And that has made it easier for many designers switch to film styling. “It feels magical to see your creations on the big screen,” says Niharika Khan, costume designer for forthcoming films like Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On and Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya.
Unlike fashion designers of yore, the stylists’ work is not just restricted to costumes. For instance, in Rock On, Khan will make leading lady Prachi Desai look more contemporary. The job is certainly more involving. “We work in tandem with art directors. We have to know what the frame looks like,” adds Khan.
Rajeev Chudasama of Marching Ants has redefined the concept of styling. The man behind Amitabh Bachchan’s ghastly image as Babban in Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag, Chudasama goes much beyond designing the look of a character. “I also create the immediate milieu of the characters. For instance, I also designed Babban’s den in Aag,” says Chudasama, who will be working next for Vikram Chopra’s Seasons Greetings. An erstwhile film publicist, he forayed to the profession with Musafir, where he made Anil Kapoor sport a striking short and rough hair do.
The profession is surely alluring. And fame, glamour and being friends with the stars are the brighter part. On the flipside, there are erratic shooting schedules and the need to be on the grind 24/7. “It requires in-depth research to create the ideal look for characters,” says Narendra Kumar, who is currently working on Fashion. “I am closely interacting with real people from the fashion industry.” Before Dhoom 2, the film that brought Adajania a lot of notice as a stylist, she frequently stopped and photographed people on the streets of New York. “I drew from the street fashion of New York, especially for Aishwarya’s (Rai) character. One has to be very observant and keenly follow fashion trends,” she says.