Designs on celluloid

Down south

Designs on celluloid

Roshni Dinakar is a state award-winning costume designer, who has been a part of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada cinema, in a career spanning 30 films. Roshni got into costume design by chance. “After working in the corporate world for some time, out of boredom, I decided to switch my career path. In fact, at that time there was a shoot at Coorg and they needed some help with clothes. I did some work with them and that got me started.”

Costume matters

After that, Roshni did her first movie in Kannada Shubham, and then there was no looking back. “The movie was a great experience for me and it was wonderful working with director Ravi Garani. Then I went on to do Nammana with Sudeep, which was followed by Ramesh Aravind’s Rama Shama Bhama with Kamal Haasan. But the highlight for me was T S Nagabharana’s Kallarali Hoovagi for which I won the State Award for Costume Design.”

Considering the fact that costume designing is not an easy task, Roshni admits that she had to do a lot of research for Kallarali Hoovagi. “I had to do a lot of work and research, and the director was clear about the look he wanted for the film, and that helped immensely. We all knew where we were headed and I had a lot of fun designing the costumes. Also, I usually do not go on sets of most of my movies unless it is necessary. But for Kallarali Hoovagi, I was asked to be on location right from the start.”

With close to 30 films under her belt, Roshni has a large repertoire of work to her credit. However, it was the 2012 film Chaarulatha, simultaneously made in Kannada and Tamil, directed by Pon Kumaran, that had her thinking. “Since the lead characters were Siamese twins, it was challenging to differentiate between the 2 using costumes. I really did not know how to design for the character till the film began.” Roshni’s role in Yashogathe has been pivotal too, and it helped that she had some prior experience in doing a period film. “Yashogathe was a nice film to work on. Despite the film being a horror thriller, I really kept the horror theme aside, as I wanted to keep the focus more on what people in that generation looked like. I was inspired by the paintings of Raja Ravi Verma.”

Variety & more

Roshni feels that her job as a costume designer is challenging and also intellectually fulfilling. “Here, you are designing for a character not an actor, and that’s where your creativity is put to test. And every day I get to work on something different.” She has worked in several regional language films and says that there is really no difference on that front. “When I started in 2002, there were hardly any designers as such, and certainly not as many in the film industry. In fact, in the initial years, many producers would ask me what my job is,” she smiles.

Today, of course, the situation has changed completely, and in her own words, even a small budget film has a designer and stylist on board. Of course, costume designs vary based on the budget of the movie. Having worked in the industry for close to 15 years now, Roshni admits that there is a huge difference in the approach to costume designing today. “Today everyone is involved in the costumes and the look that the character needs. The look becomes a statement, so everyone is aware,” says Roshni who is inspired by Bhanu Athaiya.

Roshni is now all set to make her directorial debut in Malayalam with actor Prithviraj in the lead. “This is a rom-com and we start shooting in June. I am hoping to release it by the end of this year. While direction may have seemed the obvious choice after spending so many years in the industry, I was more inclined towards production and never thought I could direct. However, a friend of mine encouraged me to write and I worked on this story and gave the whole project to someone else to do. But later I decided to wield the microphone.” Post this, she plans to direct a Tamil film, and also has Mungaru Male 2 coming up.

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