She loves challenges

She loves challenges

Raid has been an amazing movie to work on as the shooting was done primarily in Lucknow, my hometown," says Ameira Punvani, one of the most sought-after costume stylists in the Hindi film industry. Petite Punvani has yet again scored an ace with heroine Ileana D Cruz's look in the Ajay Devgn-starrer Raid that unspools in a fortnight.

"I came on board on August 29 when Mumbai was flooded. There I was, a confirmed workaholic, carting my laptop zealously on my head as it had important references for Ileana's costumes for Raid. I waded for two hours through the water to reach home, after abandoning my car, as I had a meeting with the director, Raj Kumar Gupta, to finalise the project. Of course, I had ignored warnings to stay at home in view of the imminent downpour," she recalls.

That's signature Ameira, wasting no time. She barely had any time in between projects to lap up the praise that has been flowing her way in the wake of the widely appreciated Rustom, starring Akshay Kumar, Ileana D'Cruz and Esha Gupta, where her styling for the vintage looks for Ileana and Esha, and Akshay's spiffy persona as a naval officer, earned her nominations for the 'Best Costume Designer' at both Stardust and Star Screen awards. "My phone was clogged with congratulatory messages, and as usual, I was clueless. Then I realised that the applause was coming in for my work in the recently released Inside Edge, the first original Indian web series on Amazon Prime," she shares modestly. So, Inside Edge won the award for the 'Best Web series' as well, and Ameira's work in the short film Chhuri (starring Tisca Chopra, Anurag Kashyap and Surveen Chawla) has won over three million views too.

"Ileana's role is that of the spunky, witty, educated wife who shares an equal footing with her husband. So, I devised a palette with an appealing mix: from bright parrot greens to peach and whites to a yellow churidar kameez with Rampuri applique work. It is a clear reflection of how I remember the 80s in Lucknow, while growing up. An immaculate white chikan suit teamed with silver kurta button, large silver earrings and a bright bandhani dupatta was so 'in'. Also, in vogue was wearing the kameez, dupatta and salwar or churidar in the same colour, with no contrasting colours," she says. Ameira delved into Rekha's looks as well to put together Ileana's outfits. "I have always admired Rekha for packing in the oomph through no skin show."

Her affair with Bollywood began with the Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee-starrer, Bunty Aur Babli, in 2004, produced by Yashraj films. The desi palette she brought in with short, collared form-fitting kurtis spawned fashion trends galore. Subsequently, iconic film-maker Mani Ratnam signed her on for his film, Guru, where she worked with Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Mallika Sherawat. Ameira's meticulous research and her keen eye for detail won her a prized nomination for Guru, at the Filmfare Awards for 'Best Costume Designer'. Today, her repertoire includes an eclectic mix of movies, including Badmash Company, Benares, Zinda, Teen Patti... She is busier than the proverbial bee, working with leading stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Farah Khan, Farhan Akhtar, and moonlighting as a personal stylist for celebrities as well.

With a multitude of ad-films (Head and Shoulders, Jio, KFC, Milky Bar...) in her portfolio, Ameira has kicked off 2018 with one of the biggest commercials in the ad world, for Indian Oil. What's next? "Two exciting movies," she divulges with a smile. And that's all she is willing to reveal. "I am the first person to come on board for a project and the last one to get off, as I usually end up styling the stars for the movie promotional gigs too."

Call it an incurable hangover, and Punvani is loving every second of it. So are we.

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