History inspires this celeb costume designer

Having struggled to pursue a career in designing , Chandrakant Sonawane made his mark with Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies.
Last Updated 17 April 2019, 15:08 IST

Costume designer Chandrakant Sonawane has big names like ‘Bajirao Mastani’, ‘Padmaavat’, ‘Bhoomi’ and most recently ‘PM Narendra Modi’ to his credit.

From changing nine schools because his parents could not afford to pay the fees to dressing the A-listers in Bollywood, he has had a dream journey. Rajitha Menon learns some tricks of the trade from him.

What gave you the conviction to follow fashion designing against all odds?

At an impressionable age, I read an article about fashion designing which left an indelible mark on me. As the love for this art form came very naturally to me, I was able to nurture it amidst all the hardships that came along.

Which was the most challenging movie you have done so far?

Ram Leela. I had worked in 4-5 films before that but Ram Leela pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I had to join the project within a span of 10 days and at that time I didn’t know much about Rajasthan or it’s culture. I had to work closely with the director and follow his vision of the culture of the place where the film was based, the characters, their body language, the mood of the script and so on. The six months were very difficult for me as I grappled to learn everything that I could, but I was able to go from assisting in the film to working as an independent background designer for the same.

How do you go about designing costumes for period movies? What is the research you do?

I have always been in love with history as a kid; plays on historical characters in school used to really captivate me. Research involves learning about the lifestyle of the people at that time, their activities, the culture, the fabrics they used to wear, the colours and so on. I also visit museums to take inspiration from artefacts restored from that era for my designing process. Researching through books and googling is also something that I do for my films. I make sure that even if I am taking cinematic liberty, it is it imbued in authenticity.

Some tips or tricks you follow?

As a costume director, I have to show presentations to the director about costume options for the film. There are many others who come to present for the same film. If I have a hint of what the film is about, I prepare 4-5 options of what I feel about the script or the director’s vision. I’ve always followed this process and it has worked for me every single time.

One principle you always follow while designing costumes...

To be in tune with the vision of the film’s director.

(Published 17 April 2019, 13:41 IST)

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