In an exclusive chat with Pandolin costume designer Rick Roy talks about the efforts he put in to create Emraan Hashmi and Humaima Malick’s look in the masala movie Raja Natwarlal.

Rick Roy

Costume Designer, Rick Roy

How did you get on board to design for Raja Natwarlal?

I have worked with Kunal (Deshmukh) for Jannat 2. Apart from being a good director, he is an awesome person. We shared an amazing work equation on Jannat 2. So when he started working on Raja Natwarlal even before it was finalised, I told him I want to do the film and he said, ‘I was anyways going to ask you to do it’. (Smiles)

Raja Natwarlal is your second film with director Kunal Deshmukh and fourth film with Emraan Hashmi. What kind of association do you share with them?

Kunal Deshmukh and Emraan Hashmi are a dream team to work with. Both have similar temperaments – they are extremely non-fussy and cooperative. The freedom that I get on Kunal’s film to create is just amazing. He has great faith and respect for his technical crew, not just towards me, but he has the same attitude towards all other crew members too.

Emmi is extremely professional to work with. Thankfully our temperament towards work matches perfectly. Touchwood, it’s my fourth film with him in three years and I have never had a day when he had any issue with anything. He totally believes that he is playing a character in a film and not himself, so whatever clothes you give him he will wear it as long as it fits the character brief. No matter what his personal choice is. That’s an amazing quality in him as an actor and I have immense respect for that.

What was the director’s brief regarding the costumes for the movie?

Kunal is one of those directors who doesn’t give a costume brief. He tells you the story of the film, explains the scenes, characters in the film, their back stories and journey in the script.  On the basis of that information asks you to create the looks for the characters. That’s what he exactly did for Raja Natwarlal too.

Can you elaborate the look you created for the main star cast – Emraan Hashmi and Humaima Malick?

The character of Raja Natwarlal was supposed to be loud who wants to be noticeable. He is a show-off so I chose a style that’s flashy, quirky and stands out. I chose prints that have a certain amount of flash to make him noticeable in the crowd. Whereas Humaima’s character was the opposite of Raja. Her character is someone who is effortlessly pretty, bright and bohemian. I have used a lot of flowing chiffon skirts for her romantic scenes. Her look in the bar where she is works is a contrast. For those scenes I made her look extremely glamourous and desirable. It was fun putting together so many contrasting looks for the characters.

What process do you follow when putting together costumes for project?

The process of creating costume for each movie is different. I follow different approaches depending on the director and what I am expected to do. For example, Kunal is someone who asks you to create whatever the characters should look like as per the designer’s understanding. So we do a personality board per character, a mood board, a colour board and style board. Then I come up with references, elements and then designs for each and every scene. Whereas someone like Sudhir Mishra and Rajkumar Gupta has more or less a vague outline idea of what their characters should look like. So they do follow the same process of creating character boards, mood boards and detail boards but they have a specific look in mind. So I try and create designs that match their visualisations.  Once their vision and my ideas come together I go about creating looks for each character in each scene. Meanwhile, someone like Sajid Khan knows exactly what he wants in terms of style, cuts and is extremely specific about it. So the process of creating boards and references is eliminated. I directly work on the exact specific brief of the outfit that has been given to me; and maybe add a few design elements once approved by the director.

Where did you source clothes and fabrics to create costumes for the film?

The clothes in the film are specifically designed and created. I wanted satin and silk fabrics with very specific vintage paisley prints in specific colour combinations for Emraan’s character. I sourced it from all over Bombay (Mumbai) and bought some stuff from flea markets in Goa. We also found some dresses with the specific prints I had in mind, so I picked it up and cut it out and made shirts. Two of Emraan’s shirts are made out of my old scarves that I bought from Italy years ago.

What was the biggest challenge in designing costumes for RN?

Given the quirky dressing style of the protagonist (Raja Natwarlal), the biggest challenge was to be able to get the right balance the look that I wanted to create and making sure it goes with the character. I didn’t want to get over excited and create stuff that looks great but doesn’t go with the character at all. I wanted it to be an awesome look, which Emraan’s fans will like, and project him as the character he is playing in the movie.

You have designed clothes for stars for their movies, ads and events. How different is each experience and what do you enjoy the most?

I love doing clothes for movies. It excites me. Designing for advertisements pays good money so one does it, but there isn’t too much creativity involved, unless and until it’s an elaborate and outstanding design. I do not like dressing actors for events. It’s the most boring thing for me to do. I do create clothes for a few of my stylist friends when they need an exclusive designer creation for specific star celebrities for red carpet events. But I don’t like getting stuff from other designers and putting looks together for events.

Most of your films like Joker, Housefull 2 and Ghanchakkar have a certain element of madness in it. Do you consciously look for such projects?

I like doing quirky stuff. I like creating clothes that have an edge. I believe you can always create clothes being strictly in the parameters of the character brief that’s given to you and, yet, make the outfits interesting. Cinema is a visual medium. I believe the clothes in a film should add visual interest to the characters. Every character should have a style. It doesn’t have to be loud or stand out, but it must have a certain style even if it’s subtle. If you see in real-life also everyone has a specific style, no matter what and how subtle it is. Everyone is individualistic in their choice of dressing. I try and bring that in my characters in my movies. It’s a conscious effort. When you do interesting stuff the public notices it and appreciates it. It’s just been three years in film designing and I have completed ten movies. I am guessing I’m doing something right. I don’t really keep anything in my head when I choose a project. When something is offered to me I ask myself if I will be able to justice to the script. If it’s a ‘yes’, I do it, if I feel I won’t be able to do justice I say ‘no’. Honestly, whatever films I get I always try to give my 100 per cent and create something that everyone can relate to and will remember. Thankfully, till now it has been great. Some of my movies did great business, a few of them didn’t, but every project that I designed clothes for made an impression and the audience took notice of the clothes. I am very happy with that.

Is there any particular genre of film that you’d like to work on?

Honestly I’m too new to be specific. Right now I want to do everything – I want to do all kinds of movies and work with all sorts of directors. I just want to create all different kinds of clothes and have loads of fun in the process.

Is there a wish list of actors you’d like to style/design for?

I am a costume designer; my wish list is more for directors than actors. I want to work with different directors, who create different worlds through their cinema and be a part of it. It can be any actor, for me a character is more important than the actor. Actually, my wish list is clearly more director-oriented. There’s of course Imtiaz Ali, Raju Hirani, Karan Malhotra, Puneet Malhotra and Ayan Mukherjee. I like watching their movies so I would love to be a part of their world. Then there is Vishal Bhardwaj, Mohit Suri and Anurag Kashyap. I love the dark grey world they create. I’m basically a kid in a candy shop – I want everything! But if I have to have to put up a wish list of actors, I would say I would want to dress-up Vidya Balan. There is definitely Ranbir Kapoor; I like him because he is also someone who gets into the character rather than being himself. I find that interesting. I want to dress Deepika Padukone. Though I must say Anahita (Shroff Adajania) dresses her perfectly.

It’s been three years you have been in designing costumes for movies. How has the journey been so far?

The journey has been outstanding. I come from a place where movies were just a dream and a forbidden one, to be honest. I come from a very intellectual Bengali family where reading poetry, learning about the great authors of the world and participating in debates about world affairs is what good kids did.  And there I was reading Filmfare and hiding them under my bed. So honestly I never thought I will be a part of the film world. But I guess God had a different plan for me and here I’m doing what I do. I have met some really amazing people here and some not so amazing ones, I have learnt loads and I am learning every day. It’s been really nice. I love what I do, and till the time I love it I’ll do it. The day I stop loving it, I will do something else.

Who are your favourite film costume designers and why do they inspire you?

Manish Malhotra, Anahita Shroff Adajania and Dolly Ahluwalia are three people I look up to. Manish, because he is responsible for creating a space and importance for costume designers in Hindi movies! He has essentially merged the mainstream fashion with films. He is a game changer. He has consistently done awesome stuff and created trends through movies and continues to do it till date. It’s very inspirational.

I love Anahita because she not only does some great work but  is one of the only ‘stylists’ in the country, who I feel, understands the distinction between styling a character for a film and styling a celebrity for an event. Most of the times a lot of the other stylists don’t get the distinction. I saw two movies recently where it looked like the actress was dressed-up 2 go for an event in every scene. They were wearing designer brands from top to bottom, but there was no character to the look. Anahita on the other hand will dress Deepika in a film and make the audience believe she is Fanny (Deepika’s character name in forthcoming film, Finding Fanny). At the same time she will dress Deepika on the red carpet as Deepika, looking gorgeous in all her glory.

Dollyji is a legend. Her work is unreal, the way she can create a character no one else can do it. I like some of Rushi Manoshi’s and Niharika Khan’s work too.

How did you get into styling/designing for films?

Films happened to me by pure luck. I met Shirish long ago, after Janeman, with Farah Khan. I loved the movie so told him very casually that, ‘When you make your next movie I will pitch for it’. When they started Joker they had some problems with the existing designer so Shirish called me and offered the film. I remember when he called I was supposed to leave for Spain a week after for six months. So I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision to quit my plan and do Joker. I spoke to my parents and they told me to give it a shot. Shirish was very sweet and said: ‘Don’t worry, worst thing could be you’ll mess up and I’ll you fire you and you can still go back to Spain. Don’t be scared just come and do it. I know you will be very good’. And since that day I never had to look back.

– By Rachana Parekh