Any movie, to complete requires an ace hair and makeup artist! Shifa Khan, one of the upcoming hair and makeup artists in the film industry brings something new to the screen through her work in Oorvazi Irani’s The Path of Zarathustra. In an interesting interview with Pandolin, Shifa talks about makeup, her upcoming movie and the film industry.

2013-05-23 21.45.26-2-1

Shifa Khan

How did you get associated with The Path of Zarathustra?

My association with the film was through one of my friends who used to work with Oorvazi Irani. My friend got me in touch with her and as they say, the rest is history; I started working with her.

How was your experience working in this film?

It was great! The main thing in my mind during the making of the movie was to give my best shot. Creating a new look for every scene was an exciting and a fun experience overall.

How challenging was it to create every look for the characters? 

It was quite challenging as the story of the movie involves the main character, played by Oorvazi Irani, to move from village to town. The character does not know how to dress nor does she know anything about makeup. So, according to the character the makeup had to be very flat. Showing this flat look along with tracking the character’s transition was challenging. 

What kind of references did you look at?

We had a lot of references & research material, which Oorvazi had provided. The character’s look needed to be elaborate, but without using much makeup, doing this was tricky. Also, Oorvazi’s character did not know anything about grooming or makeup, which  added as a reference point to create the look. Using these reference points I created a look for the movie.

What is your process of creating a look in a movie?

The process actually depends on the story and the script. The way a character has been written and needs to be portrayed plays a huge role in creating a look. If my director wants a particular look, then I have to keep that look in mind for the whole film, from the start to finish and maintain it throughout the movie and pay attention to each and everything. For example, we had various look tests in The Path of Zarathustra before the final look was finalised.


Can you elaborate on the look for each of the main characters

The lead character and director, Oorvazi Irani was very particular with what she wanted. This encouraged me to always think how to make the look even better. All the actors were fair so the main question was if makeup should be applied or not. But various other aspects like outdoor shooting, that results in tanning also needed to be considered. So keeping all this in mind I created the makeup so that the complexion of each actor should remain the same and the continuity should be maintained throughout the film. 

Has working on this film helped you grow as an artist, if yes then how?

Enhancing the look with makeup is easy, but to maintain a nude and flat look is more challenging. When you are creating a nude look there is no kajal or anything, which makes it very difficult. To work with no or minimal color in the makeup has been an experience and helped me grow as an artist. 

Your best look from the movie is?

My best and favourite look from the movie has to be, when the main character, Oorvazi Irani is wearing a scarf and white sari in the Parsi temple. The fact that the character doesn’t know how to drape a sari adds to the entire look of the character making it very interesting. 

Is it a challenge to do hair and make up for the male actors as there is not much scope to experiment?

No, actually it is the base of the makeup that is very important. Even though they don’t require much hair & makeup, it is equally important. 


Did you pursue any formal/educational training in this field before entering the industry? 

No, not really. I started my career by assisting Shahnaz Hussain when I was 15 years old and it was from there that I slowly learnt the basics and since then I am just learning the art of makeup. 

How did you start in the film industry?

I initially started through TV serials, ramp works and also used to work for the Kingfisher model, Madhu Sehna. But my career in the film industry started by working as an assistant for a friend on a movie called Dehil khabari. My work impressed the director and he offered me to work on the movie and I said yes, of course.  After that I got my second film The Path of Zarathustra.

What are the challenges young makeup artists face while entering the film industry?

For a makeup artist to make it into the industry needs the ability to visualise things because makeup is not like you can just pick up a brush and start applying. They need to understand the face, understand the occasion the character is placed in. If not for a film then what occasion are they working to create a look for must be clear. Makeup is much more than just colors, most important, it involves creativity that a makeup artist should have. So mastering this creativity can be challenging. Other than this, initially when I was trying to get into the industry I didn’t get any work, see, back then I was a fresher so everybody used to ask me have you worked somewhere?  So that is another challenge makeup artist should prepare themselves.   

What would be your advice for young makeup artist who want to enter the film industry?

My advice would be that one should be more passionate if you really feel that you can create something new or you want to be a hair and makeup artist, then creativity should be in your mind. Creativity is something that will take you a long way, so build it.

– Aarti Sukhija