Datto needed to match up to the charms of Tanu – Reza Shariffi
Reza Shariffi is a name to reckon with in the world of costume designing. Having designed for several characters including the quirky Tanuja Trivedi (Tanu) in Tanu Weds Manu, the Designer is back again with Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Reza shares the experience of designing the looks for Tanu & Datto, two distinct characters played by the same person & how he gave each of them a distinctive charm.
What drove you to say yes to Tanu Weds Manu Returns?
When I was offered Tanu Weds Manu (my first project with Kangna) I loved the character of Tanuja Trivedi that she played in the movie. Tanu Weds Manu was also the first time that Kangna was to be dressed in out and out Indian costumes. The looks I created worked. My work was appreciated. I was also nominated in the Best Costume category. So when I was approached for Tanu Weds Manu Returns I had no reason to refuse.
What were director Aanand Rai’s requirements in terms of Kangna’s looks?
For Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Anandji’s brief was really brief. I was told to dress up a married Tanuja Trivedi who spent four years in London and was returning to India to attend Pappiji’s wedding, with some marital discord in tow. Her (Tanu’s) personality core remains the same with all the quirks and tweaks; only the passage of four years makes her choices of garments and accessories evolve to a new dimension.
So you had to keep in mind the old looks from the previous film as well?
Of course, in fact the story progresses from where it was left off – the wedding. The green wedding dress was recreated and so was the jewelry. Once the movie went on floor I had ensured some recreated outfits were kept on stand-by to maintain continuity from the prequel. Finally we used only the wedding outfit.
Since Kangna plays a double role, how did you’ll go about creating the two different looks? Does Kangna’s original character continue with the same style?
The original character of Tanu retains her choice in garments, colors, accessories footwear and so on but the newly introduced character of Datto aka Kusum has her own identity and personality, which has nothing to do with Tanu. In fact though they both belong to similar geographical and cultural backgrounds of North India, they are actually poles apart in their physical attributes and appearance. They have overlapping mental qualities of strength, brazenness and fearlessness yet they are very different in their choices of colors, garments, accessories.
What was the kind of research and thought that went into Datto’s tomboyish Haryanvi look?
For Tanu Weds Manu Returns the research I did for ‘Tanu’ was less as compared to ‘Datto’. As a character I wanted to ensure that Kusum / Datto does not become a typical ‘tomboy caricature’ but exudes a degree of feminine traits so as to let the hero fall in love with her convincingly. As Manu finds Datto as attractive and stunning as Tanu, Datto needed to match up to the charms of Tanu. When I created looks for Tanu Weds Manu Returns, my goal was to make Datto look as charming as Tanu.
Did you’ll work with a pre-assigned color palette for the two different characters? What kinds of fabrics & accessories did you work with for Tanu & Datto?
No, that would be predictable. There is no pre-assigned color palette or distinct color palette for the two characters of Tanu and Datto. In fact for Tanu, there is a clear palette spill over from the original movie. Tanu wears saris in net and printed chiffon in the sequel but her choice of jewelry and accessories like in the original movie continues to remain similar. She combines saris with moccasins, lace up shoes and overcoats. Once back home in India, she dresses up in wrap dhotis and flared skirts in ethnic colors and lightly embroidered kurtis. She is still in love with her glares and intriguing jewelry pieces like the Afghani neckpieces, Ladakhi jewelry etc. To retain the mystery of Tanu, the fabrics are all soft but bold like her persona. In keeping with Tanu’s adventurous spirit I have actually sourced fabrics and jewelry from various states of India.
When I began designing for Datto I envisioned two distinct looks for her: ‘on field’ and ‘off field’. Being a sports person she wears tracksuits with jackets and has a water bottle, sports shoes and haversack as accessories. She rarely wears jewellery. Off field she wears soft feminine colors, a bit of jewellery and sweaters. She has a cropped haircut to enhance her look as a sports person.
You’ve worked with Kangna earlier too. How was the experience this time around? Being a fashionista, what was Kangna’s involvement in deciding the looks?
I believe God is in detailing. This is my fourth feature film with Kangna. There is a professional fondness I have developed for her ability to interpret her character in all its various shades through the film. Over a period of time, I have observed her honing her craft and growing an uncanny ability to get into the skin of the characters she plays.
As professionals who are fond of research, generally we are on the same page when it comes to costume designing. Her inputs are very difficult to refute because you know it is going to add a definite value to your work. I believe we work quiet well.
Was there any particular aspect during the designing process that was challenging?
Yes there were quite a few challenges that this project threw at me. Firstly, right from the beginning I had to convince myself that these two are different girls. They are not the same person but two distinct individuals. The only common factor was that Kangna played them both. The second challenge was to make Datto look as endearing and appealing as Tanu, not only to the hero but to the audience too. And the third challenge was to dress up Tanu in a way that she looks ‘evolved’ but not necessarily matured. My goal was to retain the sharp edge of Tanu’s personality and also make the time lapse of four years obvious.
Lastly, you have worked on a diverse range of films over the years. What factors determine your choice of films?
I love research-based projects. Period films intrigue me as I get a chance to dive into the depths of that specified period and design authentic clothes. If for Sushmita Sen in Samay I met a lady inspector, for Rajjo I have visited a dance bar and for Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahati Hoon I have shopped from a local train. I have realized over a period of time that I don’t choose my work; my work chooses me.