Makeup isn’t a veil to hide your face – Bhavya Arora
Bhavya Arora, a Mumbai-based makeup artist, started her career by assisting the famous makeup artist Puneet Saini on films like Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, various ads and award shows. Arora’s filmography includes interesting projects like the Marathi movie Lai Bhaari, Badlapur and the more recent Phobia. The young talent is also a preferred artist for actors like Radhika Apte, Genelia D’Souza and Lekha Washington amongst others.
In a chat with Pandolin, Bhavya reveals how she realized that makeup was her true calling, how she’s the happiest when wielding her brush and hopes she can spread more beauty wherever she goes!
How and when did you choose makeup as a career option? Please talk about your training in the field.
This decision happened around 2011. I wasn’t feeling happy or satisfied with my corporate job. I yearned for something more creatively giving in its approach. Makeup had always interested me and being a very course-oriented person, I was looking for courses where I could gain technical knowledge and know-how of the skills. A friend recommended Puneet Saini’s course and I took the plunge. After its completion, I assisted Puneet on her films before taking up individual assignments and clients.
I yearned for something more creatively giving in its approach
Having been associated with events, television and films, would you say that there is a difference in the approach to how makeup is done for each medium?
Fashion shows demand a very fashionable but similar kind of look for different faces. So though the palette is the same, I have to customize the look according to the faces. Whereas in films, the look is pre-decided, tested and agreed upon according to the character in the story. My challenge here is to maintain the continuity of the look every single day, till the film wraps up. I have to make sure that the character looks the same each day, yet, I have to be ready for changes that might come up due to the location, weather, or a change in light. Technically the makeup could be correct, but it could look bad due to a change in the lighting on set or on location. So one needs to be flexible for such last-minute changes.
TV commercials require less fashion, more contemporary and easy-going looks. While working on a TV commercial, I have to constantly be at the monitor, to check whether the look is natural enough or not.
You’ve worked on Marathi film Lai Bhaari too. Are the make up requirements in Marathi/regional cinema different from Hindi cinema?
Lai Bhaari was a big scale Marathi film, which was made like a Bollywood film. In fact, the brief for the makeup was to keep it at the level of a Hindi film. In regional cinema, the look is more modest, people do not set out to create looks or makeup trends as such. However, having done only one regional film, I am not sure whether I am the best person to answer this question.
What do you love the most about doing makeup?
My favorite part is working with real people. Basically, I encounter two types of people in my line of work – professionals like actors, and normal people like you and me. I love working with these people. I love how, with my skills they discover the prettiest self. Seeing their response is very gratifying. People have actually called me and said, “Bhavya, you have no clue about what you have done to our self-image!” It’s nice to hear that because when I started, I found makeup to be a very technical job, where a humane element was missing. But over a period of time my perspective about what a red lipstick can actually do, when you are having a bad day, has changed.
Professionally when I work on a look in films, I am transforming the director or writer’s vision onscreen. I have a take on how a character will or should look, which I’m extremely delightful about. Hair and makeup are tools, great mediums, to completely change one’s look. And it’s awesome to see how a character comes alive using these tools. Very recently, I did the film Phobia where the character’s face had to look washed out and messy most of the time. To do that, and maintain the continuity was very important. And it feels great to define a character!
What sets you apart from other makeup artists? Tell us about your signature style?
I believe in enhancing the beauty of a person. I don’t see makeup as a veil to hide behind. I keep the skin natural and concentrate on enhancing the features. There is undoubtedly something unique and beautiful in every face. And I believe that my style is to present that to the world. I don’t let it hide behind a cake of makeup, but enhance it and get it forth by keeping it as natural as possible. I simply love working with different faces. It gives me such a high to see their glowing and happy faces. And that’s my signature!
And where do you draw inspiration for your makeup?
I travel a lot and that keeps me up-to-date with life, people and trends. Also I follow and admire a lot of artists worldwide. Technology allows you to see what’s happening around the world; the work great that artists like Peter Phillip (artist for Robert De Niro) are doing. I keep looking for possibilities to expand my talent. I look at images from around the world and somewhere it inspires me to do that kind of work and to push my limits! In films, I completely surrender to what the character needs. I take a lot of pictures on my phone and keep going through the imagery when I am shooting.
In films, I completely surrender to what the character needs
Who are the artists, in India and internationally, that you look up to?
In India, Puneet is one of the artists that I really look up to. She has the ability to transform faces. Mickey Contractor has been around for so many years but is still relevant. He is exceptional. Daniel Bauer has done some crazy work ever since he came to India and redefined the kind of makeup that was being done here. And then of course there’s Peter Phillips! I would give anything to work with him.
What are the most important tools of an artist? Also is there a brand of makeup that you prefer?
I believe that makeup artists have to be very good with people. Half of the work is people management. During a shoot, there is so much stress with so many things happening. To manage all of that and center yourself, while keeping all the madness away, and delivering good work is the real deal. In such a situation, it is difficult to stay true to the brief. But it is a MUST. Other than that, how good you are creatively determines how far you go.
Coming to makeup brands, I love using Bobbi Brown, Armani, Mac, YSL, Urban Decay etc. Today we have access to some great brands. The quality is getting better with time and so many options are reaching our palettes. One can’t complain, one just has to choose!
The most important lesson is to find a balance between how you are as an artist and what you are meant to do
What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned while working in this field?
The most important lesson is to find a balance between how you are as an artist and what you are meant to do or have been asked to do. You have to find that little space in between and stay true to your artistic values, yet, meet the given brief. Sometimes you are asked to do crazy things, where you know that it might just not work out. That’s where you have to maintain the equilibrium of what I want to do, and what I am required to do in the project.