Last year they were in the news for winning a National award for Makeup for Nanak Shah Fakir. Within a short time of starting their career in prosthetic makeup, they are now literally ruling the space. Their most recent work which is actor Nawazuddin Siddqui’s look for Mom is heavily trending on social media. With their company, Da Makeup Lab, they’ve changed the game of prosthetics in Bollywood.

Having access to world class facilities here itself, filmmakers today don’t have to seek assistance from abroad when it comes to prosthetics and other aspects of complex makeup. Makeup artists Preetisheel Singh and Mark Troy D’Souza spoke with Pandolin about this slow paradigm shift, their upcoming projects and their overall process of functioning.


Preetisheel Singh working on Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s look for ‘Mom’

What is the process of designing a look for an actor? What was the reference point for Nawazuddin’s look for Mom?

We first read the full script. Then we visualize the character and either sketch it out or Photoshop it and show it to the director. We always make sure that we offer multiple options to the director to choose from. The look he likes is then locked. Sometimes directors ask for some special features to add a certain dimension to the character. We merge all that together. Finally, a look test is done with the look the director approves. The looks can range from beauty and fashion makeup to character makeup to prosthetic to bruising to beauty nurture. Anything that the character requires is done.

As for Nawazuddin’s look, Ravi (Udyawar, Director) had certain references in mind. After the initial meeting, we showed him our designs. We suggested that we could give him a set of teeth that will add a new layer to the character. Also, for the hair, the director said, “I want a comb over feel. Much like bald people comb their hair back.” These people tend to comb over a certain layer to cover the bald patch. That was one of the main requirements for his character. We looked at actual references. It was a process of mix and match before arriving  at the final look. We then executed a look test and finalized the look.

You’ve given dentures to Nawazuddin for Mom. This gives his character a slur in his speech. Was this speech pattern decided or the actor improvised with the makeup?

The false teeth itself give the character an interesting speech pattern. It was a decision taken in the pre production stage itself. After we designed the look and showed it to the director, he liked our call about adding the teeth. The purpose of giving him those dentures wasn’t solely ornamental. It was a purposeful choice. Before the look test, we did a dental cast for him where you get a full impression of the teeth. Then we stuck fake teeth on top of it. Fake teeth is like a cloth that you are wearing on top of your original teeth.

Giving Nawazuddin dentures wasn’t solely ornamental. It was a purposeful choice

Have you also designed other characters in the film?

For Mom, we designed Nawazuddin’s character and also the prosthetics part of the film. We worked on things such as injuries and blood-work.

Preetisheel Singh

Preetisheel with Nawazuddin in his look for Mom

How do pitches happen? Do you pitch a particular look to the director? Or is it the other way round? 

Majority of the times, when we read the script, we only come up with design options for the director. In some cases they suggest changes in look after seeing the Photoshop and sketches. But till now, in most of the cases, the directors have approved the first draft itself.

What are the raw materials you mainly use for prosthetics? Are they readily available in India?

The base material is silicone. It is the best material and has the most realistic feel when it comes to creating skin. About eighty five percent of our material is sourced from abroad. There is a dearth of vendors of such material in India. Whatever little we get here is also imported from abroad.

It is easier to cheat on camera using Silicone

What is the difference between silicone and latex when it comes to prosthetics? Do the two behave differently on camera ?

Latex was something which was developed back in time to make prosthetic pieces. The major difference is that latex is light and silicone is heavy. Latex is very opaque whereas silicone is transparent. When you apply silicone to a person’s skin, it matches correctly. It feels like actual skin. If you do the same with Latex, which we’d say is an old school technique, the details go missing. You cannot see the veins and capillaries beneath the skin. It is easier to cheat on camera using Silicone. Silicone clearly is an advancement from Latex, a change in technology.

Suddenly there are stories in Hindi films that are heavy on makeup. What do you think is the reason behind this shift? How do you see the future of prosthetic makeup in India?

The future looks bright. More and more actors are willing to experiment with their looks using prosthetics. In our country, for most of the people ‘Make up Design’ is a very new concept. Recently we went for a film meeting and sat on the budgeting. We’d segregated the budget in different sections. One of the sections was ‘Designing fees’. They asked us what that meant. We explained them that that’s precisely what is our specialty. We design looks for characters.

Right now people have started taking this department seriously. They are getting inspired by cinematic innovations and experiments of the West. The good thing is that even our stars are now open to transforming themselves for characters. It is quite inspiring and interesting. We get that chance and opportunity to come up with something different. We were excited about creating this look for Nawazuddin’s character because nobody had ever seen him in such a look, which was drastically different from his actual self. So, there is a huge scope of experimentation now. This phase is very exciting for us.

With a film project which requires heavy makeup, people are keen on calling artists from abroad

102 Not Out

Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in ‘102 Not Out’

What are the future projects that your company Da MakeUp Lab is working on? Do you also get projects from languages other than Hindi?

We just finished Phantom Films’ Bhavesh Joshi. We are working on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, Umesh Shukla’s 102 Not Out and Sriram Raghvan’s Don’t Shoot the piano player (Tentative title). We are also doing Sunny Deol’s son’s launch film.

We get offers from Telugu and Tamil cinema. We were contacted by Simbu who is a big star in Tamil films. He wanted us to do his ageing for a film called Triple A, which also stars Tamannaah. It is complete and will be releasing soon. We’ve done another South Indian film House Next Door which is going to release in Hindi as well. It has a lot of prosthetics involved because it’s a horror film. We’ve tried to show spirits in that film that look very different from what we’ve been seeing in Indian cinema so far.

How was the experience of designing looks for Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor for 102 Not Out?

When we met Umesh Shukla and his team, they briefed us that they wanted Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor to play father and son. They wanted us to show that age difference. Creating that look was challenging but what we finally achieved was appreciated by the director and loved by both the actors.

More and more actors are willing to experiment with their looks using prosthetics

How different is it after a National Award win?

It definitely feels good. But the purpose of interacting with websites like yours is to let people know that we offer world-class specialized service in makeup. With a film project which requires heavy makeup, people are keen on calling artists from abroad. However,  the fact is that we too offer services which are at par with the rest of the world. Be it anything in makeup, we are offering everything under one roof.