We had to ensure that the mood of the scene was conveyed with colors
Suvarnareha Jadhav is the mind behind the beautiful costumes of The Path of Zarathustra that releases today. She is not only a designer but also a teacher whose qualifications include a Diploma in Textile Design, a Masters in research of drawing and painting. She multitasks and creates with the knowledge of the past so far behind that it will make your head swirl.
Suvarnareha spoke to Pandolin about her upcoming release and all that went into putting together the costumes for The Path of Zarathustra.
How was it working on The Path of Zarathustra?
It was a very good experience. For six to seven months Oorvazi (Director) and I were just researching and talking to people. I had to research the Sasanian /Iranian period. There were not many references available .We went through a lot of books from the time . I have a Masters in Fine Arts and a Diploma in Textiles, both of which helped in designing the costumes for the film.
Tell us about the film and how your clothes made an impact.
Being a Parsi film we had to be very careful about the authenticity of the clothes and could not cheat at all. The garments worn by the Priests, the headgear etc. had to be precise. There were some modifications required for Oorvazi because being a woman she could not just pick any typical ready garment like a jama. I had to create something that suited her. For example, after the death of her grandfather (Tom Alter), Oorvazi had to push a cart uphill with him on it and needed something which was more comfortable and looked Parsi. We made pants for her that looked very Parsi and she could move about easily in them. Such technicalities were kept in mind while creating the costumes.
Since it was a Parsi film and we had decided that we will work with elements of nature, I wanted to bring that out through the colors and materials used. There had to be a good amount of white as most of the Parsi garments are white. We were clear on the fact that we wanted a very subtle progression from white to soft pastels. We have maintained a natural palette throughout. The darkest color used is in the mid tone. There is no dark tone. Also we created garments out of natural materials.
As a young girl Oorvazi wore white but as she matures the softer pastels come alive. The brightest color she wears is when she is with Perseus (Rushad), a beautiful shade of orange which goes so well with Rushad’s soft olive T-shirt with a bit of orange hint in it. It’s my favorite scene from the film in terms of costumes. Another beautiful garment that we made for Oorvazi was a flowing gown in layers of white and soft greys when she is with Rushad having her morning coffee. The gown goes so well with those flowing white curtains. The whole look is so surreal and dreamy.
We all used to have meetings, my DOP for his inputs on the lights he was planning to use, the director, the producer and the production designer for the background colors before finalizing the palette. We borrowed some of the clothes especially the Jamas. A few of the actors wore their own clothes that fit in our palette.
What is the process of designing that you follow?
Oorvazi and I go way back and I knew that this film was on her mind. When she was finally making it she called me and asked me to come on board. So I was well aware of the idea. We then sat on the script to get down to the details. We had to ensure that the colors were just right and that the mood of the scene was conveyed with colors. And I knew exactly what Oorvazi wanted. We started the process of sketching, creating color swatches, sourcing materials, actual construction of the garments, trials fittings etc. We tested every fabric in front of the camera to see if it was fine. A lot of research went into designing the two gowns worn by the priests seen on the beach as they had to look as if they belonged to another era.
I have personally dyed a couple of Oorvazi’s sarees to achieve exactly what we had in mind. The sarees were also draped in a different way, especially the pallus. We printed a shawl worn by Vivek for the character of Kardir. The motif print on the shawl was finalized after a detailed study and inputs from Oorvazi. All these costumes were constructed at the “Vetements Studio’’ by Anuja Jaiswal and Rachana Kumar. These girls went out of the way to help us execute the designs and worked round the clock to keep up with the deadlines. I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work and taking over as and when I required them to do so.
How was it working with Director and Actor Oorvazi Irani?
It was like home. We have a great comfort level with each other. We both understood each other’s artistic needs. In fact the entire crew was always in sync.
Was it difficult for you to find references for a genre like ‘Magical Realism’?
Yes it was because even the Iranian-Sasanian period was 3,000 years ago. Of course some references were available but they were all battered so it made things a little difficult. We went through a lot of books and websites but there were no images that we could copy from. We had to mix and match. We went to very old Parsi shops and looked at the old Gara saris with old borders.
Did the actors give their own inputs?
Not really. Rushad felt his character should wear little brighter colors like yellows and orange as his character is a half Parsi boy who belongs to the city. We had be very careful of the two gowns wore by the Priests since they were used in beach sequences and if there were retakes it would be a problem because of the sea water and mud. The actors were also initially anxious about the length of the gowns.
Did you use any accessories?
There were not many accessories. Even Oorvazi isn’t wearing any (accessories) because initially she is a village girl. It’s all very simple. There were just some handcrafted scarves that we used.
Have you worked on any other Indie films and how has this experience been different from the others?
I have earlier worked in Television as a Production Designer and Chief Assistant Director and designed costumes for theater too.
Now that you have done an indie film, do you want to work on big budget Bollywood films?
Every project is a challenge. Like dressing up 50 people for a dance sequence is also hard work, which I wouldn’t mind. I loved this (film) because there was a lot of research that went into it. I have presented papers abroad on art history, mainly on Indian traditional arts in ‘Dyes in History and Archaeology Conferences’ in Europe and also at design institutes. I would love to do films where my research comes in use.
Can you tell us about any projects that you are working on?
I have started working on a couple of things but it’s too early to say anything about them.
– Devanshi Shah