We’ve underplayed the costumes in Haseena Parkar – Eka Lakhani
Shraddha Kapoor’s realistic transformation in and as Haseena Parkar has been much appreciated. The credit for which goes to Costume Designer Eka Lakhani who has successfully transformed her to look the part. Eka, who is also responsible for styling the rest of the cast, talks to Pandolin about showcasing the finer nuances of Haseena’s character, sourcing material from roadside shops and her affinity towards biopics, among other things.
How did you go about the research for the character of Haseena and her dressing style?
Before we had a costume meeting with Shraddha (Kapoor), I met Haseena’s family, her daughters. They showed me a few of her personal clothes and photographs. I also had a detailed questionnaire for them. That’s how I got to know the kind of stores she visited, what she wore etc. We gathered a lot of small details from there, for example, when she was a child, staying with her father, she had to have a dupatta over her head; it was a mandatory rule. You would never see her without the dupatta.
Once she got married, she got a small nose ring. Then, when she becomes aapa and comes to power, she starts wearing a bigger nose ring. So, we got all these details rolling in the costumes and then presented the entire look to Shraddha. We also got to know that earlier she would wear synthetic fabrics. But after she came into power, she visited stores like Sheetal Design Studio and bought designer wear from Premsons, Amarsons etc.
We went through the 80s and 90s lookbooks of these stores to understand the kind of fashion and trends that were prevalent at the time. That’s how we set the look for Haseena. We did the same for the other characters like Dawood Ibrahim. We used pictures that are available online and created a look around that. He wore a lot of turtlenecks in the pictures, hence we’ve used a lot of turtlenecks on Siddhanth (Kapoor).
The film spans a period of time from when Haseena was around 19 years of age to when she reaches 50. Even for Siddhanth it was from his early 20s to late 50s. So there’s a transition in their body type, for which we’ve used body padding. When Shraddha’s character is in her teenage years, we’ve used her as is. When she has her first baby, we’ve started using slight body padding and when she finally reaches power, in her 50s, we have used full body padding where we’ve given an increment of at least 6-7 inches in her overall size. We’ve done the same with Siddhanth as well.
Haseena had a particular style, which doesn’t really change as per fashion trends but it became her signature look
What according to you are the key characteristics of Haseena’s style?
She had these D&G specs, which her daughter gave us to use for Shraddha and we have used them in one of the scenes. She also had a 7-diamond nose ring that we’ve used. In the beginning of her life, she wore really light and happy colors but towards the end, she started moving towards dark colors, which could be because they show power and authority.
She had a particular style, which doesn’t really change as per fashion trends but it became her signature look.
Do you think you were able to largely replicate the original look?
Yes, a lot of it. When you see the film, they have used a lot of original pictures in the beginning along with the pictures of our actors. And they are almost as close to being real.
Shraddha wanted to keep the look as real as possible and was ready to do whatever it took
Were you able to source any readymade garments or were all of them created from scratch?
We did buy a lot of fabrics from different places and got them tailored according to the size that we wanted. Because you don’t get the 80s style right now. Today’s fashion is very different from what was available back then. But you do get the fabrics. Then it’s just the stitching and tailoring style and the embroidery that had to be done according to the 80s and 90s. It’s not very noticeable when you watch the film because the styling shouldn’t catch your attention. It’s important that you mainly remain with the characters. We’ve really underplayed the costumes and tried to keep them as real as possible. Clothes shouldn’t be the catching point in a movie.
Which markets or shops did you source the fabrics and accessories from?
We’ve actually gone to every station shop, the nameless shop, the bakdas. If I walk through Santacruz or Andheri station today, there will be a lot of roadside vendors who will recognize me because my team and I would be there all day, trying to get whatever fabrics were close to those of the 80s and 90s. We see Haseena grow up in a chawl. So we wanted to get the real vibe on screen. We didn’t want to go to Lokhandwala or Four Bungalows or Bandra fabric stores. So, we have purchased fabrics for Rs.70 to 80 per meter, things that you wouldn’t get in the suburbs.
We got a lot jewelry from Malad station. We also went to Pydhonie and Bhuleshwar to get wholesale fabrics for the rest of the crowd. We went to Mohammad Ali road in the middle of the night to do night shopping and picked up a couple of Muslim caps and scarves from the roadside shops. This film involved a lot of roadside shopping.
In a biopic, you have a reference point, so it doesn’t get that difficult because you are trying to replicate and give the audience what they’ve already seen
Did the actors have any inputs in the styling of their characters?
When we started working on Haseena, we had just finished OK Jaanu, so this was my second back – to – back film with Shraddha. She completely trusted me with what I was doing and that’s exactly what she told me, “You do what you have to do because even if I ask you half a question, you’ll give me detailed answers, which will fulfill all the questions I have in my mind, so I’m trusting you with everything. Just keep it real. Whatever you find closest to Haseena Parkar, just go for it, forget how I’ll look. I don’t want to look pretty in this film. I don’t want to look like Shraddha, I want to look like Haseena.”
She wanted to keep the look as real as possible and was ready to do whatever it took. They were shooting in the heat and the body padding was very irritating. But she was okay with everything.
Having worked with Shraddha in OK Jaanu, was it more difficult to work on Haseena as it is a period biopic?
Period films are more difficult for sure. But you can’t look at Haseena as a period film. It’s more like a biopic. In a biopic, you have a reference point, so it doesn’t get that difficult because you are trying to replicate and give the audience what they’ve already seen. They have a connecting point to the character by looking at certain images that are available on the Internet.
I am doing a couple of more biopics this year. Basically for me, biopics have become very interesting because you’re giving a visual image to what you’ve already seen on Wikipedia or Google etc. You don’t want to cheat the audience by giving them something that doesn’t exist.
With a period film, there is a lot of attention that goes into the other characters. For the main characters you at least have a reference point. But with the other characters, you have to be careful that you’re not going wrong with the way the clothes were, small details like the style of the collar, the style of the pants, everything has to be taken care of. Of course, you can work around it, but you can’t go far away from the real image. So it was interesting to work on this film.
We’ve really underplayed the costumes and tried to keep them as real as possible
Which other genres of films would you like to work on?
I would love to work on costume dramas, which I’ve not really been part of as yet. But I do believe my style is more realistic cinema. I am not the go-to stylist or designer when there is a bling or fashion glossy kind of a film. I feel I can justify my work better with realistic cinema. It can be a film like OK Jaanu but at least the characters in the film were real. It wasn’t a very glossy film.
I am currently working on the Sanjay Dutt biopic, which is very interesting. It’s my second biopic in this year. Besides that I am a great fan of costume dramas like Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Bajirao Mastani etc. That’s a space that I’ve never been in but I would love to be in.