Lending a regal touch

Published On: 2016-07-05

Author: P. ANIMA

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Lending a regal touch


Source: Hindu 

Date: January 21, 2008  


Touted as one of the biggest releases of this year, Ashutosh Gowarikar’s “Jodhaa Akbar”, releasing early next month, spins a yarn around a glorious chapter of the Moghul era Expectations are high since the epic romance is the third big film to come from the Gowarikar stable after the much-acclaimed “Lagaan” and “Swades”. With Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai coming together again after the successful “Dhoom II”, the movie has managed to grab headlines much before its release. 


A different era 

But “Jodhaa Akbar” captures life of a different era. Amidst the towering palaces and the blinding opulence, the battle cries and tentative times of peace, a young Akbar and the fiery Rajput princess Jodhaa serenade the tunes of love. However, as one marvels at the perfectly pleated odhni and the glittering angarkhas worn by the principal actors, attention is drawn to the work of costume designer Neeta Lulla, who has given the actors the perfect royal look. It’s no secret that the jewellery worn by the cast was one of the fiercely guarded treasures during the shoot. With Akbar, Jodhaa and the rest of the actors adorning pure gold and precious stones jewellery, “Jodhaa Akbar” aroused curiosity about its attempts to give authenticity to the time portrayed. This of course did not make Lulla’s task any easier. With “the look” of the film her responsibility, Lulla has strived to give the characters a regal appearance that lends a glimpse of the era, yet is not an unimaginative copy of it. “‘Jodhaa Akbar’ is not a historical or a period film. It is an epic romance,” categorises Lulla, who has other romances like “Devdas” to her credit. 


An epic romance 

By preferring to call the film an “epic romance” instead of a “historical” or even a “period” drama, Lulla probably is giving herself an opportunity to experiment, rather than making the costumes a stitch by stitch replica of the times. But she assures research has been vital to her work. “An epic romance of this calibre involves theory and research,” says Lulla. Research took her to Rajasthan as well as Agra, where she learnt more about the fine embroidery of the period. The royalty of Rajasthan also came to her aid with their paintings and books that helped Lulla re-create this 16th Century epic. It took her about 6-8 months to transform all that theory into fine costumes, and the filming took a year. “The challenging part for me was to strike a balance. I had to work within the creative parameters but keeping in mind the dresses available at that time. The idea is to make the contemporary audience relate to them. I had got an outline of the look by learning what was prevalent at that time. It was important to fill it in creatively,” explains Lulla. She has designed not only for the star actors, but the entire cast. “The challenging aspect for me about “Jodhaa Akbar” was working on the entire look of the film. It was not only the main cast that I designed for, but the lesser known ones too, including the soldiers,” says Lulla. 


Royal aura 

As far as the principal actors go, the idea was to give them a royal aura. Lulla worked on a range of colours and detailing. “For Aishwarya, it is mostly ghagra-cholis and Hrithik will be predominantly seen in angarakhas. The fabrics are mostly silks and brocade and the colours used are warm red, yellow, saffron and green,” reveals Lulla. But the well-known designer admits “detailing” was the key when it came to accessories. From Jodhaa’s ghunghroo to Akbar’s head gear everything bears the mark of an earnest eye. “The turbans are all hand-made and done in silk, raw silk and malmal. They are all embellished with precious stones like diamond and rubies,” says Lulla. The talking-point of the film – the jewellery – was the outcome of research as well as meetings with representatives from Tanishq jewellery that provided the royal collection. “It was more of a collective effort,” says Lulla as the jewellers and the crew pooled in their research findings to create the collection. But films that relate to an era, have also attracted controversies, as experts often find fault with the representation and authenticity of the characters, costumes and other factors. However, at least for the time being, Lulla wants to remain positive. “We are taking this very optimistically. Every technician on board has put in as much research as possible,” she signs off.