Chandigarh, April 24: Having worked with top-of-the-line film directors in Bollywood, costume designer and actor Dolly Ahluwalia Tewari feels her craft is more valued in the film industry now.
“The directors and stars value what costume designing is. A lot of importance is being given to this aspect,” said Ahluwalia, who bagged the National Award in 1996 for costume designing in Shekhar Kapur’s “Bandit Queen” and the Filmfare Award for best costumes for Vishal Bharadwaj’s 2007 film “Omkara”.
Ahluwalia remains a sought after name even though she loves to be in Chandigarh – the city where she has settled in the last few years.
She is currently “very busy” with designing costumes for Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, the film inspired by the iconic athlete, ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh.
“Costume designing for films is more demanding and taxing,” said Ahluwalia, who is designing the entire wardrobe for the Farhan Akhtar-starrer “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”.
“Here we are trying to cover someone else whose image has to be projected correctly. There is a lot of focussing and detailing involved. We have to fantasise a lot too to relate the costumes with the audience,” she told IANS.
Besides designing clothes, Ahluwalia is a keen actor herself. She figures as an actor in the just released “Vicky Donor”, a film on sperm donation.
A National School of Drama pass out, she even won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001.
Ahluwalia, who also bagged the best costume International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) award for Saif Ali Khan’s “Love Aaj Kal” in 2009, says films these days spare adequate budget for costumes.
Asked about female actors wearing revealing clothes, she laughed and said: “The lesser the clothes, the more expensive they are. Less clothes mean the actress will charge more. Everything becomes expensive. It is a game. But whatever is happening is for good.”
Among her forthcoming films, besides “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, are Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children”, which was shot recently in Sri Lanka, and Anurag Kashyap’s “Luv Shuv Te Chicken Khurana”.
Of her past work, Ahluwalia rates “Bandit Queen” as “great work” with a “great director”.
She says “Omkara” was a “very creative film” which “Vishal (Bharadwaj) balanced very well”, and she describes Deepa Mehta as a director who gives “a lot of creative space” to the designer.
Having worked with some of the big names among actors in Bollywood, Ahluwalia says some actors “are fussy” about clothes.
“They want to stay in the limelight and want to look like stars always. Some act starry, but most understand the requirements of the film,” she said.
Ahluwalia, who shuttles between Chandigarh, the city she loves and yearns “to come back to”, and Mumbai, says she is quite content doing work on her own terms.
“I am away from the rat race. I have never asked for work. I am blessed,” she concluded.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)