OK Jaanu Costume Designer Eka Lakhani On Aditya & Shraddha’s Onscreen Style
Every Friday release comes up with its own share of expectations, box office ratings, and critical reviews. But here at MFG, what we are most concerned about is not how a script makes or breaks a movie or how the actors perform, but every sartorial detail of the film. Be it the costumes, styling, and makeup of the characters involved in the movie or a star’s off-duty ensembles on promotional gigs, we spot, review, and even get in touch with the people behind-the-scenes who help build an actor’s style file both on and off screen.
Accordingly, we got in touch with Eka Lakhani, the woman responsible for the cool and casual looks of Aditya Roy Kapur and the chic and hot looks of Shraddha Kapoor in their recently released film, OK Jaanu. In an exclusive interview with MFG, the costume designer revealed all that went into creating the actors’ onscreen style statements as Adi and Tara. Excerpts…
Please give us an insight into your treatment in styling the OK Jaanu characters?
OK Jaanu is a very young, beautiful film. It’s fresh, it’s happy, it has no villain, it is has no negativity. It’s a very positive film and that’s the kind of vibe we wanted to bring across through our costumes as well. So we’ve kept it really light and casual and at the same time we’ve played around a lot with warm colours so it brings out the desired positivity. We’ve characteristically worked on the characters of the film, one of them is Aditya (Roy Kapur), whose screen name is also Adi and the other is Shraddha who’s character’s name is Tara. Now, Adi’s a gamer boy in the film, so he’s seen wearing casuals and loose pants and stuff like that because he’s a guy who doesn’t really think about what he’s going to wear. Shraddha’s character is a very aesthetically beautiful person with good taste. She’s an architect and interior designer, so her choices are automatically really nice and we’ve given a lot of thought to this fact when designing for Shraddha. Accordingly, her clothes are also very situational. So while Adi has the same laid back attitude whether at home or office, Shraddha has a very different look when she’s in office and a very different look otherwise. But at the same time, everything is very understated and very real. There is no extra clothing, no extra showoff. The looks are simple.
You said that the looks are designed to be simple, but both Shraddha and Aditya’s looks are very up-to-date. How did you manage that?
That’s the whole idea. So it’s really casual but it’s not boring. There’ll be something that’ll still catch your attention, there’ll be some such detail to it. Like even if Adi is wearing a pair of ripped white jeans so there’ll be something around his hand or some other detailed element to complete his look.
Like, you said, Shraddha’s character is that of a girl-next-door but with refined tastes. Anything in particular from the style that girls could incorporate in real life…
Through Shraddha’s style, we wanted to bring across an androgynous attitude but in a girly manner. So we didn’t want the androgynous theme to look very tom-boyish. Like when she’s wearing suspenders, we’ve teamed them up with skinny jeans that are nicer. The other thing that you can take from Shraddha’s style in the film is this one backpack that she’s wearing through the film but it’s a nice, signature backpack and not a boring one. So the idea is that even if you have typical things, they can be things with, at least, one stand out element. That way, even if you repeat it with different number of clothes, the overall ensemble will look good. Now it could be a signature pendant or a signature ring or signature shoes. You just have to make sure that it does go well with what you’re wearing. In the end, you are one individual. Even if you wear five different outfits, you are still going to be that individual and your individuality shouldn’t get lost. And that’s precisely what we’ve done for Shraddha in the film. You see her wearing ethnic clothes, you see her wearing shorts, you see her wearing different attires, but through all, she still remains Tara. So that characterization is what’s important.
Shraddha’s style is a perfect combo of traditional and contemporary, like that yellow bandhani shirt we see at the beginning of the trailer. How did you work that out?
Because she’s an architect and an interior decorator, you see her going to Jama masjid at some point in the film where she’s taking interior notes. Now we wanted that element to come across. So while she wears skinny jeans with suspenders and crop tops with dungarees, we didn’t want to miss out on the other side of her, the ethnic side of her. So we’ve used Indian textures, Indian colours, Indian prints. That Bandhani shirt is just an example of the same. Even in the song, Huma, she’s wearing Kathiawad mirror-work embroidered shorts. So the richness of ethnics was retained through her clothes.
We also see a lot of faux silver jewellery on her. Could you elaborate a little on that?
We’ve used a lot of Amrapali jewellery for her, while we’ve also used a lot of Forever 21. So it’s a mix of everything. That’s also something, I think, everybody can take from, that just because you’re wearing a western attire, doesn’t mean you can’t carry Indian jewellery. So if you’re wearing, let’s say, a pair of jeans and a top, you can totally pull off jhumkis and kolhapuris with it.
Could you throw some light on Aditya’s character as well?
Adi is very very casual in the film. Like I said earlier, unlike Shraddha, who is appropriately dressed when going to the office, Adi will be seen in similar attire when going to the office or sitting at home. So with Adi, we’ve carefully designed costumes so that when he’s going to the office, it doesn’t look like he’s going to the office. You’ll see him wearing a loose shirt with coloured shorts, a cap that he wears almost all the time and a backpack. Shaad (Ali), our director, was very interested in keeping Adi in slippers and shorts so that we don’t lose sight of his casual attitude at any point. Although, he’s a gamer boy who designs games, the idea was to keep the look really casual. The only thing that stays constant about him is the accessories he wears around his wrists. Say wristbands for example. His look is very cute and anybody and everybody can dress like that in real life as well. It’s only in films that we see men dressed in not-so-casual attires. In the real world, however, we see people dressed in cool casuals. That’s what we’ve tried to achieve with Adi’s character, that casualness. And in Huma Huma again, we’ve brought the ethnic vibe on him. We took a bandhani fabric and made a shirt out of it for him.
Actually, throughout the designing process, we’ve tried to keep some element in every character which reminds us of our tradition, something that is ethnic and cool at the same time.
It’s not just Shradhha, we see Aditya wearing suspenders too. Is it a fave with you?
Yes, Adi is wearing suspenders in the song Enna Sona. The song is full of montages and there’s an underwater dream sequence where he’s wearing suspenders with pants and a classic shirt. The thing is that his look is so casual in the film that these were the only places where we could play around with his clothes. You’ll see in the song there is another montage of a 70s party where he’s seen wearing a funky black shirt with orange flowers and sequined, bell bottom pants. This was another place we could do something different with his look. The same goes for his look in the Huma Huma song. But for the rest of the film, we’ve kept Adi’s look very very simple.
How different would you say is styling someone in reel life is from that of styling someone in real life?
I personally enjoy the whole process of knowing and understanding a character and then going shopping for that particular character specifically. So when I go shopping, I think if this is the bag (for example) that Tara would buy. Given that she’s an architect, she’d have some books and stuff that she’ll need to keep in the bag, so would the bag suffice her needs. So that’s how you’d style someone in real life too. You put the person’s needs and comfort first. You dress him up according to the lifestyle he leads. So styling for a reel life character similar to styling a real person in that sense but there are quite a few differences too. Like in a film, you’d work with colour to intensify situations, something I do a lot. With this film, we mostly had to bring on a happy vibe, so we’ve used colours that are warm and happy and positive. If there’s an emotional scene between Shraddha and Adi, we’ve used white with more pastels. And if the characters are happy, we’ve used bright and vibrant colours like red.
Are there any particular looks in the film that you can identify with and you feel have turned out exceptionally well in the film?
Yes, there’s this one look where Shraddha is wearing a bandhani dress and there’s a whole song around it. Shraddha looks so innocent and sweet in that. I had actually just decided the colours that’ll go well with the curtains that Shraddha is sitting in front of but as it turned out, the mood of that seen got highlighted with that colour. The same goes with this red Ritu Kumar outfit that Shraddha’s wearing in front of Gateway Of India. The colours of this dress just pop in front of the neutrals and browns of the walls. And also the Huma Huma outfits seems to have become a rage. I’ve been receiving a lot of messages and emails from people wanting to buy the mirror-work shorts and the bandhani shirt. Even the kurta Shraddha’s wearing at Jama Masjid is a Tarun Tahiliani kurta. The thing is that we’ve used good designs but at the same time we’ve used local brands. So we’ve bought stuff online, we’ve bought stuff from Hill Road. Given that the movie is about a live in relationship, Shraddha and Adi are seen at home many times and I didn’t want to use anything fancy or out of the box for home. So Shraddha is seen wearing oversized Tees and boxer shorts; night clothes that we often work during the day as well. So we’ve bought some really nice designer kurtis and dresses from goo designers and we’ve also bought some of her casual outfits from Zara, Forever 21, Forever New, etc.
What other designers apart from those you already mentioned, will we see Aditya and Shraddha don in the film?
Well, there’s Ritu Kumar label, we’ve used Tarun Tahiliani, we’ve used Payal Khandwala and Anita Dongre. In fact, in one of the most important scenes, which I won’t reveal in fear of giving out too much, Aditya and Shraddha are both wearing beautiful outfits by Anita Dongre.
Any movies that you find inspirational in terms of costume designing and styling?
In a fashion space, I really like Highway because I feel working with just 4-5 outfits throughout the film is really challenging and interesting. Alia’s seen repeating her outfits in different ways every time and I really liked that. It’s something I’d like to do. And otherwise, I like all of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films because those are costumes that you love to see onscreen; the colours, the volume and everything else is simply magical. So these are two genres of costume design that I really like.
Can you tell us a little about your past projects and if there are any fashion moments that you recollect from the same?
I go between Hindi and Tamil industry. I started off with a Mani Ratnam film and immediately worked on his next film as a costume designer. So I didn’t get a long shifting period anywhere. It was a great jump for me. Having said that, a lot of my sensibilities come from a Mani Ratnam, Santosh Sivan kind of school training. As for memorable fashion moments from past projects, I think I’d have to pick NH10 that starred Anushka Sharma. I’m really happy with the way the costumes worked out despite the limited scope. Anushka too really liked the look I designed for her.
Any of your projects that we should look forward to?
Given that I am from Mumbai, I work mostly in Bollywood and I do have a few projects lined up but the only one that I can give out the name of is Shraddha Kapoor’s Haseena.