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Costumes are as important as director’s job: Uthara

Posted February 12th, 2020, 10:48 AM IST

Costumes are as important as director’s job: Uthara

In the recently released period film Ennai Nokki Paayum Thotta, the looks of both Dhanush, who played a college student who harks back to the 30s, and Megha Akash, who essayed an actress, garnered lot of appreciation. The stylist behind the looks was Uthara Menon, who bagged a few awards for the film recently.

Uthara started as a stylist for ad commercials and, impressed by the retro styling she gave actress Asin in a soft drink commercial, her brother Gautham Menon offered her a break in films. “Gautham asked me if I was interested in working in films. When I get an opportunity to style biggies like Ajith and Trisha (Yennai Arindhaal), why would I let go the opportunity? (Laughs). I just jumped at it without hesitation,” says Uthara, in conversation with DC.

“Ajith Sir was a delight to work with. It was a challenging task for me, as I had to change his looks completely (he played a cop in YA). Also, I had to convince Trisha who’s never outgoing when it comes to makeup. She essayed a dancer and I chose bright colours for her. Initially she was not for red lipstick and heavy kajal, but I made her accept a Bohemian style. When she got lot of positive response for the style, it was gratifying,” says Uthara.

After completing STR’s Achcham Enbadhu Madamaiyada, she moved on to Gautam Menon’s Ennai Nokki Paayum Thotta. “Styling for Dhanush was very interesting. For Rana, who did a cameo, and Megha, for a film inside film, I used costumes with suspenders, hat, waistcoat, lot of feathers and ruffles”, she shared.

Uthara says she insists on working for the entire film and in tandem with the art directors. “I work on colour palates along with art director so that there’s no mismatch in the frames. I even look into accessories like curtains, pillow covers etc.”

Talking about styling for the period Telugu Chiranjeevi starrer Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, her eyes glow. “Oh, it was a mammoth project. It is a film about a freedom fighter set in 1800. We worked for almost two years on the looks of the entire cast. There was not enough data on that subject. There were just two small pictures on the Internet and with them we created the look of Sye Raa. The production design team and I designed what Amitabh, Chiranjeevi, Tamannah and Nayan should wear, including jewellery and accessories. I worked on everyone’s styling. Chiranjeevi’s daughter Sushmitha Konidela, Anju Modi and I worked on the film. Rajeevan was the production designer. There were 20 tailors always on the sets. At least 500 people would be there every day and costumes had to be made for them overnight. It was a great experience working on the project.”

As far as Uthara is concerned, styling is yet to get due recognition as a profession. “Costumes are as important in filmmaking as the director’s job. There’s so much work in it”, she asserts.

In Telugu, Uthara has worked on Gang Leader with Nani, on Manam, where she did the sets, and on two songs for Sarrrainodu. Her work in Tamil includes styling for Vishal in Ayogya and Action and for all Ramya Krishnan’s personal work and in a film. Her upcoming films are Sultan with Karthi, Joshua, Irumbu Thirai 2, two Telugu films and two Malayalam ones, including Varane Avashyamundu with Suresh Gopi and Shobana.