'Nadigaiyar Thilagam costumes took 100 artisans over a year to make’
...says designer Gaurang Shah, who is making his debut with the biopic
The costumes of Nadigaiyar Thilagam/Mahanati, a biopic on legendary actress Savitri, took 100 artisans and over a year to make, says designer Gaurang Shah who is making his debut as a costume designer with the project.
Shah delved into the past of Savitri, played by actress Keerthy Suresh in the film, interacting with people and industry folks for months for his research, It took more than six months of research and over a year for weaving, texturing and colouring to get the look of actress Savitri right by Shah who as a designer grew up awed by vintage fashion traditions of India, ancient artistry, priceless heirlooms and treasures of history.
“The shooting of the movie went on for one year, and the weaving process was uninterrupted. The whole progression took more than a year and a half from the inception of the costumes to the conclusion of the last shoot,” said Shah, who has designed for the likes of Vidya Balan, Sharmila Tagore and many more.
The bilingual biopic written and directed by Nag Ashwin, is based on the life of legendary actress Savitri, who appeared mainly in Telugu and Tamil language films but also worked in Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi language films. She was also the recipient of the Rashtrapati Award and was honoured at the International Film Festival of India.
Nadigaiyar Thilagam has been filmed simultaneously in Telugu, and Tamil and also stars Dulquer Salmaan and Samantha Akkineni in the lead roles.Presented by Vyjayanthi Movies and produced by Priyanka Dutt of Swapna Cinema, the trilingual film is slated for release on May 9 across Indian and global theatres.
On recreating Priyanka and Nag Ashwin’s vision of Nadigaiyar Thilagam, Shah said, “For fashioning the design-to-life look of Savitri and capturing her journey in different moods and sequences in the film, I and my team kept in mind the sensibilities of the actress including elements such as the choice of fabric, types and textures.”
The designer also says that “it is my debut act collaborating with a film of this scale. It gave me a challenging opportunity to showcase Indian saris with great pomp, yet with fantastic simplicity, it carries through the journey of legendary actress Savitri. I wanted to ensure that we don’t go wrong in capturing the director and his vision of being absolutely authentic in recreating the magic of Savitri in her biopic film Nadigaiyar Thilagam. It was a perfect project for my debut in creating costumes for a beautiful biopic.”
Tremendous research has gone behind every costume that Savitri’s character will be wearing in the film.
“We sourced heavy silk fabrics from different parts of India like Kanchipuram, Benares which were enhanced with kota, mangalgiri and block prints that were then handcrafted in our looms by a dedicated team of more than 100 local artisans. While we used tones that carry a lot of radiance and associated with awe feminine character, we also had to balance it with traditional at-that-era of colours, since Savitri outfits were all about simplicity, grandeur,” said the designer.
Shah explored and recreated textiles to weave Savitri’s journey from her childhood to her passing away.
“From mangalgiri’s and kota’s with prints for her growing days, to heavy brocades, silks, organza’s and handwoven sateen’s, chiffons for her golden era to subtle rendition for her later life, my team travelled extensively to museums and recreated the textiles of that time. Each and every detail of the textile, design, texture and colour were studied and artisans were guided to recreate it,” said the designer.