Chhavi Thakur on what it takes to design costumes for Prabhudheva
In this freewheeling chat, costume designer Chhavi Thakur talks about colours, experimenting, and what it takes to keep Prabhudheva in style
Costumes play a definitive part in introducing a character to you, and while designing a costume for a star such as Prabhu Deva, this aspect is at once both challenging and rewarding, says Chhavi Thakur, the personal stylist of the actor. Chhavi, who has worked as a costume designer in several projects in Bollywood and Kollywood including Akshay Kumar-starrer Its Entertainment and Charlie Chaplin 2, is now making costumes for as many as 15 characters in Prabhudheva’s upcoming Bagheera.
Having made a mark in a profession that sometimes tends to be brushed aside for being about ‘dressing up’ people, the young stylist explains the work that goes behind conceptualising a costume and its significance in transforming an actor into a character. “My friends think my work is simple and easy. There’s more to costume designing than what people think. From picking fabric, customizing accessories, integrating colours according to scene background, and ensuring the actor feels comfortable while also keeping the character in mind to making it all look real, there’s a lot of discussion and creativity that gives shape to the character that one sees on screen,” she says. “The focus on costumes is larger than ever now; there’s greater awareness in the industry. While Bollywood and Kollywood styles are distinct in their own ways, the gap is slowly getting bridged and both sides are beginning to understand and appreciate each other’s style in films.”
Speaking of working for Prabhudheva, Chhavi says, “Prabhu sir is very particular about wearing comfortable clothes while also staying stylish. For instance, for a dancer like him, you can’t pick any shoes just because they look good; it must help him perform at ease as well. Likewise, in Bagheera, it took a lot of detailing and references to make Prabhu sir’s costumes look distinct without repetition and comfortable. Without a second thought, I would say this film is one of the most challenging projects I have worked on so far.”
While making a character look authentic is important, creativity comes into play when it comes to designing costumes for songs. The designer, who is active on Instagram and has shared many of her works in Prabhudheva's upcoming Yung Mung Sung, says the creative space was particularly wide when it came to designing for the film and its songs, as she took references from decade-old films and reimagined ancient Chinese characters.
“I used to work with an airline company and when I started looking for an alternative field, I realised fashion was my calling in life. I got a chance to experience various cultures in my previous job, and jumped into the film industry with no industry background. It took a lot of hard work, learning and support from there to get where I am today,” she says. “Prabhu sir recognises talent when it’s due. He saw my promptness and hard work on the sets while I was working as an assistant for a designer and offered me little projects. Once he was confident of my work, he began to offer me film projects."
Staying relevant in the industry which is constantly evolving is no mean task. “Over my seven years of experience since my first film, Shootout at Wadala, I have worked with several actors and the industry has evolved tremendously. I believe the change in cinema is reflecting in real life as well and vice-versa. Versatility is an important trait in the field. One must always be open to change and work on new ideas in fashion and that’s the mark I’d like to leave in my work--to be known as the person who can design anything. I believe I can do any work with this belief."
Adhik Ravichandran, director of Bagheera:
“Chhavi is the mastermind behind the film’s costume designing. She single-handedly designed for nearly 15 characters in the film and never says no to an idea. She has styled every character authentically and flies from Mumbai to Chennai to offer her inputs and take care of even minute details in the film. The costumes have become a highlight in the film, thanks to her hard work. This film will make her the most sought-after designer in town.”