Soorarai Pottru costume designer Poornima Ramaswamy: Everything looks good on Suriya
National Award-winning costume designer Poornima Ramaswamy on what went behind conceiving the costumes of Soorarai Pottru
Among other things, Soorarai Pottru was appreciated for its costumes and is it any surprise that the person behind it is the National Award-winner, Poornima Ramaswamy. Interestingly, the young designer, who has previously worked with director Sudha Kongara in Irudhi Suttru, says her job is a success only if people don't notice her work. "The costumes should never be a distraction; if it sticks out, it is a failure," says Poornima.
Suriya’s clothes, she says, were designed keeping in mind his timeline in this film. "He wears a black shirt in the train protest scene during his younger days. Black symbolises strength and we use it to show what a tough cookie Maara is," says Poornima, who has also designed the costumes for other characters in the film, including the extras. “We decided to use a lot of colours for Bommi (Aparna Balamurali) and used floral patterns because her chirpiness makes her the life of the film. We also designed Che and Seby's clothes keeping their characters in mind."
While the colour palette is unrestricted, she says that she wanted to make sure the çlothes of Maara and Bommi were not cinematic. “Maara keeps using the same shirts again and Bommi wears a used saree with different blouses, as that’s how real people function." The pre-production and meetings were rigorous, she adds. “We did a lot of trials and look tests. We made sure that before each scene commenced, we had all the costumes labelled, packed and sent to the respective actors.”
The designer’s excitement was partly on account of the film featuring the armed forces. "We got a lot of help from Airforce officers and flew multiple times to get facts right. We were intrigued by how their uniforms were kept safe by their spouse," says Poornima, who was keen that the uniforms look authentic. "We used the same fabric that was used to make the uniforms back then and got the badges from the place that actually stitches for our airforce." There was also quite a bit of coordination with cinematographer Niketh Bommireddy and art director Jacki. "The film is a product of teamwork. We usually see the colour tone changed during post-production. Niketh was happy with the end product and I was happy to see the tone retained in the film. Jacki sir gave plenty of inputs too—especially for Karunaas sir's character. The freedom to work is important and I am glad that we had that working in this film."
For Poornima, working with Suriya is like being with family. “He is Saravana anna for me. I am his sister's childhood friend and have known him from when I was a kid," adds Poornima, who worked with the actor for a coffee advertisement and the feature film, Thaanaa Serndha Koottam. “We share a lovely work rapport and that's aided by how professional he is. He's a perfectionist with a keen eye for detail. Anything looks good on him," says Poornima, who is a constant collaborator in Jyothika's projects as well. "It's fun to work with someone as punctual as Jo anni," adds the designer, who is working on Jyothika's next with Sasikumar.
Ask her what a recognition like a National Film Award means for a technician like her and she says, "Though it is like a pat on our back, it comes with responsibility. Today, even something as simple as a prop in the backdrop that doesn’t belong to the mood of the scene irks me because the frame always has to look good and the elements need to be loyal.”