Ritu Kumar Weaves Her Magic in Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children
Anita Majumdar and Rahul Bose in Midnight's Children
Closing the grand finale at the WIFW Spring/Summer 2013, and designing for wedding sequences in Midnight’s Children, designer Ritu Kumar has her plate full and enviably so. Here’s Ritu Kumar’s take on the confluence that brings her, Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie under one creative platform.
What was the brief given to you by the film maker and what was the inspiration for the costumes?
Deepa had given me a brief on her film adaptation of Salman’s book, and of course I went through the script in its entirety. I used a lot of references from my book “Costumes and Textile of Royal India” to achieve the unique look of these times of yore. Additionally, in-depth research was carried out in order to create the royal costumes for the three Muslim weddings in the film. These garments needed to accurately represent Muslim families of pre-Independence India.
While designing for a period flick like Midnight's Children, what was the most challenging part for you as a designer?
The major challenge was to recreate an aura between those 50 years, an aura which had unfortunately not been meticulously documented. A lot of research and hard work finally unveiled a background that could be used as a stencil to recreate costumes from that period. It was further compounded by the fact that the movie features four weddings. The first was in Kashmir, where a highly individualistic dress culture was written at the time, and continues to thrive to this day. The second had to reflect traditions of the Muslim community, traditions that were translated through three weddings, one simple and two more elaborate; they mirrored the individualism of that era. Some guestimate was required and a bit of creative liberty had to be taken in order to recreate these costumes by substituting present day fabrics that roughly resembled the ones of that time.
Soha Ali Khan in costume
Could you talk about the fabrics and embroideries that dominate the garments?
Elaborate brocades with patched silks and intricately embroidered borders with gota, kiran, zardozi have been primarily used for Shahana Goswami and Anita Majumdar. On the other hand, chanderi silk cottons dominate Soha Ali Khan and Neha Mahajan’s garments. Neha has a particularly interesting outfit—the phirin or traditional wool garment. The phirin depicts the Kashmiri bride aptly.
Which costume from the movie is your personal favorite? Why?
I really couldn’t choose. I enjoyed creating the ambiance of the post-Mughal way of life with all its grace and intricacies. The weddings feature exquisite garments in silks and brocades, and each one has an extremely glamorous feel to it. On the other hand, the costumes featured in the Kashmir portion of the movie were meant for a colder region and required layering of clothes, lending a completely different ambiance to the set up.
Shahana Goswami in an exquisite brocade creation for the movie
Do costume designs made for period movies have sale-ability?
Yes, but it really depends on the sensibilities and preferences of the customer actually.
How does it feel to be the chosen one for the grand finale of WIFW Spring/Summer 2013?
It feels great, and most certainly, all my focus currently is on WIFW 2013.
What is your trend forecast for Spring/Summer 2013?
I would have to say romantic blazing colors that draw inspiration from the mastery of graphics.
If you had to describe your personal sense of style in a line it would be......
Simple and elegant… leaning towards a more classic sense of style.