When I was watching Don 2, the first thing that caught my attention was Shahrukh Khan’s style. The movie was decent. Even though Shahrukh had gone overboard with his dialogue delivery and his gait, his clothes were impeccable. A quick glance was enough to deduce that he had been dressed by a man who was well versed with international fashion meant.
I digged around a little bit, and finally discovered Jaimal Odedra – The man behind Shahrukh Khan’s fashion statement in Don 2. Luckily, he agreed to do a short interview for Bollykings (my first celebrity interview!).
Read what Jaimal has to say about the process of designing costumes and accessories for Don 2 and movies in general, how Bollywood is slowly catching upto Hollywood and why he does, what he does.
Tell us about your design process – How do you decide the “look” of various characters?
The first step for designing/creating a LOOK for a character is to read the script. As I read, I make mental and visual notes on what I imagine the character to be. By the time I read a script, there is already an actor that will play the role, so you know what they look like.
Keeping this in mind, I start to visualize how the character looks, behaves, and dresses in the story. There are many factors that make up the LOOK of a character. The location, the weather, the time period and the action are all taken into consideration.
Gone are the days when a Bollywood hero looked like a millionaire, even though he is playing a taxi driver in the film. We have come a long way as far as the styling of films is concerned. Bollywood is on par with Hollywood now.
After all the visual research is gathered, I will present the director with the LOOK: Sketches, storyboards, fabrics, colors, accessory ideas, etc.
We then present the ideas to the actor after it is all finalized with the director. Next step before shooting commences, is a LOOK TEST on the actor, with Hair, make-up and wardrobe, so we can all see what needs to be changed, adjusted, and added. After the LOOK is okayed, we go on the floors for the shoot.
What was the creative process behind Shahrukh’s character, Don?
SRK’s Don this time around is very sophisticated, polished, sharp and yet dapper. On one hand, he is shown having gentleman-like traits, qualities one would usually associate with Hollywood greats such as Cary Grant and Clark Gable. He also has a dandy twist not unlike what Johnny Depp would bring into his character nowadays. Whether Don is in a dapper suit or a boiler suit, he always adds one accessory that gels the look together to create a style statement – be it a silk pocket-square, a bandana, or a tattoo.
On the other hand, we have the very rugged ‘jail look’ which is unkempt, rough, macho and very menacing. He looks like he’s been underground and has changed his looks often, to remain under the radar of the worlds Interpol services. After all, “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai”.
Don’s look in the film is very chic and sharp with the use of layering: Fitted fine leather jackets, worn under overcoats, teamed with slim tapered pants and sophisticated brogue shoes, topped off with sleek driving gloves which encapsulates Don’s main look. Luxurious fabrics such as cashmere, silk, leather, pure new wool, linens and exotic skins add to the allure of the costumes and gives the character a very sophisticated edge.
The creative process involved researching into luxury fabrics, accessories and current fashion trends, in order to give DON the ‘up to the minute’ look. All his costumes were custom made-to-measure. The fabrics were all sourced in New York and London.
We had to make Don 2 bigger, better and far more stylish than the previous one, as expectations rised after the success of the first one. Farhan was very supportive of the looks I presented to him and very keen to push the limits.
Do stars have say in what you make them wear?
I like to think I am dressing an ‘actor’ more than a ‘star’. Actors understand that their costume is part of the character and adds to their acting, to create the character. They tend to be pretty open and easily adaptable to the various roles and characters, hence most are very keen to adopt the ‘look’ a costume designer and the director have established.
The costume designer works in tandem with the Director, the actor and the stunt director. The costume dept has to make sure everything an actor wears is comfortable enough to be able to act, move, and do whatever stunts they have to: whether it’s simple jeans and t-shirt or a more elaborate costume. Usually an actor will specify what they feel, find comfortable etc. when we do fittings and various LOOK TESTS for the director of photography, photo still, and camera tests.
With SRK, we had no such restriction or refusals. He was only afraid to wear slim tight pants, but I soon changed his mind about slimmer silhouettes and more fitted clothes. He looks stunning in the film and the best he has ever looked.
“What inspired you to take fashion design as a career?”
Well, I was on my way to studying Architecture, and suddenly realized “Do I really want to build buildings?” And thought NO! So decided upon Fashion as it seemed more exciting, fast evolving and far more glamourous, which I have eventually realized to be so true!
Thankfully I took the right steps and changed studies and eventually my career path.
What/who inspires you to design costumes the way you do?
I have an extensive background in Fashion Design from various different fashion houses that I have worked with. Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Givenchy and more. I did my Masters in Fashion at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London. I have the training both in Design and the technical aspects of cut and form and manufacture. All this and my exposure to the world, and its wonderful inspiration, allows me to bring an international eye to Indian cinema.
I grew up in London, lived in Paris and now New York, so my perspective on all forms of design is very international, which helps me when I have to make a film look as chic and sophisticated as Don 2.
What’s the difference between a costume designer and a fashion designer?
A costume designer is visualizing a character that a writer, director or scriptwriter has dreamt up. We make the written word into a visual form for actors, the director and eventually the audience to digest easily.
A fashion designer creates his own character which is more like a fantasy figure or a muse. This character can be fashion forward, avante garde or whatever he chooses to express. There vision is to sell beautiful clothes to make people fashionable and forward thinking.
Any plans of starting a fashion label?
Yes I guess eventually. My background is fashion so ultimately, I would not want to lose touch with that sensibility that I have so much experience in.
Favorite all time styles, get ups, costumes in Bollywood – Old movies/new movies ?
My favorite all time old Bollywood movies: Pakeeza and Umrao Jaan (the original one)
New: I liked Om Shanti Om and Jodhaa Akhbar.
All time old Hollywood films: Grease is a favorite and so is Gentlemen prefer Blondes, with Marilyn Munroe.
New: I love costume films and anything Tim Burton does.
Where do you see yourself after 5 years? 10 years?
I hope that I will still be doing amazing cinema. I have been fortunate enough to start at the top end in Bollywood with films like Chandni Chowk to China, Patiala House, Game and now Don 2. Having worked with all the top actors, I feel very privileged. I hope to have worked with all the actors in bollywood by then!
After Don 2, what’s next on your plate?
A much needed rest!
Thank you Jaimal, for a very warm and open interview. That too for a relatively lesser known blog. It was extremely nice and humble of you.
You are most welcome, Prateek.