Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor Khan, AR Rahman, Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are just few names in the long list of stars that Mumbai-based Meher Ahmed has styled.
The recent addition is her work in Bhaskar Hazarika directorial Aamis in which she has styled Lima Das who plays the character of Nirmali, a married paediatrician.
To make the character authentic, Ahmed took the challenge of ageing the costumes and even looking out for pre-used ones along with gaining an in-depth knowledge of the traditional Assamese Mekhela Sador.
To understand more about the intricacies of the job, we talked to the stylist herself.
What was Bhaskar Hazarika’s brief to Nirmali and how did you go about it?
After reading the script I listed a questionnaire of sorts for all the characters and discussed with Bhaskar to visualise each character better.
Once the brief for the look and feel Bhaskar wanted was clear, I had the complete freedom to execute his vision in my own way. I wanted to keep the look and feel of Aamis as real as possible.
Most of the clothes were aged or pre-used in order to have a more realistic version. I used to have a small set up, a corner of sorts in the Metanormal office to only get clothes aged.
What about your styling helped to build Nirmali’s look and personality?
Nirmali as a character is a modern-day working woman who is also well rooted to her culture. Bhaskar wanted this to be the central point of her look, so most of the look was in Mekhela Sador (an indigenous traditional Assamese dress) which Lima Ba was very comfortable wearing.
We also see her in regular wear and in dresses. Her personality and look is more classic and muted than jazzy or bright colours.
Also it’s very important to understand how the film is being shot. Together with Bhaskar and Riju, our DOP, we sat and discussed on the overall look and feel of the film and depending on that Nirmali’s colours were decided.
What emerged out of this discussion was to have a very subtle change in Nirmali’s colour, clothes and even the colour of the lipstick as the film progresses to better showcase her state of mind.
These are very minute nuances but it is equally important to have them as an element of visualisation.
You have managed to represent the tradition of Mekhela Sador – colours, weaves and more – to the T. Tell us about the process.
It was very important to keep Nirmali’s clothes as realistic as possible and close to the Northeastern culture.
So most of her Mekhela Sadors have been sourced from people and not bought to give a more used feel. A brand new one can make the character look fake. So, in the film you see Nirmali not just in the Mekhela Sador but also in an Arunachali Sarong called Gaale that she wears as home clothes in few scenes.
She even wears Bamboo Chignon, very commonly used in Assam along with simple traditional Assamese jewellery for her everyday wear.
There’s a notion outside Assam that Mekhela Sador is only formal wear, which is not true. And through Nirmali I could get that whole picture out there.
Mekhela Sadors are woven in cotton and part silk for everyday wear too and that’s what is shown beautifully through Nirmali’s character.
Different tribes of Assam have their own signature weaves. Some of her Mekhelas are from Mishing and Miri tribes.
On dressing up Lima…
When I first met Lima Ba, any missing links about Nirmali in my head connected instantly. Working with her was fun since she’s open to experimentation.
One of my most cherished look is what I made for her dream sequence. Although it was a costume designer’s dream getting shattered as it was barely seen. Seeing Lima Ba transform easily into so many different personalities was a delight.