Sanju stylist Eka Lakhani on recreating Sanjay Dutt's style evolution through Ranbir Kapoor's costumes

Surendhar MK

June 30, 2018 11:20:00 IST

Costume stylist Eka Lakhani, known for her work in films such as Haseena Parkar, Kaatru Veliyidai, and Ok Kanmani to name a few, has designed the costumes of the entire cast in filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju, which hit the theatres on 29 June.

Read: Sanju movie review: Ranbir Kapoor is superb, but what a startlingly dishonest Sanjay Dutt biopic this is

In an exclusive chat with Firstpost, Eka Lakhani talks about the challenges of working in a biopic, shuttling between Mumbai and Chennai frequently for her projects and the collective effort behind the transformation of Ranbir Kapoor to Sanjay Dutt.

"We worked with professionals, and everyone has done their part of homework thoroughly to bring Sanjay Dutt on-screen. With Rajkumar sir's imagination, Ranbir's dedication and Ravi Varman sir's skill with lens and lighting, we had to match up with the expertise they brought in," Lakhani told Firstpost.

Poster for Sanju

Poster for Sanju

"There will always be a session with the cinematographer, and if it is Ravi sir or Mani sir's film, it is a mandatory session. I know his working style pretty well. So I know the colours he would like to play along with. We even had colour themes devised for every phase of Sanjay Dutt's life in the biopic," said Lakhani, who had earlier worked with Ravi Varman in Mani Ratnam's Kaatru Veliyidai in 2017.

Asked about the most challenging part of working in a biopic, Lakhani said, "One specific challenge is that the audience already has known this person and they have an image in their mind. So whatever we do to bring that person on-screen should match with what they have in their mind. If our work makes them think that they are seeing someone else on the screen, they would feel cheated.

"For a biopic, we have references, a real character's persona. In our case, it is Sanjay Dutt — a superstar, portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor — another superstar. So our constant effort was to ensure that the audience doesn't see Ranbir but Sanjay on screen. If the wardrobe is replete with costumes like Sanjay Dutt would wear, but Ranbir doesn't know to carry them off, then it is going to fall flat. That is why everyone had our study," she explained.

Did Ranbir Kapoor provide any inputs about his costumes? Pat came the reply: "It was a group effort, and I am not a person who wants no one to interfere in my territory. Because Raju sir is so close to Sanjay Dutt, and so is Ranbir. So their insights would be valuable. Only when the crew unanimously likes what is being done, the audience will also feel the same way. "

Also read: Sanju: Ranbir Kapoor is flawless in Rajkumar Hirani's Bollywood-ised biopic of Sanjay Dutt

Talking about working with Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, and Manisha Koirala, Lakhani said, "I have worked with Anushka in the past, and she is a sincere actor. She gives the liberty of doing whatever I want to do. Reconnecting with her after NH10 felt good. Sonam Kapoor is a style icon, and I look up to her in many ways, and that made me feel unsure about how I can put forth my ideas. But my ideas blended well with hers and it was total fun designing her character. She is not a diva but has a girl next door image, and we had to choose delicate fabrics and designs for her role."

Does Eka have a favourite look of Ranbir Kapoor as Sanju in the film? She recalled a particular scene from the movie: "All the works are my favourite. But the way Ranbir changed to Sanjay and Manisha mam turned to Nargis were so phenomenal. I just loved the transition when Manisha mam stepped out of her room post the costume and makeover. It was breathtaking and like a déjà vu of having Nargis ji before us. We all were in awe when she walked in front of us."

While everyone is familiar with Sanjay Dutt's on-screen image, Lakhani says it was quite difficult to gather inputs on his off-screen persona. "Rajkumar Hirani is so familiar with Sanjay in person. But having said that we couldn't take complete reference from his off-screen image. What most people know is his on-screen image. So we had used a lot of his on-screen looks. It was after the release of his film Rocky that the public got to know his on-screen personality. So to portray the events before Rocky's release, we used references from his old photographs," said Lakhani.

Ranbir Kapoor in the new Sanju teaser. Image from YouTube

Ranbir Kapoor in the new Sanju teaser. Image from YouTube

She further added, "Sanjay is from a very famous family, so there was a lot of pictures of him available for us to refer to — the kind of shirts, boots, the jewellery he wore or the way he rode his Harley Davidson. Sanjay Dutt's style has changed a lot over the years. Whatever happened in his personal life did affect him and his style."

Lakhani says it's a blessing to be part of this ambitious project. "Just like everyone else I too have grown up watching Sanjay Dutt's movies and him on the news. Also, I know Ranbir Kapoor. So the moment Ranbir transformed into Sanjay Dutt, it was quite unbelievable. To witness everything and to be a part of this project was seriously a blessing," she stated.

Among her forthcoming projects include Taapsee Pannu, Diljit Dosanjh's Soorma and Mani Ratnam's Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. Talking about her long-standing relationship with Ratnam's Madras Talkies, Lakhani said, "I started as a costume assistant in Mani sir's Raavan a decade back and he gave me my first break. I regularly shuttle between South and North throughout the year. I have seen the best of both worlds. I always think that I have been in the right place and at the right time to get discovered by these people. I have travelled with him for ten years, and I have been working independently for a while for Mani sir. Madras Talkies is my home."

On a concluding note, Lakhani said, "Chekka Chivantha Vaanam has a brilliant cast, and we had a lot of fun doing this film. Be it Arun Vijay or Arvind sir, every actor brings something new to the table."

Updated Date: Jun 30, 2018 11:20 AM