Designer Salim Asgarally shares with our readers, exclusive sketches and talks extensively about the costumes he’s designed from scratch for Randeep Hooda in Mein Aur Charles.
The Bollywood film, which releases on 30th October, is a much-awaited biopic on the notorious criminal and mass murderer, Charles Sobhraj.
Over to Salim…
His Style Closet: What was your brief for Randeep’s look?
Salim Asgarally: Working with a sensitive filmmaker like Prawaal Raman was a pleasure as he understood the relevance of correct costuming to defining the look of the film. The film based on the observations of Amod Kant, the investigating officer in the Charles case, traces the life of Charles Sobhraj from the 70’s to the 90’s, as such the costumes needed to be in accordance for each decade.
We decided on avoiding caricature and have kept the look as real as possible, intentionally avoiding the much overdone polka dots and bright colors which was otherwise so typical of other films depicting that era. Also the color palette was chosen with much care…sand, sky blue, creams, grey, and browns ruled so as to give the canvas of the film an even and interesting texture.
For Randeep’s look Prawaal needed him to look , a man who had travelled the world and could easily bait any woman he fancied. As such, the look needed to be masculine, stylish, period and color correct.
HSC: What were the difficulties you had in putting the look together?
SA: Since the look was based on the 70’s to the 90’s, it was important that not only should the colors and styles be right but also the texture of the costumes should come through on the screen so that the reality quotient is maintained.
This meant using fabrics that were popular in that period. The suitings and other fabrics had to be sourced and chosen with great care. For instance, choosing the correct checks and stripes for Randeep’s suits and jackets that are not only stylish but look period and stay with the chosen color pallette. As I was dressing all the main characters of the film including Aadil Hussain and Richa Chadda, it was also important that each character is dressed correctly to play their part without overshadowing the other.
Certain fabrics like double knits which were used a lot then are not available any longer and so I actually sourced and found a supplier who had an old lot of the fabric in his godown at Bhiwandi which we managed to retrieve.
Jeans were tailored as opposed to buying them ready made so that we get the fabrics and side stitching just as it was in the 70’s. All accessories, including footwear and cufflinks, were screened to ensure they remained relevant to that time period. The T-shirts sourced had to fit in with the kind worn then and had to have not only the right colors but also the feel and texture, which made sourcing them, much harder.
Also the glasses, that are so integral to his look as Charles, are actually old frames fitted with new lenses that my team sourced from a shopkeeper that specialises in vintage spectacles as nothing remotely modern would do !
HSC: Tell us some fun incident on the set with Randeep?
SA: Randeep on the sets was very steeped in his character and sported his beret and jackets for many days before actual shooting commenced, practising his accent, walk and talk as Charles. It was a pleasure working with a person who is an actor at heart and loves his craft.
HSC: What kind of research did you have to do for Randeep’s looks?
SA: Besides reading up on the Charles case and going through all the pictures of his which are available on the net, me and my team spent many days watching old films from that era and discussing the looks portrayed, studying the colors, textures and styles, before freezing the look we wanted.
From the shape and size of collars, bell bottom flares, the width of lapels and ties were noted and changing them depending on the time frame of the scene such as broader bottoms for the 70’s & 80’s and more bootleg in the 90’s. Magazines and periodicals like The Illustrated Weekly of India and old issues of the Time magazine were looked up in libraries as they are not available on the net. We even went through old fashion catalogues and family pictures of that era (courtesy of friends and family) to get the look correct. We did not even stop at raiding the wardrobes and trunks of some of my uncles and aunts to get our hands on actual suits, trousers, ties (one of the ties sported by Randeep in the film is actually my dad’s which he wore at that time) and jeans so that we can get a first hand look at the feel and weave of the fabrics.