Dressing up characters

Amrita Prasad
Monday, 11 September 2017

We chat up city-based youngster Harsha Zambazi who is designing costumes for an untitled Marathi film. She talks about the difference between designing for a show and a film, the challenges and her takeaway from the experience

Costume designing is looking beyond the realms of fashion and style — it is designing for the character and seamlessly making the outfits a part of who the person is. A costume designer defines the looks of the characters keeping in mind their nature, emotions, moods, cultural and economical background, all in accordance with the storyline. City-based young designer Harsha Zambazi, who studied at FAD International, is currently busy designing costumes for an upcoming untitled Marathi film.

Zambani who has always been inclined towards fashion, hadn’t designed clothes for a regional film. “Working as a costume designer for my first regional feature film by a National Awardee  director for his debut film was never on my mind. Since the right opportunity knocked, there wasn’t a second thought about this, I had to grab it. It’s a totally different ballgame compared to working as a fashion designer and overall a wonderful experience,” says the 27-year-old founder-director of Zambani by Harsha.

The job
What differentiates a fashion designer from a costume designer and what does it take to be a costume designer, we ask her. “Patience and a lot of hard work and being true to your work, come what may. One has to be on one’s toes on the set. It’s not at all just glitters and feathers,” she says.

Each outfit created and styled for the actors has to be very much a part of what the actor looks like, how s/he thinks, walks or talks. A costume designer is required to dig into the plot and character to dress them the best so that the costume becomes a part of the story-telling. Says Zambani, “When you are doing costumes for a film, it’s a lot different than what you do for fashion shows. Considering the culture of the period, and factors like the mood of the scene and the requirement of the story, the look of a character is designed. As for research, I think it’s endless. In my opinion, beauty lies in the minutest of details so it’s never-ending, you come across new things every time you start digging into it.”

As a fashion designer, you have ample freedom to give shape and form to your ideas and creativity, but as a costume designer, often you are bound by the storyline, the demand of the director and keeping the actors’ tastes and preferences in mind. Talking about the challenges,

Zambani says, “Well, I am still counting them, but it is motivating. It is an entirely new experience and everyday, the new challenging situation teaches me something new. Whether doing costumes for a film or doing a fashion show, it’s not just about glitz and glamour. The biggest challenge is to stay in synchronisation with the team and be on the same page considering everyone’s perspective. Mostly because it is a huge team of all the creative souls around, one has to match the storyline, period setting, set design/art direction, directors vision, audience expectations and practicalities of the production.”

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