Neeta Lulla: Can't change history to make costumes look different

Updated: Nov 12, 2019, 08:33 IST | Shaheen Parkar | Mumbai

Panipat designer Neeta Lulla says styling similarities with Bajirao Mastani inevitable as both films set in the same era

(From left) Arjun Kapoor in Panipat; Ranveer Singh in Bajirao Mastani
(From left) Arjun Kapoor in Panipat; Ranveer Singh in Bajirao Mastani

When it comes to styling for his period dramas, filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker invariably turns to designer Neeta Lulla. This time around, the couturier's services were called upon as the director wanted to narrate the story of Panipat. "When I am working with Gowariker, I am not a costume designer, but a costume technician. He gives you a lot of freedom. Working on a historical involves reading the script several times to understand the characters. You are dressing the characters, and not actors," explains Lulla, who worked closely with the leads — Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Kriti Sanon.

As soon as the trailer of the film — based on the third battle of Panipat — dropped online, netizens pointed out that the styling seemed heavily borrowed from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani (2015). "Panipat is set in the same era as Bajirao Mastani. So, how do I change the references? Sadashivrao Bhau [Kapoor's character] is the nephew of Bajirao Peshwa. Parvati Bai [Sanon's character] is Sadashivrao's wife. I cannot change history to make the costumes look different."

Neeta Lulla with Kriti Sanon
Neeta Lulla with Kriti Sanon

To create Kapoor's look as the commander-in-chief of the Maratha army, Lulla sourced fabrics from across the country. "We were shooting in the heat and the armour that he wears weighed a ton, but there was no way he could get rid of it," she says, adding that she enjoyed curating Sanon's warrior queen look. "We picked up sarees from Kolhapur and Pune, and then I mixed [the prints] and re-stitched them. We added special touches to her hairdo by way of clips that bore figures of birds and butterflies."

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