The designer won the award for Best Costume Design at the prestigious 68th National Film Awards
Nachiket and Kajol
Designer Nachiket Barve won the award for Best Costume Design at the prestigious 68th National Film Awards, for Om Raut's Tanhaji: The unsung warrior, featuring actors like Ajay Devgn and Kajol. Nachiket launched his eponymous label in 2010 and has been among the celebrated designers of the Indian fashion industry ever since.
What was your immediate reaction when you heard about winning the National award?
It was a bolt from the blue! I was in the middle of prepping for my new collection for my label. Suddenly I got a call from director Om Raut saying ‘Congratulations.’ And I said ‘For what?’ that’s when he informed me I’ve won the National award. I was very happy because the film and Ajay Devgn got an award too, it was a triple celebration. The idea is to do good authentic work but an award like this which is the highest in the field and across the country is a special honour. I was happy for the team, there were hundreds of people who worked behind it. I’m a stickler for authenticity. There was two years of research involved. I harrowed people and got textiles from the archives. Right from armour to jewelry, attention was paid to detail. Luckily, we found a family in Kolhapur who used to make jewelry when Shivaji Maharaj was there. They had 400 year old moulds kept, we crafted jewelry from that. I was clear that we wouldn’t do stitched pagris and saris, everything had to be draped. There was an army of people to put these things together.
How did you get interested in costume design?
My costume design career happened in a luck by chance way. My first stint with costume design happened a decade ago. Jaya Bachchan, who I dress in personal life as well, asked me to do a brand shoot for a jewelry ad for Mr Bachchan and her. That was the first time I stepped on a set. To work with actors of that caliber and vintage was a real learning experience. Then Subodh Bhave called me out of the blue for his directorial debut ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusali.’ I said ‘why me’ because I hadn’t thought of costume design. That got vastly appreciated and won me the state award, Zee award and many others. Meanwhile, Om called me and by that time I was open to doing costumes but I wanted to work with a director who understands how costumes elevate a film. Costumes hinge on the script, director’s vision, actors who breathe life into the clothes and the creative vision that the designer brings.
How was it working with the cast especially Kajol since she has a Maharashtrian background too...
Kajol had only worn Nauvari saris before at her own wedding. Seeing Kajol come on set and get excited about dressing up is an unexpected phenomenon. I was told she usually would just say get on with such a thing. Saif Ali Khan took me home and showed me pieces from his ancestral jewelry in case we wanted to use any for his character. He wore one of his own rings in the film as a personal touch. Ajay was so quiet, understated and patient because for a period film everything has to be made from head to toe. I met Sharad Kelkar a day ago and he said the best compliment he got is that he looked just liked what people have seen in textbooks. That is an added responsibility while dealing with legendary characters. Luke Kenny also looked like Aurangzeb, usually you see the Mughals dripping in embroidery but he was a hostile man, so it wasn’t overblown.