Interview Team : Jyothsna

Costumer Sathya NJ’s story could be straight from one of those motivational books. Belonging to Devipattinam in Ramanathapuram district, this young boy followed his passion of costume designing which had landed him in the glamour world of Tamil cinema.

Sathya has done around 26 films and has dressed Vijay and Nainika in the Raangu number in Theri and also Amy Jackson in the film. He will be the costumer for Vijay 60. In an interesting chat with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Sathya talks about his journey, his craze for Vijay, his first compliment from Ajith, dressing sense in actors and much more.


Early days and the Vijay craze

I was always observant of Vijay sir’s costumes

I am from Devipattinam in Ramanathapuram district. The school where I studied will let students wear color dress on Fridays alone and all of us used to plan for this from Monday onwards. We were  all fans of Vijay sir and used to copy his dressing style. It was during the time of Thirupachi when for the song ‘Kannum Kannum Dhaan Kalandachu’, he wore jeans, red T shirt and a white belt. I was so keen to wear it on one of the Fridays. I could source everything but the white belt. I did not know what to do and finally managed to paint my black belt in white and wore on that Friday.  That’s when I realized my interest in costumes. You can say, that was the start of my present career.

I was always observant of Vijay sir’s costumes in all his films, be it in his songs or in other portions. So, people felt that a course related to costumes would be apt for me. For my graduation, I enrolled in PSG College, Coimbatore where I completed Costume Design and Fashion.



I am basically a cricket player. When I was 14 years, I had come to Chennai for a cricket camp and in the evenings, I took up dance classes from a teacher who used to work for Lawrence Master. Seeing my interest in dancing, he suggested that I come back to him during summer holidays. So in my 11th vacation, I again came to him and enrolled in dance classes. He took me to many film celebs and T Rajendar sir was one of them. Of course TR sir advised me to complete my basic education and then only enter film industry.

In one of my cricket coaching camps, a fellow camper, after seeing my dance during the evenings, had introduced me to his cameraman dad Srinivasan (TV serials). He was much encouraging and asked me to see him in Chennai whenever I came in.


Chennai entry

My interest to join films was so much that on the day of completing my graduation, I had sent my luggage home through my brother and I straight away came to Chennai with just 2 contacts in hand, one was Mr. Srinivasan and the other a friend from Mannady.


Entry into films

Srinivasan took me to Vasuki Bhaskar and I joined her as an apprentice. Then later I had worked with designers Nithya & Rafiq and Chaitanya Rao. I am a quick learner and was involved in many commercials too. One of the cameramen from such commercials saw my work and referred me to director Vasanth for Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal which is my first film as a costumer.


Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal

Working in Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal was equal to working in ten films

Working in Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal was equal to working in ten films. The experience was such. We were shooting in a village near Muttom. A scene required Cheran to approach a girl’s house with a marriage proposal with a saree. Shooting was to begin at 9 am and Vasanth sir told me that he needed a box of either Chennai silks or Pothys to keep the saree for the shot. It was a village and to travel to the town and get the box would easily take 3-4 hours.  But Vasanth sir was very insistent about the box. I hardly had any time. Then I came up with an idea of visiting fairly upper class marriage halls and houses in the village asking for the saree box. Most of them had only a local brand box. Somehow, after repeated attempt, I finally got the box. It was an unforgettable experience.


Other projects

Yaaruda Mahesh, Onbadhula Guru, Jigarthanda (Siddharth and Bobby Simhaa), Naiyaandi, Bhramman, Maan Karate.


Maan Karate, Raja Rani, Theri and Vijay 60

It’s a little challenging to do costumes for Nazriya

Maan Karate is an important film in my career in many aspects. And this paved way for bigger projects. I have done around 26 films till now.

Surya Balakumaran worked with me in Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal and later he became an AD in Raja Rani. He was the one who referred me to Atlee. I thank him for that.

In Raja Rani, I dressed Nazriya and Santhanam. Raja Rani got me Theri (Nainika and Amy Jackson and Vijay in Raangu number) and Theri got me Vijay 60.

As I had worked with Nazriya in Naiyyandi, we had a good rapport in Raja Rani too. It’s a little challenging to do costumes for Nazriya as she would not wear sleeveless or tight or revealing dresses. We cannot try anything cinematic for her.


Vijay 60

I am dressing Vijay sir in Vijay 60. We have just begun. First schedule will be for two days and the next one will be extended.


Theri working experience

You may have seen the stills of Amy Jackson in the film. Whether it is good or bad is secondary, but you would realize that it will be an all new look for the actress as our aim was to show her in a different avatar. We were keen that her ‘foreign’ look should not surface anywhere. When you see the film, you will realize that.


The ‘Raangu’ look for Vijay

We have tried a lot of Indo-Western on Vijay

In this song we have tried a lot of Indo-Western on Vijay. For his pants, we had made them in a Telugu style with ‘kacham’ with a jacket as top; shoes will be hip-hop. Vijay sir got impressed with my work in the song which fetched me his next film.


Fanboy of Vijay

I organize FDFS for Vijay sir’s films

I am a huge fan of Vijay sir and also a member of his fan club. I organize FDFS for Vijay sir’s films. I had talked about this in a magazine and I showed the article to him and he patiently read everything. He was very happy, hugged and wished me. I told him that my life time ambition was to do the costumes for him which had come true with that song.


Jiiva, Jayam Ravi, Vijay Antony and Vijay Sethupathi

For the first time, Vijay Sethupathi will look like a hero

Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae is my second movie with Jiiva sir as I had dressed him in Pokkiri Raja too. It is a delight to work with him. If designers get someone like Jiiva sir, they can implement their ideas freely. He completely hands over the responsibility to you and would be keen that he feels comfortable in his costumes.

I did Romeo Juliet for Jayam Ravi which received a positive result for that film. I had showcased him in a local as well as hi-fi avatar. I am happy that I will be dressing him in Bogan too.


I am working with Vijay Antony for the first time in Yeman. I am also working on the looks of Vijay Sethupathi for Rekka. Photoshoot is over and you will all get to see an all new Vijay Sethupathi in this film. For the first time, he will look like a hero.


You are a hard core Vijay fan. Would you dress Ajith?

Of course, I will. That is professional. If not as a fan, I will definitely work with him as a technician.


Ajith is someone who looks naturally stylish. So, how would you work on him?

I will go only by the script. One cannot work on the aspects that are not needed for the script, the maximum that you can maneuver around is in the songs.


First recognition from Ajith sir

My first recognition came from Ajith sir through Sivakarthikeyan

My first recognition came from Ajith sir. I was working in Sarathkumar’s Sandamarudham, when Sivakarthikeyan called and said, “Would you like to hear a compliment in the celebrity voice itself?” And he mimicked Ajith sir’s voice.


In Maan Karate, there is a scene when Sivakarthikeyan after fixing the puncture for Hansika’s vehicle, will come in a yellow shirt with blue color V neck T. Apparently Ajith had liked the costume and had wanted to know who the stylist was. He had told Sivakarthikeyan about this when he met him in his house. Siva had shared this even in one of his shows.


Who do you think are the best dressed artists in the industry now?

Suriya sir and Nayanthara ma'am are the best dressed

Suriya sir. He takes a humongous effort on his costumes. He takes that extra care to be unique. The way he carries himself is awesome. Ajith sir looks the best in his suits and is a natural.   

In heroines, it is always Nayanthara. In Yaaradi Nee Mohini, she would have rocked the looks both as a traditional girl as well as a modern professional. In Billa, Nayan was in her best elements. Suriya and Nayanthara can adapt themselves in all kinds of looks and look good in them. Samantha and Kajal Agarwal are good when it comes to the selection of their costumes.


Sivakarthikeyan always wants to dress as casual as possible. He does not feel comfortable with suits.


What kind of films would you want to work?

I would like to work in a period film where there will be lots to learn and explore.  Pre-production work is more in such films.


Your future plans?

As I had told you, I have played cricket  very religiously and sincerely and with pride, I would like to say that I have even played with Ashwin Ravichander.  The world knows him as a bowler, but he was actually a batsman to start with.  I have kept wicket for Ashwin. During my cricket camps, I have played with Ashwin, Badrinath, Balaji and many others.

My parents always wanted to see me as a cricket player. But of course, I am doing well with my chosen profession now. But, I am also looking at options to play in CCL to fulfill my parent’s dreams. There are certain conditions to qualify to play in CCL, one should have completed 7 films with a screen time of at least 10 minutes. As of now I have acted in Jeeva and also Vetrivel. If I do few more films, then I will be qualified to play in CCL.



Through this interview, I would like to thank my parents. In 2006, engineering was the fad. Even then, my parents supported me big time to become a cricketer. We are from village and to fare well in this profession, it needs a lot of support and cooperation from family which I get in abundance. My parents have always helped me pursue my dreams. My mom was the one who discovered my talent in sketching and brought the designer out from me. No words will express my thanks to them.

My brother Karthik Raj although has a family in the village, has left everything to be with me in Chennai and support. I can with pride say that he is my backbone. My anni is also very supportive and would always speak high of me in the village. They also keep banner for me for every film of mine.


That was an interesting chat Sathya!


We wish you the best!


Jyothsna Bhavanishankar


Tags : Sathya NJ, Theri, Vijay



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