Rekhs column on costumer Baahubali - Rama Rajamouli


A big warm special ‘HI’ to my readers of TWR, it has been a while but write I must of my experience of subtitling the South Indian film that’s the Talk of the World now ‘Baahubali – II (The Conclusion)


I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from 7 Images Das asking me to subtitle this epic saga, God’s will for sure. I also have a close circle of friends to thank in the industry who rooted for me! My team member Harini and Venky from A.P.International and I landed in Prasad Lab with eagerness overflowing to start our task. I use the word ‘task’ and not ‘work’ because task indeed it was, 3 languages, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. 15 reels in each language, (1A, 1B up to 14) around 24 songs, including the small fillers in 21 days or even less. Then we were working on the corrections and add ons.


The world should know about this woman’s labor of love for the costumes of Baahubali.


I must state here, the entire family who have put in their very best should be applauded, a standing ovation, you bet! Of course, besides the captain of the ship we all know and admire Shri S.S.Rajamouli and the music director Shri Keeravani his cousin, the other pillars are Shri Keeravani’s sons Bhairava and Simha. Bairava’s robust voice you can hear in ‘Oka praanam’ and the haunting ‘Dandaalayya’ while Simha worked as the Asst Director.  SSR’s son Karthikeya donned the cap as director of the 2nd unit. Mrs Keeravani, Valli, is the line producer and an able administrator, her sister Rama who is Mrs Rajamouli is the celebrity of this ‘Talkie With Rekhs’


I was talking to Valli, I think the 2nd day of subtitling and I said, ‘Valli, please tell the costume designer he/she has done a fantabulous job, especially with the attention to detailing’. She smiled and said, ‘my sister Rama is the designer for the whole film’. I must also state here, we have come across many spouses of directors/producers who do so, without hands-on experience or academic qualifications. But not Rama! She has been working in all her husband’s films from Sye (2004) onwards. I spoke to her at length and I was amazed at how practical, genuinely humble and confident a person she comes across.


It took Rama 10 months of pre-production, to think, discuss with the director, DoP, art director, her assistants, to plan, do ample research before reaching the stage of designing the costumes and seeing them take shape according to the dictates of her heart and mind. No mean task, I swear! They even planned the back story of each and every character, so you can imagine the extent of hours spent on inputs and homework.  The costumes, besides adhering to the period, genre, texture, textiles etc, Rama also took the trouble of studying the body language and structure of all the main artistes. For instance the way the sari is draped on Queen Mother Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) is a combination of 3 different styles, unified into a unique pattern to give her the regal look and maintain the traditional image. It is mind boggling to even think of a 30 day schedule at a stretch, to design the costumes for every single person, let alone fructify the same on the sets. Maintaining the color, tone keeping with the mood and backdrop is a stupendous task for sure. The war costumes alone, including the armor and accessories were rehearsed not once or twice, but 10 times.


Comfort of the actor, whether he was riding a horse, fighting on the ground, brandishing swords was of utmost importance. Innovations were made as and when required, for example the netted chains as a protective shield to neck and ears. Prashanthi who designed the jewelry needs special mention too.


In the Krishna song, Devasena (Anushka) is clad in a rich green skirt, blue blouse, orange half sari while all other dancers wear a light beige half sari with a green border to be aesthetically well coordinated. The tiny ‘jumki’ chandeliers on Anushka’s ears is a special treat and I dare say our dear Devasena carries it with élan. Baahubali (Prabhas) wears a dark blue vest that goes with the indirect hint of him being Devasena’s Lord Krishna!


The deep pink and red attire of Prabhas for the 3-arrows scene in which he teaches Anushka is planned with such foresight ’cos his scene continuity is this young man grappling bulls’ horns. That is a night shot and the same attire gives it a ‘stand apart’ touch. So the designer has to think ahead for difference in lighting and situation.


My all-time favorite is the swan boat song. Every time I saw it (while subtitling, which isn’t even with the final VFX in place) I found a new layer to the efforts by the skilled duo, Rama and Prashanthi.
Don’t miss the beautiful golden anklet as Anushka steps on Prabhas’s shoulder to get into the boat in a violet dress which is so well coordinated with his peacock blue vest. Then change of costumes to orange and fuchsia, oh! Trust me, you can watch this film for this song alone, how many ever times!


Don’t miss the jewelry on the back of her hand when she clasps Prabhas’s hand in the wedding scene. A thing of beauty is a joy forever indeed to steal a line from Keats.


I can go on and on, endlessly, but the word constraint here stops me. I would like this to be an interesting learning curve for not only upcoming fashion designers but also producers and directors. Let us follow the method adhered to, world over of ONE costume designer for an entire film. Not have 1 for the hero, another for the heroine, a costumer for the rest, you can see your eyes blink rapidly in revulsion more than a few times when the colors clash in rebellion.


Rama, you can take a bow, along with your team for having given with all your might your bit to this epic saga the world is rejoicing I mean, a royal curtsy!


I would not be surprised at all if you were the recipient of the nat’nal award next year for ‘Best Costume Designer’ for Baahubali…may God and Lady Luck smile on you in every endeavor of yours, dear:)

A big hi 5 to women empowerment, until the next, ‘sendruvarugiraen’ (see you)


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