Vishal Bhardwaj, who earlier explored the badlands of western Uttar Pradesh for “Omkara”, wanted a rustic Haryana setting for his new film “Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola” and set costume designer Payal Saluja on the job. And what an image change it turned out to be for its stars Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma.
Khan has turned into a Haryana boy, complete with full beard, earrings and muscles. And Sharma, marked for her Punjabi image, wears a grungy look.
Bhardwaj was clear in his directive, says Saluja. “He wanted an authentic Haryana flavour in the look of the film.”
It was a challenge given the cast.
“Imran has an urban look and image. We had to add a rustic flavour. Vishal didn’t want a raw-looking protagonist since he wanted to show the character as educated and well-travelled. So we worked around a modern rustic look for Imran,” said Saluja.
For his character, Imran was made to wear a ‘khamiz’, the tunic worn by men in the region. He was given a ‘gamcha’, the handy scarf slung across the shoulders. He also sported a heavily bearded look during the shoot and went out of his way to get his ears pierced to wear ‘murki’ (gold earrings worn by men in the region).
The usually lean Khan beefed up to play Matru. The fair-skinned actor was also given a natural tan to become what Saluja likes to describe as a “sexy rustic man”.
“Imran was accommodating. He wanted to get comfortable with the accessories and used to wear them and the costume even after the shoot. The look is not caricaturish, and he carried it all naturally,” said Saluja, who earlier worked with Bhardwaj on “Saat Khoon Maaf”, “Ishqiya” and “Maqbool”.
Sharma’s look required some mix and match. “For one sequence, we got a ‘desi ghaghra’ made. It is traditional and its ‘ghera’ was made out of 26 metres of cloth. The ghaghra, made by locals, was heavy, and despite Anushka’s tiny waist, she used to wear it happily,” she said.
When so much work goes into designing looks and wardrobe for the cast, the budget has to be big.
Bhardwaj was kind with the budget, says Saluja, refusing to divulge any figures.
“Vishal understands costume well. He takes a lot of interest in each department, and so it is satisfying to work with him,” she said.
The film is expected to be released January.