Glam loook Face: Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15, Foundation in NC 37, Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder, Select Moisturecover Concealer – Yellow Corrector, Select Moisturecover Concealer in NC23, Mineralize Skinfinish Powder in Dark Eyes: Eyeshadows in Brown Down and Embark (used on eyebrows) Lips: Lip Pencil in Plum. Image Credit: Supplied picture

When it comes to meeting someone like Mickey Contractor, butterflies tend to go a bit crazy in the stomach. The guy is nothing short of a genius and I have seen him work his make-up magic on Bollywood beauties. But as I shake hands with him and his affable personality shines through, the butterflies suddenly settle down. For the interview it helps that he needs to take a break and head for some fresh air and I need him away from the crowds to talk to him, so we walk out of the MAC store in The Dubai Mall to a quiet spot outside. In his friendly, chatty style, Contractor talks about MAC's new collection named after him as a tribute to his 32-year stint in the world of Hindi films. We also got him to answer a dozen questions on the ever-elusive art of make-up and its many nitty gritties. 

1. What's for Arab and Indian women in your new MAC make-up collection?

When designing this collection, I kept in mind the many similarities among the women from the two regions. Arab women are extremely fair, so are North Indian women. Both Arab and Indian women have dark hair and love dramatic eye make-up. Plus they have skin that has a yellow undertone. While devising the colour palette, I kept their dark tresses and skin tones in mind. Having said that, I believe the colours in this range work their magic on anyone, not just Arab and Indian women. These colours not only flatter the skin but also create an illusion of a perfect skin due to their tints of colour. You don't have to be a professional to use these colours, just about any woman can use them.

2. How can every woman look as good as the celebs?

In real life, even movie stars have imperfect looks. They have someone like me always chasing them and correcting their make-up (to make them look flawlessly beautiful). I think it would be weird for a woman in real life to be chased 24x7 by a make-up artist. Celebrity make-up is overt make-up and it would be odd for a woman who's not a celeb to wear that look in everyday life. It is better she be inspired by the celeb trends and do her thing.

3. Can you give some examples of stars whose flaws you helped fixed with make-up?

I would like to say that each individual, be it a man or a woman, has flaws. Nobody is perfect. Instead of saying let's cover the flaw, it is more important to be aware of the flaw. The minute you are aware of it, you can cover it. I suggest you work on enhancing your good features. It's also about understanding how you want to look at beauty. The idea of beauty today is not the same as what we perceived it as a decade back. We are now able to accept actors with their individuality, their flaws and drawbacks. And then since these stars understand them and use a few tricks to cover them, they end up looking perfect.

4. Must every woman wear make-up?

Absolutely not. I am of the opinion that a woman should wear make-up only if she feels comfortable in it. My wife Mehr, for example, chooses to wear lipstick even if she has to step out of the house to walk across the street. But that's the way she feels confident. On our wedding day, much to her dislike, I refused to let her put on a lot of make-up. I told her that I had chosen her the way she is, without make-up, and would like to marry her only that way. She was upset initially, but when she saw the wedding photos, she understood what I meant.

5 Is it OK for women to keep away from make-up for an entire day?

I say abstain from make-up for a whole week! Movies are a make-believe world. But in real life, you need to be realistic. Wear make-up only if you want to.

6. Is it true that making a woman look ‘natural' is harder work?

It is true only in terms of a fashion shoot or a film shoot because we have to work a lot on contouring and layering make-up. At times, it may take a few hours to create the ‘no make-up' look. This is not true for a working woman or an at-home mum. They can apply just lipstick, eyeliner and a dust of blush and they are done.

7.Have we come of age in understanding the real meaning of make-up?

Yes, things have finally evolved and changed. I am glad it has come to a stage where most women have started experimenting with cosmetics based on their needs and limitations.

8.How did you get associated with MAC?

I've had a 32-year stint in Bollywood and this is my sixth year with MAC. When they arrived in India to launch their flagship store, they came to me and it was like a godsend. It has all turned to be a fantastic experience. I remember picking up my first MAC lipstick shades - Marrakech, Twig and Malt - in Vancouver, Canada, during a film shoot. This was about 15 years ago. From there on, whenever I travelled abroad, I would pick up MAC at airports and stores.

9. With make-up, can anything ever be enough? 35 lipsticks or 15 - when must you stop?

If a woman knows what looks good on her, she knows when to stop buying. She must also know how to mix and match the products that she has. In my opinion, it is more than sufficient to own 15 lipsticks. Finish one before you buy a new shade.

10. How possible is it to give yourself a five-minute makeover when pressed for time? Is it not true that some of us have to work harder in order to get our faces in shape, irrespective of age and skin condition?

It is not impossible but it also is not a great idea to put on make-up in a hurried way. It is better to not use make-up at all than rush through its application. Spend at least 15 minutes to camouflage and layer make-up otherwise there will be streaks or the make-up will bleed. Once you know your flaws, it will not take you a lot of time to put on make-up. This is irrespective of age, face shape and skin condition.

11. Of the options: natural, regular or glam, each has its strengths. Can you advise women on when they should opt for what kind of make-up?

If she is at home or stepping out to buy groceries, she should choose a natural look. For a party look, she will have to be glam. For work life, it is enough to wear the basic make-up for face, eyes and lips.

12. What's more important: choosing colours that work best for you and sticking to them, or constantly buying new ones and experimenting?

Both are equally important. There is no harm in trying new shades but like I said, if you have an existing set of cosmetics, finish them and then invest in a new set. Everything has an expiry date on it so use it before moving on to new products.

However, if you are confident about a set of colours and products, you can stick with them.

13. Can an individualistic woman set her own make-up trend without depending on experts?

Almost all Bollywood actresses have set up a trend of their own. Helen, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Hema Malini, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz and so on.

14. What are the make-up no-nos according to Mickey Contractor?

Do not attempt to look fairer than you are. That's a huge mistake.

15. With make-up, can anything ever be enough? 35 lipsticks or 15? When must you stop?

If a woman knows what looks good on her, she knows when to stop buying. She must also know how to mix and match the products that she has. In my opinion, it is more than sufficient to own 15 lipsticks. Finish one before you buy a new shade.

16. Do you agree that till a decade back, make-up artists in Bollywood were doing a thankless job?

(Smiles) I wouldn't say we were doing a thankless job because we were always required for make-up. But in the last decade-and-half, make-up artists have started getting a lot more acceptance and recognition. Now every second person is a make-up artist or is learning the art. I may take the credit to some extent because I have struggled to establish it in Bollywood.

17. You seem to prefer the kohl-eyes and pale-lips look for Bollywood heroines. Does it look great on most women?

Like I said earlier, be it Indian or Arab women, they all love doing eye make-up. In India, the kajal or kohl look has been in vogue since times immemorial. I gave Rani Mukherjee a very different look in Chalte Chalte and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna; Preity Zinta in Kabhi Alvia Na Kehna; Deepika Padukone in Karthik Calling Karthik; Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum and in My Name is Khan and the like. Each one had a different look.

I have always liked using browns and earthy shades on eyes so I designed an eyeshadow quad which contains all the shades I would want to use. In the last few films I worked for, I used a lot more colour than before on the leading ladies because I found the gold-and-black look boring. Earlier I used an eye pencil and then used a powder shadow on it. There were many people who came to me to ask how I had achieved this look. So this time I decided to put it all in one pot and call it Fluidlines. All you have to do is to paint it on the eyes.

The Oomph Factor

The MAC Mickey Contractor collection is a no-fuss, neat collection with absolutely no frills, no special packaging and comes in standard MAC boxes at no extra price. We can't decide which one is better:

  • A quad of eyeshadows called Athma (soul in Hindi) has four gorgeous shades: sensual Carbon, easy Folie, a highlight called Jaan (My Life) and a shade of gold called Vivah (marriage in Hindi).
  • In lipsticks, he has named a pink for all-skin tones called Mehr (meaning Grace and named after his wife); a nude shade to go with smokey eyes called Yash (meaning Fame and named after film producer Late Yash Johar); and a flirtatious pink called Gulabi (Pinkish).
  • There are two eyeshadows: one in pink called Rani (meaning Queen and inspired by the royalty) and one in green called Oomph. Dramatic ink blue eyeliner is in a pot and is a great option to add colour to smokey eyes.
  • There are two blushes: Sur (Musical note), a pretty pink, and Gana (Song), a nice nude shade.
  • The one product I heard make-up artists rave about is the Select Moisturecover. It has a coral shade on one end and a yellow one at the other. Mix the two shades and achieve the perfect colour to use as a concealor or a T-Zone foundation.
  • Use the Studio Fix translucent powder for a lasting finish.
  • For those struggling to choose brushes to use these products, Mickey has created a pencil brush, an eye-shader and a blusher brush. Take your pick.