Kollywood’s most sought out stylist Amritha Ram needs no introduction in the arena of costume designing and styling. A graduate from Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Amritha has carved a niche for herself with her experimental attitude, out-of-the-box thinking and a star-studded clientele of Dulquer Salmaan, Nithya Menen, Shruti Haasan amongst many others. Although she works with many celebrities, she thoroughly enjoys the process of working with superstar Kamal Haasan. In an exclusive chat with PeepingMoon.com, Amritha spoke about what it is to style the southern superstar, the face of fashion post-pandemic and MORE!
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. You have been styling various South Indian actors like DQ Salmaan, Kamal Haasan, Nithya Menon, Shruti Haasan, amongst others. How do you manage to retain their signature style while trying out different looks on them?
As people, we all have different personalities which is why I always say it’s a very individualistic thing when asked about what to wear for whom. There’s certain thing that people can carry off and a certain thing that people can’t and when you try too hard then you are not comfortable in it and it ends up like a sore thumb. Retaining the individuality of the actor is something that I try to do. The personality has to come through; I am very particular about it. In spite of trying out different looks, there will be a certain charm of that personality that will come through with all the looks and that’s something I work on.
Q. How is Kamal Haasan’s style different from his daughter Shruti Haasan considering you have been styling them both? Who is more fun to work with?
They are both very different in their own ways. Although one thing that’s common is that they both know what they are doing in terms of style. Kamal sir is a genius man because he started creating things when there was no scope for anything. His visual memory is so amazing, he remembers things he has read and then visualizes them. This is one of the reasons I got so amazed and started a special Instagram page- ‘KH- the style manifest’ just to document his style statement he’s created with every film. With sir, it’s been like a never-ending process from then to now. With Shruti, what’s different is that she has her vibe. She understands her vibe and sticks to it. When it comes to her on-screen characters, experiments a lot.
Both of them are really fun to work with. They have a great sense of humor and it’s a completely enjoyable process to work with them.
Q. Which celebrity is more open to experimentation and who likes to play it safe?
Kamal Sir. In this season of Bigg Boss right from episode one, we’ve tried out so many different things. He is always open to experimentation. Speaking of who’s not, well, I wouldn’t say nobody isn’t. There are some people who might not be comfortable but that’s okay. That’s just who they are.
Q. Any memorable incident while styling Kamal Haasan during Bigg Boss Tamil?
So many. While fittings, sir comes up with improvs and how quickly you grasp them and are able to bring them together is like a challenge. Every fitting you go it’s like I am prepared for this. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss but then he is always so encouraging and that’s what gives you the courage to take it up next time when you go. So there’ve been so many looks where I have gone with a certain mindset but sir takes it way further and adds on special elements. I bring them the next day and we try to set up the desired look. It’s an enjoyable process.
Q. How do you feel COVID-19 will change the face of the fashion/ styling industry? Have you witnessed some changes yourself?
Post COVID-19 it’s a brand new brave world that forces us to be creative. We will have to adapt and make the most of it. A lot has changed and we’ve been asking questions to ourselves that we’ve never asked before. Questions like what would people want to wear after being stuck at home for months? Is it going to be periodic fashion like springs and winters now? and so on. Beyond this, fashion will remerge for sure but then again we will have to anticipate a brand new fashion landscape. We’ve been living in track pants and pyjamas for long and the question is how do we shake this off in favour of something dressy. One thing is we can imagine is athleisure. Casualization will move forward and sustainability will go a long way. Somethings that will change are the post-pandemic trends. They are not going to be dramatic at all as it's going to take some time to come back to normal. One exception to this would be the face masks. It has become a part of an accessory, the way to accessorize the outfits and it’s going to be a part of our lives and that’s a lot in terms of changes but as I said we are going to move forward and emerge bigger and better.
Q. What precautions are taken on the Bigg Boss set awhile abiding by the norms of social distancing?
The precautions taken are amazing. From the time we step into the set, the entire crew is tested. We all go through our COVID-19 test every week and go through it two days prior so that we get the results in advance before we go on the sets. The entire set is fumigated. They have UV sanitizers are placed everywhere just so all the little things are being used - right from makeup to accessories and props are being sanitized. Our temperatures are checked thrice a day. It’s amazing to see so much effort put into it and done so meticulously. There’s not a single person on the set without PPE kits, we all wear that. Every little thing that enters the set from food to water is being sanitized, gone through UV. I feel completely relaxed on the sets of Bigg Boss.
Q. Explain each one of style in 3 words
Kamal Haasan – Classic, dapper, voguish. All the time
Dulquer Salmaan- Edgy, elegant, sophisticated.
Shruti Haasan- Swoony, modish and ever graceful
Nithya Menon – Elegant, tasteful yet understated.
Q. How easy or difficult it is to source outfits for South Indian Film actors? Have you come across any such incident?
I have not put myself into much of a situation as I have read about other stylists talking about brands refusing to dress actors. Yes, designers have been hard but that’s also because they do not know the person. Today, Instagram is a tool to bridge that gap. So I approach designers from my region who have an understanding of the actor or I try to make them understand. Earlier it was very difficult, but because of social media today, this is a boon.
Q. Which celebrity would you wish to work with in the future?
I would love to work with a lot of celebrities- newcomers and established ones. Without being cocky I would like to say that a stylist does bring something new to the table, to the artist. I would like to work with more people, understand their styles and take up the challenge of not trying to play safe with them and trying something new with them. This is a very vast question so I can’t really take names but I’d like to go out there and make my presence felt.