Ranveer Singh metamorphoses into Kapil Dev in 83, not only in accent and attitude, but also in his look, with a lot of rigour and research going into replicating the legendary cricketer’s hair and moustache. t2 caught up with Darshan Yewalekar, Ranveer’s ‘mane’ man since his 2013 film Ram-Leela, on what went into the actor’s spot-on look in 83, that’s now playing in theatres, what makes him sync with Ranveer and the importance of hair in determining the look of a character being given its due in our films.
The unanimous verdict is that you have nailed Ranveer Singh’s look as Kapil Dev. With the film releasing last weekend, what’s the feedback been like so far?
Not only now… right from when the first picture of Ranveer as Kapil Dev in 83 came out to when the trailer dropped, the Bollywood fraternity has been really excited. They really, really appreciated the complete mirror image that we managed to create for Ranveer. That’s the best compliment that a creative person can get, when people say that I have nailed the look through and through.
You obviously had a ready reference in the form of Kapil Dev, but what was the brief given to you for this look?
I have been working with Ranveer for the last eight years, right from Ram-Leela, and that’s not only been for his films, but also for his photoshoots, ads and events. He is known to sport the most versatile and quirky looks in the film industry. When we work together, we both come in with our own sets of SOPs (standard operating procedure) and I have my own way of approaching and attacking a look.
When I went to meet Kabir sir (Kabir Khan, the director of 83) for the first time, the brief that he gave me was to the point — that I had to make Ranveer look exactly like Kapil Dev. It was very simple. He gave me some relevant pictures and that was it. We went back and started putting our heads together on how to go about doing this look.
What were the biggest challenges?
When I worked with Ranveer in creating (Alauddin) Khilji’s look in Padmaavat, we didn’t have a reference point… I had to think of the moods and motivations of the character, his DNA and timeline and the projection of the character and create the look based on that. The same happened when I created Saif Ali Khan’s look in Laal Kaptaan. With looks like these, one has a lot more freedom to be creative.
But in creating Kapil sir’s look for Ranveer, I couldn’t deviate at all and I had to look into the microscopic details of his look in order to get it exactly right. We had to look at the exact way the waves of the hair fell, the shape of the eyebrows to the texture of his moustache. Intitially, there was the question of whether Ranveer will grow a moustache himself or should we go with a fake one. As a designer, I prefer making the looks I work on as real as possible. So we had to really mould Ranveer’s moustache in that form.
Being in the business for 19 years and after having worked with Ranveer for almost a decade, I know every inch of how his hair looks. The first look-test we did for Ranveer for 83 was for the moustache and even the tiniest follicle had to be cut off if it didn’t match Kapil sir’s. So this is a film that came with a lot of challenges, and demanded a different approach from me than what I had done before.
What is it that works for this great working relationship that you and Ranveer share?
Sanjay sir (film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali) introduced us in 2012 during the making of Ram-Leela and since then, Ranveer and I have this unspoken trust and respect for each others’ abilities and craft. We both believe in doing a lot of homework and research. We both love carrying our notebooks and pens around and getting those minute details of a look right. That is the strongest foundation of our relationship.
He is very dedicated, he loves his job and he’s very hardworking, and we share those qualities. Our energies well and truly sync. We are constantly working together… for his films, photoshoots, ads, red carpet appearances, and we both are always looking to collaborate and do something new. I am fortunate to work with someone like him who gives me a lot of creative freedom.
We have done some good work together. Whether it was him going bald for Bajirao Mastani, his Khilji look or the recent Jared Leto-inspired look we did for a shoot. I think our best is yet to come.
The whole world has so much to say about Ranveer’s sense of style, his flamboyance, his over-the-top looks. Is that the real him?
If you ask me, he’s always, always been himself. Since the time I have known him, Ranveer has always been the person who wants to wake up every morning and create something new. I have never known him to be anything else.
Almost two decades in the business, what made you opt for this profession?
I hail from a small town, where young people were expected to be either engineers or doctors. I was an average student, but I wanted to actually study aeronautical engineering. I was drawn to planes and stuff. But seeing my grades, my father sat me down and said, ‘Beta, yeh tumhari bas ki baat nahin hain.’ (Laughs) I was a little upset, but I decided to focus my energies elsewhere. My mother has always been a beautician and since childhood, I had seen her run a small beauty parlour in the house.
I was good at extracurricular activities, sports, craft, and so on and my parents encouraged me to try my hand at this profession. It was quite progressive of them at that time.
How have you seen the importance and respect given to the department of hairstyling evolve in Bollywood over the years?
Oh, it has immensely transformed! Earlier, not much importance was attached to the technical aspects of this profession and craft. But over the years, Hindi cinema has evolved tremendously. I think Dil Chahta Hai kind of started it, and films like Omkara took it forward. Designing Ranbir’s (Kapoor) look for Saawariya was a gamechanger for me. Sanjay sir (Bhansali) saw the spark in me and used me in his films, and the ball really started rolling for me when I started working with Ranveer. By then, I had developed a process for myself… getting a feel of the script, studying, researching…. Slowly, people started realising the importance of hair in the look of a character.
I think designing the look of the whole of Laal Kaptaan, which had a lot of scope to play around creatively, was a major turning point for me. And now, I am designing the whole look of Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani (starring Ranveer and Alia Bhatt).
I have evolved with my process every day, every month and every year and I have worked very hard to make the producers and directors I have worked with understand the value of what hair can do to the look of a character.
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