The world is witness to history being made, with Pathaan breaking records at the global box-office. A movie that not only embodies the fanaticism of the audience in India, but captures the love and admiration the world holds for a man, a superstar. Shah Rukh Khan. It’s beyond one’s imagination what Pathaan has done for the movie-goers around the world. It’s given back to them a superstar they have loved for three decades, a theatrical experience they have craved for two years and action and romance that defines Indian films around the globe.
To top it all off, Pathaan gave us a female action superstar that we are going to swoon over for a long time now. Deepika Padukone, beyond being the absolute stunner she is, was a sight to behold while she packed some serious punches and beat the bad guys. One wouldn’t want to blink ones eyes only to avoid missing her impeccable expressions, her wondrous eyes and her impactful punches.
In conversation with Shaleena Nathani about Pathaan:
Well, we could go on and on about the film and the stars, but one thing we all had our sights hooked onto from the first teaser was how good protagonists looked. Be it the cool resort wear in the song, Besharam Rang, the uber cool streetwear in Jhoome Jo Pathaan or finally the entire styling of the film, we were completely blown away by literally every look in the movie. And the credit goes to celebrity stylist, Shaleena Nathani.
We’ve already followed Shaleena Nathani’s work over the years. She’s been responsible for some of Deepika Padukone’s iconic looks internationally and has delivered ballers over the years with the star in India. She’s worked her magic with classic suits and lines with Shah Rukh Khan in the past and with Pathaan she showed us a side of the man we just can’t get enough of.
So much said, we caught up with Shaleena to find out more about the process and styling of the characters and what went into putting one of the finest movie look books at the movies in a long time. Excerpts…
Firstly, how does it feel to get some much praise for SRK and Deepika’s styling in Pathaan?
There’s a lot of hard work that goes into making a film and I think it’s great that people appreciate the work that you do. At the end of the day, you have to be satisfied with what you’ve put in and give your 100%. Then you have to leave it to what people’s reactions are. This film is very special to me because it’s got two that I love very, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better film to work on. So, of course it feels amazing to get all this praise. This makes you want to work harder and do better.
What was the initial brief for both the characters?
The great thing about Siddharth (Anand) is that he let me read the script and come up with my own ideas and create moodboards and styling references for what I felt a character should be like. Then, of course he’s very specific about what he wants and we kind of narrowed down on the zone of what we like. It was a very collaborative effort between the actors, the director and me and my team. They have to look glamorous, but in certain instances, like for Shah Rukh (Khan), they have to be real, they have to be practical. We set a colour palette that we wanted to use for him. For the songs we went all out. I don’t think I could have asked for anything better. Sid gave me a lot freedom to show him what I wanted to do and I think that’s why the results are so good, Because everybody worked with a lot of love and a lot of trust in each other. I mean, I have the two most gorgeous people to dress, so to make them look amazing isn’t really hard.
How is Shah Rukh Khan when it comes to styling? Is he hands-on or does he trust you completely with what you pick?
Shah Rukh Khan is just incredible, there is so much to learn from him and get inspired by him Anything you give him, he makes it look better. He just has his own way of carrying clothes off. He has the most incredible style. So I think anything I give him, he just makes it better. He is very hands on. He has a lot of amazing input on what he feels we should do, what he feels we should change. And he’s also extremely trusting. Like, I’ll show him a moodboard, we’ll bring him the clothes, and then it’s a very collaborative effort between Sid, Shah Rukh, his team and my team. I don’t think I’m solely responsible for anything. There’s a lot of trust between the entire team, which is amazing.
Which of Deepika’s look was your most favourite to put together?
I would have to say two of the looks were my favourite. There’s a scene where she walks into the room in Russia for the first time and she’s wearing a short dress with boots, a shirt tied around her waist and a trench coat. For me, I love looks that are layered and put together. You pick things up from different places and you put it together and it makes a cool statement. So for me that is the best part about styling and I love picking things from different places and putting things together. I think that’s the most fun part for me and just dressing up casual pieces, I love doing that. I think it was also great fun because we had the opportunity of having this really cool length of hair that we could play around with, which was fun and really sexy. Then, of course the shot where she’s walking in the bar in that beautiful black dress. I mean, we wish that she could have done the whole film in that. But yes, it was an Aadnevik dress, which they were very kind to loan us for that scene. I think the best thing about her is she trusts me completely. The relationship that we have, I think we can get the best output for everything that we do.
One look that she sported that is very close to how you personally dress…
I feel like as a stylist, a bit of your personal style does come into your work. I think there would be bits and pieces of a lot of things. But there are a lot of things I can’t carry off because she’s just her. I always say that whatever I can’t buy for myself and whatever I can’t wear myself, I do for you. I’m a very jeans and crop top or tank top kind of a person, so I think one of those looks would be more my personal style.
Considering she was doing a lot of action sequences, was it difficult to put together looks that were both sexy and comfortable to move around it?
The amazing part about her (Deepika Padukone) is that she really adapts and makes anything work Sometimes if it’s looking amazing and there might be a little bit of something that needs to change which might compromise the entire look, she’s the kind of person who will say, ‘Let’s go for it, we’ll make it work’. So to be honest, no, I don’t think it was difficult at all. I also feel like we have such specific briefs from Sid, which really made it easy. I like the challenging part that there were so many action sequences. So what was great was we got a chance to create something different for each action sequence. I mean it’s such a collaborative effort to put something on, work on it, so there is back and forth, but she understands the entirety of the idea that I come with. Even for Shah Rukh, he is so lovely when it comes to adapting to things. With him, less is more.
Which was Deepika’s favourite look from the entire lookbook?
I haven’t asked her, but I would have to say some of the off-duty looks that we did. Like the one where she’s arriving in Russia, where she’s walking in Paris and just the cool casual style. I mean, she just carries everything off really well.
How much does the process of styling change when doing looks for a movie compared to public appearances or red carpets?
For a film, you start off with building a character and having a bit of a language of what you want them to wear and you follow that process. Practicality comes into the styling elements, the kind of things you use, the kind of things she wears, on-screen every small detail shows, so everything has to be perfect. It also has to look great on screen. You have to consider where you’re shooting, the locations, your co- actors, costumes, all of it. When you’re doing public appearances and red carpet looks, you create this really dramatic moment, which we love to do. It’s all drama. It’s about what’s going to look nice on the carpet. It’s about complete glamour. Public appearances also, it kind of depends on what event we’re going for, what the mood of the event is, the brand we’re promoting. So it is very different. The thing is, in a public appearance, people are seeing you face to face.For a film, it’s all on screen. So there are a lot of things that differ when you dress for a live audience and when you dress for screen.
Finally, are you a Bollywood buff, and if yes, what does the success and craze around Pathaan mean to you as an audience?
I am a Bollywood buff. I’m might not be as big a buff as a lot of people are, but I have to say I’ve been a fan of Shah Rukh Khan from a very young age. So it’s like more than a dream come true to be doing what I do today. I think more than that, more than anything else, I just love what I do. And then to be able to see your work on screen, it is just the most incredible satisfaction that you can get. Also, you meet such amazing people on the job, people from all over the world doing very different things. I think that’s the most amazing thing about doing a film. Pathaan had to be a success. This film has been made with so much love, so much faith and so much trust. I couldn’t be happier for everybody who’s worked on the film, for Yash Raj, for Shah Rukh, for Sid, for Deepika. I really can’t believe. I extremely happy and I hope the best for all of them.