Omkara has a cast full of glamorous stars like Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Viveik Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Bipasha Basu and Konkona Sensharma.
Yet, director Vishal Bharadwaj made sure every one of them had a subtle and simple look, in keeping with his version of Othello.
And helping him execute that look was costume designer Dolly Ahluwalia.
Ahluwalia has earlier designed for films like Shekhar Kapur's Bandit Queen and Deepa Mehta's Earth 1947 and Water.
"I'm also trained as an actress," Ahluwalia says over the phone from her house in Chandigarh. She has done bit roles in Saurabh Shukla's Mudda and Sujit Sircar's Yahaan. "I also have a small role in Omkara, where I play Auntyji, a party leader who crusades against Naseer," she laughs. "But I'm not sure whether they will retain the part."
Ahluwalia shuttles to and from Mumbai, but she can't dream of leaving Chandigarh. "Mumbai is too fast-paced for me," she explains.
"I'm happy the way my career has shaped up. I have the urge to do more but no regrets. But it is a dream for me to work with Mani Ratnam," she sighs.
Ahluwalia holds as much affection for Bharadwaj. "When Vishal told me Omkara was based on Othello, I could not say no. I have designed costumes for Othello thrice in theatre, but all in the Shakespearean style. In one of the plays, I played Desdemona, and in another I played Bipasha's character," she says.
"When Vishal told me about the star cast in Othello, I was very nervous. Working with John (Abraham), Lisa (Ray), Aamir (Khan) is a different experience because working in foreign film setups is very different than in a Bollywood production. They are much more professional."
But a look at the script was enough to charge her up.
Ahluwalia takes us through the six main characters, and explains the look she gave for each.
Text: Ronjita Kulkarni
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