Mahanati, the Telugu-Tamil biographical period film, based on the life of former South Indian actor Savitri, garnered rave reviews for its star cast’s stellar performance. And it came as no surprise when Keerthy Suresh, who played the titular role, was declared Best Actress at the 66th National Film Awards.
Besides the terrific performances, the film stood apart for the perfection with which the 1960s, 70s, and 80s were depicted via the costumes and appearance of the actors. The jury decided to pick it for the Best Costume category.
The film also has an Odisha connect – stylist Indrakshi Pattanaik Malik.
Born to an Odia father and a Bengali mother, she did her schooling in Kolkata. But she often travels to Bhubaneswar to meet her relatives living on Tankapani Road.
For a little over a year, Indrakshi just had one obsession: Savitri. Despite no prior understanding of South Indian cinema and Savitri, she wowed everyone with her work.
At first, she was not sure about handling such a huge project. In an interview to The News Minute, she said: “I thought I wasn’t ready for this and I said I’d do one character. But the film has no single lead; Samantha, Vijay, Keerthy and Dulquer are all as key as every other character in the film and it had all to come together as a single entity. I had studied the history of fashion and always had a keen interest in it. Not everyone gets an opportunity to work on it and deliver it through a film made on a massive scale. This was the moment for me to grab.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Indrakshi said extensive research had to be done since fashion trends in south India in those times were not documented. She launched an online campaign to know about people and lifestyles in different regions of South India in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s and information poured in. She observed a difference in the cut of blouses, jewellery, bindi and accessories in each decade. Some had even lent her saris from their grandmother’s wardrobe.
In her interview to The News Minute, she had said: “Every small detail had to be checked. Accessories are key supporting elements and it might not seem like a big deal, but they are very important part of every frame. Can you believe that accessories decide which year we are talking about because they are the fastest evolving fashion element, with developments almost every year? And sourcing them all, was another major task.”
On the other hand, Indrakshi’s team had keep it simple for non-cinematic characters of Samantha as a journalist of the 80s and Vijay Deverakonda as a photojournalist.
The young stylist has worked with Niharika Bhasin Khan as costume assistant in the Anurag Kashyap directed Bombay Velvet. She had styled Chiranjeevi in Khaidi No 150.
She worked with Vogue India and Grazia India after graduating from Symbiosis Institute of Design in Design and Fashion Communication. She did her masters from Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy.
Her stint with the fashion magazines, soon after graduation, where she had to arrange beverages, send emails, carry clothes, props and do last-minute troubleshooting, came in handy when she stepped into the film industry.