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Smriti Chauhan on Designing 'The White Tiger' Costumes and Working with Priyanka Chopra

Costume Designer Smriti Chauhan (L)

Costume Designer Smriti Chauhan (L)

Costume designer Smriti Chauhan talks in detail about the brief she was given for The White Tiger, and how it was to work with actors like Priyanka Chopra and Adarsh Gourav.

Latest Netflix release The White Tiger, starring Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Rajkummar Rao, is being hailed for its depiction of class and caste divide in India. A sense of oppression and ambition pervade the movie and leaves one feeling bitter-sweet about the social cultural commentary shown in the film.

Besides the many things that power this tragi-comedy tale are the costumes of the actors inhabiting director Ramin Bahrani’s master-servant world. News18 gets in touch with Smriti Chauhan, who has worked behind the camera on this movie, to unravel what went behind bringing to life The White Tiger through costumes and how they speak a language of their own.

Director’s brief for the film

Ramin Bahrani’s approach was to give The White Tiger an identity of its own. We played with a lot of colours, both in the village scenes and when the story moves to the richer part of the society in the city. We have covered different strata and at every level art and costume have worked in tandem.

The colour palette we had worked on for characters was very specific about not coming in each other’s way. At the same time, we never restricted ourselves apart from the colours that we were not supposed to do like neon and saturated hues. For Pinky Madam (Priyanka Chopra) and Ashok (Rajkummar), since they have returned from New York, we have given them more muted and monochromatic shades. For others, we have used vibrant colours. We have not infused any era in it through costumes even though the film is set in 2000s.

On working with Priyanka Chopra Jonas

It was a delight working with her. She is a through professional, trusts her team and treats them with love and respect. Since Pinky Madam belongs to New York, she also had her own inputs in terms of costumes. We worked together on her designing. For an actor, it can be all about looking glamorous on-screen but if Priyanka has to look drab, she will do everything to make sure of that. She is a true director’s actor.

On Adarsh Gourav

We handed over the garments to him way in advance. He lived in his character as Balram Halwai. Before we started with the film, Adarsh actually worked at a tea stall and he would be wearing those clothes. This made Balram a part of him.

On Ramin Bahrani

His approach to filmmaking is different. Once you are on set, he lets you be. But he does a lot of prep behind designing his characters. He is very detail oriented. He gets into the characterisation of every actor in a frame, even if they are there for one scene only. Every single soul has been dressed in the film after approval. He is very particular about what is going in his frame. At the same time, he consults his team and gives them the freedom of opinion.

Smriti is currently working on Sonakshi Sinha-starrer web series for Amazon Prime Video, tentatively titled Fallen. She is also reuniting with her Delhi Crime director Richie Mehta for a period film that starts production in March.

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