Style guru Sushmita Konidela entered the industry with a bang. Here she is, filling us in on what life’s like in her shoes.
She styled megastar Chiranjeevi (who also happens to be her father) in Kaidi 150 and her styling won approval from all quarters. A graduate of the prestigious NIFT where she was the topper in costume history, Sushmitha brings an element of authenticity to the characters with her sartorial designs.The period drama Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is testimony to her immense talent and she has styled the entire lead cast from Amitabh Bachchan to Nayanatara. Despite her hectic pre- release schedule she finds time to take us into her world.
Q1. Sushmita, being from the “Mega Family” where most of its members are in the film industry, were you always hoping to join film making in some capacity or was your decision to be a stylist unplanned?
- Even as a child I used to lean towards thinking out of the box and being creative. Quite naturally, I chose to graduate in Fashion Design at NIFT. Also, growing up in a family like mine, with an actor father, my love for cinema is quite strong. Costume designing is my way of merging both my passions in a way that is very fulfilling. So you could say it was very much a planned one.
Q2. Every designer has their own USP, a design sensibility that is unique to them. What is your design mantra?
- My design sensibilities have always been towards clean and striking lines with quirky notes. My USP as a designer is to translate the director’s vision and the character’s personality into the costumes to enhance and make the visuals more striking and believable. Cinema is a very visual medium. That is why every creation of mine is unique and very character, period and situation-dependent. Rather than going with the current fashion trends I believe that fashion can be a tool to express one’s individual philosophy.
Q3. Designing is a creative process and one must be inspired at all times to give it their creative best. Where do you look for inspiration?
- As I am primarily a costume designer, I start off with understanding the story, the character arc, what the director has envisioned. In general, travel, world culture and music have been the biggest influences as well as inspiration for me.
Q4. You have designed for films like Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Kaidi 150 and Rangasthalam which are widely different films in terms of period and genre. Given a choice would you choose a period film or one set in the present?
- Coming from a strong design and creative background, I would any day pick period films as I get a chance to indulge in my forte, which is designing and creating costumes from a historic era. I thrive on all the challenges that designing for a period film brings with it. Also, it gives me an opportunity to research, which is the best part of the whole process for me.
Q5. What was it like designing for stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Nayantara, Tamannah and Chiranjeevi for Sye Raa?I must add the costumes were all very impressive.
A5. Thank you. Firstly, I am so grateful for the opportunity to design for these extremely talented actors. With each of them, I have very special and memorable experiences. I learnt so much from Bachchan Sir who is a legend. The memories from the sets of Sye Raa will be ones that I will cherish for a long time to come.
Q6. Tell us some memorable and creatively satisfying moments.
- My memorable moments will always be the most challenging ones. It may at that point feel very frustrating, especially when it looks like we may miss deadlines or something unforeseen happens. But looking back, those are the times that bring forth the best in me. There have been instances when we have worked all night due to a change in schedule. In Hognekal where we were shooting, a sudden change in costume was required and there were no proper shops to source things from, so we had to be creative and make do with whatever we could from the village shops nearby. I like the surprises and challenges that are intrinsic to designing.
Q7. Styling and designing are physically and mentally challenging. How do you manage the challenge of being a mother of two as well as a successful stylist?
- Yes, this is a very demanding profession in more ways than one. The schedules, the deadlines are ever changing and the bigger the project, the tougher everything gets. The unpredictability of it all does get to you at times, forcing you to put your personal needs on the back burner. When it comes to my family, that is my kids and husband, I constantly try and re-calibrate things, make minor adjustments so that neither family nor profession are compromised. If I do not keep making these small adjustments, I will miss out on the profession that I love and my family life. I am blessed with a wonderful husband and mother who are my support systems.
Q8. The best and worst part of being a stylist.
- The best part obviously would be that you get to do what you enjoy and are known to do well. It provides creative satisfaction. The worst part would be the long outdoor schedules in foreign locations that force me to be away from family for long periods. I do feel bad for not being able to spend a lot more time with my daughters. Though I must say the best part more than makes up for the worst and so it is all good.
Q9. Some style advice for all the women and men out there.
- Not actually styling advice but I think it is very important to be confident and that makes everything you wear look so much better. Do not blindly follow trends and use clothes as a way to express your individuality.