Behind all the glitzy outfits that rule the big screen, lies a very simple person. Costume designer Sameera Saneesh carries the 'girl-next-door' image effortlessly yet enthusiastically. She is one of the most talented & successful designers that Mollywood has seen after the likes of Cuckoo Parameshwaran & Sabitha Jayaraj. At the age of 32, she has about 78 films in her kitty.
At first designing was only a mere passtime. But it was not long before Sameera had made a mark in the field. Since that moment, she has not looked back. Many projects and even an entry into the Limca Book of Records; a rather busy Sameera talks to Onmanorama.
From fashion designer Sameera to the world of costume designing for films. What would like to say about this amazing transition?
Both are two different levels. You can't apply all theories that you have learnt when it comes to films. More than individuals or personalities, you are designing for characters. For characters of a middle class background, you can't experiment with haute-couture. You could probably give this a try for song sequences or situations that call for high-fashion.
What is your take on style icons that evolve from making minor variations to old style trends?
This is an interesting trend to observe. The earlier styles of loose bottom or skin top etc. are making a comeback. It's a good thing I feel.
When you do a project, whose interests are given more priority - yours or the director’s?
I discuss with the film's director on what needs to be done. A clear communication is important to get a good picture of the requirements. Colour tones that suit the actor, the designing styles etc. are all discussed with the director, art director and the camera man. Some directors like Aashiq Abu & Lal Jose Sir give me complete freedom. When I am trusted completely with a task, I try my best to get good results and that shows ultimately.
We have heard that you don't use primary colours that much. Any reason for this?
That's a true fact. I don't like jarring and loud colours and try my best to stay away. Too many colours can be visually disturbing and disrupting. But certain films require the use of this and in that case, there is no option but to use it. Maybe it is one of my drawbacks. This inability to work with primary colours.
Do you do research when it comes to period films?
Yes definitely. I haven't done many such periodical type films. For Iyobinte Pusthakam, I did some extensive research. I read up about every bit of information revolving around the costumes or fabrics of that period.
Do you take into account the viewer's expectations while designing for the characters?
No. I just give prominence to what the character wants or is expected to look like. But I am very particular that what I design should in no way irritate the wearer.
A costume designer that you admire very much or somebody that has influenced you in this field?
That will certainly be Sabyasachi. The colour combinations that he uses are like no other. Just splendid his creations are.
There are many talented newbie designers that are apprehensive about the security & safety of the glamour world. What is your advice to those fearing to tread these paths?
I have been working in this field for the past 6 years. I didn’t know anybody here when I started off. I just took up the first offer that came my way for fun. It was my husband Saneesh that encouraged me to give it a go. And now it has come to 78 films! I have honestly never had any bad experience here. In every field there are good and bad people. It all depends on our approach.
What are the 3 qualities that a good fashion designer should have?
» You have to be good at drawing essentially. This field involves a lot of sketching and it’s difficult if you can’t draw well.
» You have to be patient. In order to complete all the projects in hand smoothly, patience is the key.
» A creative mind and the ability to create. Need to come up with new and unique ideas. The journey will be a tough one without these basic qualities.
The current genereation of kids often dress casual. They go for jewellery and designer wear only for functions or weddings. Is this too simple a generation?
That’s true. The younger generation are not too fond of heavy ornaments. Most of the people that I have met prefer simple jewellery and outfits. There are few that wait for functions to show off too. Comparatively I think the present one is not that dressy as the earlier one.
What are your personal favourites?
I have no such preferences. I am generally a very cool person. Many have commented that I don’t dress like a fashion designer at all. Dulquer could never believe his eyes when he saw me for the first time! He never expected me to look so simple. He thought I would be an uber-stylish, shade-sporting costume designer. I just make sure to look and feel comfortable in whatever I wear.
Which actors or actresses do you feel look exceptional in your costumes?
That is no doubt Mammookka! I am a die-hard fan of him. Dulquer & Fahad look great too. Among actresses, I feel Mamata to be pretty in anything that she wears, Parvathy too. My favourite in saree is Shobhana chechi.
Which actress looks the best in traditional wear?
It is Kavya. Her big and beautiful eyes are lovely.
The Malayalee crowd is not too open about glamourous costumes. Do you keep that in mind while designing?
A costume ends up being glamourous or sexy depending on the person wearing it. When Mamata wears modern clothes, it doesn’t look bad at all. In fact it is pleasing. But certain actresses look good only in traditional wear. When they don’t have the body type for western wear, it looks bad.
Sometimes even films that you work really hard on don’t do well in the box office. In these cases the costumes go unnoticed. Does it make you feel bad?
Yes it can be very disheartening. It’s not enough for just the costumes to look good. The camera angles, make up should be complementing to the look. It’s only then that the effect that we want is complete. In Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal we changed 20 different costumes for just a single song sequence. But I felt bad when I watched the film. The costumes weren’t noticed because only long shots were used. Many sleepless nights later, this was the result. I called up Lal Jose sir and told him how bad I felt. He consoled me saying that many had especially mentioned to him about the dresses in the song. That was a relief.
What is your favourite colour combination?
Black is my favourite colour, I also like white and dull pink. I don’t plan for anything beforehand. I just take what I feel at that moment.
What would your other career options be had you not become a costume designer?
I would definitely become somebody or the other! The chances are high for a graphic designer or drawing teacher. That were the options in my mind during my graduation. I liked to learn about interior designing. I do some painting when I get the time. Would love to conduct an exhibition someday.
What are your desires or dreams?
Nothing big. I would like to be a part of good films and to always stay happy. That is all.