Poornima Ramaswamy on styling actors and keeping it real.
Sporting jeans and a checked shirt, actress Jyothika’s new look—released this week, for her upcoming film Magalir Mattum—has piqued our curiosity. A complete shift from the star’s previous sari-clad, demure character in 36 Vayathinile, we catch up with the brain behind her styling, city-based Poornima Ramaswamy, who walks us through her busy schedule and the nuances of styling film stars.
Being actor Suriya’s sister’s classmate from kindergarten, for Ramaswamy the star couple is like family. “Jo anni (Jyothika) is the easiest artiste to style. In fact, both she and Saravanan anna (Suriya) are very simple in their approach. Since I never go over-the-top with my ideas, we are often on the same page—though I do often pull him out of his comfort zone and add some quirky touches (laughs),” says the self-taught designer, who was rejected twice when she tried to enroll at NIFT, but today goes to the institute as a guest lecturer. The stylist, who was also behind Suriya’s leather-jacketed look for an event in Malaysia recently, will be styling him in his next, Thaana Serntha Kootam. While Ramaswamy cannot reveal more about Jyothika’s styling for Magalir Mattum, we are thrilled with the actress’ weight loss and are waiting to see more of this young and fresh look.
The 36-year-old—who has had ample experience in retailing and merchandising, in her family business, Naidu Hall—got into the business when, in 2012, director Bala asked her to style for his period film, Paradesi. When the film won the National award and the London International Film Award for best costume design, there was no looking back. Learning to keep it real with the Naan Kadavul director, she says, “Whether it is a period movie or a modern setting, he (Bala) always told me not use design for the sake of putting across something new. Styling should be according to the story and look believable.”
The mother of a nine-year-old and an ardent cyclist, Ramaswamy has a packed calendar with back-to-back projects, including actor Karthi’s next. Citing actor Rana Daggubati and actress Regina Cassandra’s upcoming look in the bilingual, 1945 (Madai Thirandhu in Tamil), as challenging, she says, “That (period costumes) means lots of homework and research.” Styling actor Dhanush in his untitled next, Ramaswamy is now putting together the look for his directorial debut, Power Pandi, even as she is styling actor Venkatesh in the Telugu remake of Saala Khadoos, actor Vikram Prabhu for Mudi Sooda Mannan, actor Santhanam for Server Sundaram and Vijay Vasanth’s next. “I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day!” she concludes.
— Sabrina Rajan