Costume designer Niranjani Ahathiyan reinterprets prints, blocks and bright colours in period drama, Kaaviya Thalaivan
TWO months from now when the Vasanthabalan film, Kaaviya Thalaivan, releases, the audience is bound to make note of the name- Niranjani Ahathiyan. The costume designer for the film, Ahathiyan, tells us a lot of hard work and research went into this period drama that talks about the lives of two theatre artistes in the 20th century. It stars Siddarth, Prithviraj, Vedhika and Anaika Soti. “Vasanthabalan first wanted me to design clothes for a song. After I showed several references, he signed me up for the movie,” begins the daughter of acclaimed National Award winning director, Ahathiyan, and the sister of actress Vijayalakshmi from Chennai 600028 fame. It all started in 2009, when the 29-year-old was working as a producer at Vijay TV for shows like Ungalil Yaar Adutha Prabhudeva and she decided to try her hand at designing costumes. After working with ace designer Nalini Sriram for a year, she got her first break with Vijayalakshmi’s film, Kattradhu Kalavu, followed by Sigaram Thodu and Vaayai Moodi Pesavum.
About preparing for Kaaviya Thalaivan, besides online research, Ahathiyan says books on theatre and watched several period films complemented her online research. “My father helped me a lot. I watched everything from Karnan to Mannadhi Mannan. I used to spend hours at the library researching the era,” shares the designer, who has created 25 different looks for Siddharth in the film. “It is not a normal film where the actors wear casuals throughout and we customise costumes just for the songs. Here each design had to be different,” shares Agathiyan, who has used a lot of colours, prints and blocks to stay faithful to the period.Ahathiyan prefers designing Indian clothes and is a fan of designers like Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Arora. She also has plans to start her own brand soon.
— Mrinalini Sundar