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    Mirzya’s make-up designer takes us behind the most dramatic onscreen makeovers

    After having worked on the make-up design of films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Zero Dark Thirty and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, artist Virginia Holmes’ next outing is the visually-stunning (if the trailers are anything to go by) Mirzya. Speaking about her experience on the sets, Holmes, who is also co-owner of India-based make-up company Fat Mu, admits that it was a long process. “The make-up, costume and hair teams met in 2014 to begin to build the worlds you will see on screen. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra actually said that there are three worlds to create and the characters will then emerge automatically,” she says, adding that for actor Harshvardhan Kapoor’s contemporary look the brief was to make him look like an anti-hero and for Mirza, his eye colour was changed, his beard grown longer and his skin tanned. Here, Holmes, who has just finished a film by Tabrez Noorani, lists her pick of the most drastic transformations on screen:

    The Exorcist (1973)
    Game-changer Dick Smith was one of the early pioneers of combining make-up with on-set “practical” special effects. In The Exorcist, he made the welts swell up on the little girl’s stomach, made her head spin around and, of course, there were the iconic vomiting scenes.

    An American Werewolf in London (1981)
    Rick Baker worked with director John Landis on this black humour horror film. Baker used and created techniques that had never been used before. The whole film had comic characters who were victims of werewolf attacks, who came back from the dead. The make-up/prosthetics were just superb.

    Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982)
    This was a pioneering video in so many ways. From a make-up point of view, designer and SFX guru Baker transformed MJ into a werewolf—so different and, for its day, technologically superb. The SFX and prosthetics were cutting edge and it pushed forward the art. It made it famous.

    Tootsie (1982)
    With Dustin Hoffman playing a male actor who transforms himself into a woman in order to get work, the transformation was superb, fun and explored the power of make-up for its psychological and physical impact.

    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy(2001-3)
    Each set of characters showed so much imagination and superb technical ability. From the Elves to the Hobbits and the Dwarves, the detailing involved was breathtaking.

    Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
    I love Charlize Theron’s character’s look. Smearing the engine oil on herself during the scene and looking warrior-like was just incredible.
    Mirzya releases today.

    —Simar Bhasin

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