Exclusive : ‘Let’s have our own style’

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

Geetha Gautham is a part of a new breed of stylists who are changing the look of Telugu films. She is experimenting with looks and giving films a chic edge. She might not have a background in designing but while working at Vyjayanthi, she has brought to the table, her knowledge of the fashion scenario, current trends, silhouettes and fabrics. In a chat with Klapboardpost.com, she says her job is more than picking the right designer brands and along with the actor, she too gets under the skin of the character . Ask her about her first fashion memory, she says, “I don’t recall my first fashion memory but I was quite excited to do things from waste and recreate drapes. I remember seeing my mother making a dress from a curtain material. I was four or five years old, always inclined towards fashion. I was born and brought up in Kakinada which isn’t a fashion forward city. Being born in the eighties, my mom was an ardent fan of Jayaprada, wore what the actress wore and dressed up like her. I think I got it from her to look different. I am not an experimental person, but I like to be decent and stand apart from the crowd and not be messy. I like to dress up people.”Geetha Gautham

Do you know what you are wearing tomorrow, are you prepared or is it always about dressing your talents? “It is a question mark every day, I spent hours in the wardrobe trying to understand how it is going to be today, even now I think about what I should wear tomorrow. I am particular about what I wear. My college wear didn’t work for me, because I was working at a young age. I joined  a call center and in an ITS firm when I was seventeen. I picked up fashion from corporate life, from how people dress up..and that’s when I began experimenting from bizarre pants, prints, to coloring my hair. I hail from a orthodox family and couldn’t experiment in the early stage of my life even though deep down I had the yearning to try out,” she adds.

About her style statement, Geetha says, “After marriage I began exploring more of fashion. At mum’s place I couldn’t wear sleeveless and anything above the knees. I still would sneak out wearing fashionable clothes. I am like someone who would try out everything and if it doesn’t suit I would drop that. I know my body type and I dont’ go adventurous because I know I won’t carry it off. My style is most often classic and romantic. I like dressing up people and from a younger age, I would try diff things on my brother and sister. For my sister, I would make her sit for hours and do make up. Clothes are about personal choice and a person who is fashionable need not look fashionable always.Ii don’t judge people by what they wear. It is the comfort level of a person that is important and also about what they want to do.”Geetha concurs that every time a person steps out, he or she needs to look different and presentable. She shares, “Hyderabadis in the past two decades have become influencers and instagram has become popular. Since the last 15 years I have seen fashion evolve, about what is trending and what should be incorporated. I have seen palazzos become slim fit and someone wearing them.  If you are flaunting it and owning it up completely and also if you influence people to wear it then you are a fashionista. I am amused when every one apes the other even when the particular dress doesn’t suit them. You shouldnt replicate anyone’s style. The minute you wear it you know if you are comfy or not. You should listen to your conscience. Let’s have our own style. and it’s about how you groom and present yourself. You can wear a simple kurta pyjama and look chic and stylish.”

These days women irrespective of age are wearing blouses with dori (ornamental strings). It hasn’t run out of fashion yet. Geetha states it is meant to hold the blouse together, “We are experimenting with the length of our necklines. going really deep, when we don’t have enough fabric to hold, the blouse slips from the shoulder. It is also to get a good fit and moreover, it is difficult to get people who can get a good blouse. Wearing it is a personal choice, as long it is not too gaudy people can wear it, age doesn’t matter. I studied  winter in Kakinada and a degree in Hyd. While I was working I finished graduation and post graduation in English MA, corporate language training for 12 years. After working in night shifts I decided to take a break and quit corporates and started looking out for opportunities in the field of fashion and movies because it always intrigued me. I saw this ad for fashion interns for Mahanati and applied and worked for stylist Indrakshi. I learned on the job and Vyjayanthi was like a school and taught me so much about movies and I’m indebted to the experience of Mahanati. After Mahanati, producer Swapna gave us a break and we began working independently, I and Shilpa (fellow stylist) did Gangstars, Vijetha, Devdas, Oh Baby, Aakashavani, Palani Abbayi Palana Ammayi and two songs for Pehalwan and webs series for Aha that is not yet released. We are doing another web series for Vyjayanthi.”

Do you do personal shopping? “When you are working, you tend to forget to dress up. We don’t get time to shop for ourselves, even if it is a birthday or an anniversary. When we see something nice, we tell ourselves let us come back again but let us do this work first. Shilpa and I met at Vyjayanthi. We were assistants for Mahanati and we are poles apart. I am a conventional kurta pyjama kind of person, I love cotton dresses. Shilpa is a fashion grad, she did fashion designing from NIFT. She is at the other end of the spectrum, high waisted pants and cropped tops. There are always creative differences and we kind of argue and understand characters and come to a solution and try to work it out in the interest of the films, even if it means a foot wear,” she shares.

Do stylists choose comfortable fabric or good looking stuff for actors? “We choose the best possible material and not pretty, glossy stuff. What matters at the end of the day is the actor looking the part or not. That is the primary motto. The minute we are given a narration, we do character analysis, the age and how she looks, how the director wants to see her, socio economic conditions and where the character lives. The budgets are part of the game. whoever is wearing it is not comfy, they can’t play the part at all. The comfort, fit, the fabric all come into the picture. We play a major role in trying to understand the budget, colors that the production designer gives, director needs, what the actor is like, it is a package. There are clothes that we source from the flea market and after sanitising, we get it dry cleaned. To stay true to the character we go deeper into the market. If it is nice and good quality and wearable we can convince the actor that because of the role she or he is playing we picked this up,” she says.

Geetha Gautham loves challenges, she loves her job and really likes movies and working on sets, styling people. Every film is different and every actor is different and one has  to understand the pulse of the team and movie and the challenging thing is sudden requests to source within deadlines. She is firm and states, “Cinema matters and nothing is greater than cinema. We take up a project, we take up the entire project. I stay quite far in Sainikpuri and travel one and a half hours. When I’m working I don’t answer calls. My mother-in-law takes care of everything and that is a huge support. When I’m off, I’m off and spend time with family. Working hard and getting an acknowledgement gives you a high.” The young and articulate stylist is a vibrant, warm and lively person. She talks well, and it doesn’t take long to make people talk and communicate. Everybody dreams and when dreams come true there is nothing like it. She has a statement to make about saree and repeating clothes and signs off, “Everyday people apply for the position of costume designer. Empowering women in the movie industry is very special. About the saree, it will never go out of fashion. I’m not someone who experiments with saree. Saree is a classic elegant piece that should remain intact. Sarees are passed on as heirlooms and these days women don’t repeat. It is about proving to someone out there. I don’t feel shame in repeating clothes. You should get used to wearing your clothes, you can’t wear a new dress every day. It is about flaunting yourself on social media sites. I believe in repeating, reusing, recycling and if something is torn, I’ll make something out of it.”

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