After watching a film, each of us have an unique image in our minds that lasts for a very longer period of time. Every time someone talks about that particular film, we would immediately recollect that image right away in no time. I could give you the example of Eeram (2009) which for me always gave a bluish tinge tone in my mind the moment someone takes it’s name. Now, that bluish tone was not created only on the edit table. It was decided and planned with everything on the frame giving us that feel.From the props to the costumes the artists are wearing. Yes, I’m talking about the work of the production design behind all of this. Costume design is an integral part of this production design but we to a major part undermine its depth.
Costume design has the capability to create sparks on the screen. What does one remember about Basha? One Manikam who is an auto driver that wears a sports shoe (though it is a malfunction now), the other one that wears a blazer and an evergreen coolers right? Both these characters stay alive in our minds somewhere (not entirely) due to the costumes that they were wearing.
The Everlasting image of a Character is Created.
It creates an everlasting image about the character in the film. As humans, we somehow start judging a character by the looks of it and the way the character dresses himself/herself. Now, a creator could use this attribute of humans to it’s fullest. Sometimes it also could create an image of the artist itself. Take Vijay for instance, there was a phase during which he was making urban/rural mix films where his costumes were trashed upon by critics as well as audience (Sura, Vettaikaran). His image took a different stance with Nanban and Thuppakki where his costumes were taken much care of than his previous films.
Transformation could be easily portrayed when the right costumes are chosen.
It could create a transformation for your character in no time! Take Billa 2 where Ajith rises to be a gangster. The very much change of the costume in one particular scene was enough for us to contemplate that the character has raised from a normal man to that of a gangster. One could come up with various examples where costume was used to give us the change in the character of a film like Annamalai, Kabali, Iruvar and many more!
The difference in two characters could be brought easily.
It could be used to showcase the uniqueness of two completely different characters. The difference between a criminal and a good guy (which could be showcased in a way the creator wants to, breaking the stereotypes). The difference between an urban lad and a rural lad. Take the example of Annamalai for this.
It gives a Different perspective when used rightly!
It could give a complete different dimension when used rightly according to the story’s requirement. This doesn’t just mean the regular costume design as per the story’s requirement. I’m talking about using your costume also to tell out a story or direct the audience to one particular perspective. Like, take fight club where Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) mostly appears in flashy clothes that are mostly in contrast to everyone and everything on the frame meaning he is the odd one out there or one could say, is not meant to be present there (people who have watched fight club would understand this). This way, one could break the usual stereotypical codes of using costumes to create different perspectives in your story.
Costume design is as significant as the camera work in a film because, at the end of the day it is the costume design that’s going to complement the colours & props used in your frame. The scope of it is much larger than what we actually have perceived all these days. Giving a thought to it during the script discussion would help us realize the value of it.
Do watch this video and share to us about your insights on it.