The Team of Chandni Chowk to China TAlk About What it Took to Give Deepika Padukone Chinese Eyes

How do you turn Mangalorean beauty Deepika Padukone into a Mandarin hottie? The team of Chandni Chowk To China gives you the gyaan on slanting eyes, printed silks and poker-straight fringes

'I preferred Meow's sexy, chic look': Deepika Padukone

SHE may have gone with her director Nikhil Advani's vision, but Deepika Padukone says she couldn't suppress a sliver of excitement at the thought of wearing the traditional Chinese cheongsam, the one-piece clinging dress, onscreen. "It's not something you really see in Indian cinema. I didn't interfere much though as we had our New York-based designer Jaimal Odedra," says Deepika over the telephone, fresh out of the Los Angeles premiere of Chandni Chowk To China.

Director Advani and she are enroute to the airport to board a flight for their next premiere destination on a whirlwind tour – Times Square at New York. "I've been a model and done many, many photo-shoots, but I've never done anything this challenging."

Deepika plays both the fresh-faced Indian lass Sakhi and the svelte Chinese Meow Meow.
"The first thing was to see how we could get the slanted eyes without the tapes, which my make-up artiste Mallika helped stretch out with eyeliner. Then we had to fix the hair, the length of the fringe to suit my face and work with ponytails and braids. Meow had a lighter skin tone and Sakhi darker — these are things that heroines don't usually tamper with because they want to look perfect."

Styling was dramatically different too — as Meow Meow, Deepika was clad in black leather, fake fur, high-heeled boots, but Sakhi leaned towards bubblegum pink. "Personally, I preferred Meow Meow's styling as she's sexy, chic, darker," trails off Deepika.

'We used motifs; one had a flower, the other a cat': Director Nikhil Advani

Nikil Advani with Deepika Padukone

IT was director Nikhil Advani who insisted on the half-painted lips, imitating the Japanese geisha girl style. "The make-up artiste Mallika and I really fought about it because she wanted to make it Chinese and authentic. But for me, it was more important to give something back to the audience that was trendy — Chandni Chowk To China is, after all, a Bollywood film. I wanted people who saw it to pick it up as a trend and try it back home."

So Deepika's Meow Meow character sports pouty lips, shot with a strip of red. For the rest through, the director said that his crew stuck to authenticity, got their materials from China and tailored them there. Nikhil saw Deepika's double role as Sakhi, damsel-in-distress and Meow, ruthless and steely. "So we even experimented with how we did her hair — for Sakhi's Barbie doll character, she had it soft, while Meow Meow had poker straight hair with a fringe. She even uses her braid as a weapon." Motifs helped too. Sakhi had a flower one and Meow Meow, well… a cat.

Since Nikhil calls the USP of the film China, the colour that dominated the film's milieu is red.



'You wouldn't want to meet Meow Meow in a dark alley': costume designer Jaimal Odedra

THIS is his first Bollywood film, but New York-based fashion designer Jaimal Odedra
dived straight into it, taking a recce into China to source out fabrics and tailors.
"I've known Nikhil (Advani) and Rohan (Sippy) for about five years now, but they called me out of the blue and asked if I would do this. I had the dates and I was on. I've beento Hong Kong and mainland China, but this was my first time at The Great Wall and it was
amazing!"

Raised in England and from London's Royal College of Art, Jaimal has designed for fashion houses like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Givenchy. He understands Hindi, but speaks little, so there was more lingual confusion when Chinese and Thai artistes stepped in. "I suppose in a creative world, you can get by a lot on actions."

Jaimal was more concerned about workmanship — how Indian costume makers would interpret Chinese designs and vice versa, as even the hand stitching differs. Once in China though, Jaimal found himself working with the costume makers of such famous films as Lust Caution, Curse Of The Golden Flower, Kung Fu Hustle and Hero. "When I read the script, my first impression was my idea of the characters because there was no visual references," describes Jaimal, in New York for the premiere of Chandni Chowk To China, "To me, Sakhi and Meow Meow were totally contrasting. Sakhi was colourful, bubbly, fun, while Meow Meow was emotionless, dark and somber. I brainstormed on the words."

From it, came the looks of the two Deepikas — one a "blingy, girl-about-town who refuses to grow up and isn't scared to be loud and parties. And Meow, who you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley and who could throw you over and break your bones". Jaimal says the challenge then was to make Meow Meow feminine, elegant and sophisticated, but with multiple openings for wires and harnesses for stunts. Despite the variety, Jaimal finds it easy to pick his favourite outfits from the shoot.

Both are from the title song — one is Deepika's red, gold robe and Akshay's armour and in another sequence, the actress's outfit in pale pink flowers and Akshay's classic suit.
"Deepika and Akshay looked so amazing that when they came out, the Chinese dancers on
set clapped"

'Deepika told me not to use tapes for her eyes': makeup artiste Mallika Bhat


The only brief director Nikhil Advani gave 28-year-old makeup artiste Mallika Bhat was 'make my lead actress look Chinese'. The fact that doe-eyed Deepika Padukone was the lead actress did not help Bhat's case. She says, "They had been through makeup artistes who decided to stick tapes on Deepika's face to pull her features back. But when we were done Nikhil asked if we had used tapes and I said no and he gave us the thumps up." Bhat did away with the tapes and instead researched heavily on the look. They watched the movie Memoirs of a Geisha to get a few ideas.

For Meow Meow's character Bhat had to flatten Deepika's sharp features and also add a tinge of yellow to resemble the Chinese skin tone. Nothing a few layers of foundation could not do. Moving on to the eyes, a base of pearly white eye shadow was applied and the inside of the eyes was lined with white pencil. But it was the eyeliner that did the actual trick. It started thin at the beginning of the eye and then became thicker and stopped just before the eye ended. Below and very close to the lower lash line, Bhat used foundation to make the eyes look smaller, a faux pas she committed while at makeup school. The eyes were complete with grey lenses to give her a cold look.

Lips were pinched with a lot of reds used. For the hair, a wig was rebounded and thinned to appear similar to the reed thin hair that those in the orient have. Sharp asymmetrical bangs gave the edgy look that Deepika's character has.

For Sakhi's part that is of the modern Indian girl, there was not much Bhat had to work on. She used shades of pink as that's what the character is mostly dressed in. The skin tone was a few shades darker than the Chinese and the hair was styled to have a lock of curls at the end and side bangs that were constantly falling over one eye. "

Surprisingly this look took an hour and a half to put together while the Chinese look was complete in 25 minutes! Deepika was very professional. She knew we were working against the odds. She only told me not to use tapes," laughs Bhat. She says that a lot of the ladies are asking for a hair cut similar to Meow Meow's and well, she only hopes it's a trickle down effect of her hard work.

Deepika as the simple Indian girl Sakhi in CC2C

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