Making these Aisha gals look hot!
Mumbai born and bred Namrata Soni's love for hair styling started when she was in school. In fact, she was the resident hair cutter at her boarding school.
During her college summer vacations she worked at a salon and assisted hair stylists. Later she decided to take up a full grooming course in London.
Once back from London she assisted Dilshad on Main Hoon Na and then branched out on her own with Musafir.
Since then she's been juggling between films, fashion cover shoots and ad films. Her filmography lists include Om Shanti Om, I Hate Love Storys and now Sonam Kapoor's Aisha.
Soni tells Nithya Ramani more about Aisha, and herself. Excerpts:
From cutting hair in boarding school to a well known hair stylist and makeup artist, how has your journey been?
I was very apprehensive about cutting hair for the first time. We didn't even have proper scissors, we were using kitchen scissors that were available in the dormitories. I was a little scared but I realized I had a steady hand so it was fun at the end of the day.
Nobody cut my hair but I cut everybody else's. I was a little stylish during college, so I would have these bob cuts, or mushroom cuts and layered cuts. I used to keep a very close eye on who would cut my hair and how they would do it.
How did films happen?
To be frank, I always wanted to do fashion shows and advertising. But films kept falling into my lap. I learnt a lot from every single film I've worked on. I've learnt to strike a balance between films, fashion and ads.
Assisting Dilshad on Main Hoon Na was a good learning experience. I got to cut Shah Rukh, Amrita Rao and Zayed Khan's hair. It is also where I got to work on hair extensions. Dilshad was the first in our country to start this trend.
Once Main Hoon Na was done, I got to do my first solo film Musafir. I had to style Sameera Reddy. It was very difficult as I was alone. But it was a challenge and I learnt a lot from it.
After Musafir, I returned to London to know more about hairstyling and makeup.
How did Aisha happen?
Aisha solely happened because of the two sisters Sonam and Rhea Kapoor (producer). I met Sonam at a photoshoot years ago when she was shooting for Delhi 6. We reconnected later at another photoshoot where she asked me if I was interested in doing a film that she had in mind. She told me that it is costume drama. Now, as an artist what more could I ask for?
It is every makeup artist's dream come true. Nobody has done a film like that. Every character was given so much importance and detailing. For every character we had every single look planned out way in advance -- be it makeup, hair style, costumes or the accessories.
Image: Namrata Soni with Sonam Kapoor
'Sonam had 70 outfits which were teamed up with a different hair style each time'
What was the brief for Aisha?
For Sonam it is very Audrey Hepburn look. She is this classic beautiful girl, who just needs to wake up and look stunning. This was something easy to do on Sonam because she is a naturally stunning looking girl. She has so much character on her face that a little tweak of eye makeup or lipstick changes her completely.
We could have gone completely high fashion with Aisha but we didn't. We limited the high fashion and makeup trends to a few scenes.
We decided on very simple and minimal makeup for Sonam. We used a lot of blush for her. It is only in the polo match that we used the red lipstick, and smoky eyes for the salsa song.
We played a lot with her hair. She had about 70 outfits and every single outfit was teamed with a different hair style. It might be just a tweak here and there but is changed the entire look.
We had mood boards and character boards for every character. For example, Amrita Puri is a behenji character as she hails from Bahadurgargh while Ira Dubey's character is spunky.
How long did it take for you to decide on the looks?
We had a look test for the costumes, makeup and hair one month in advance. Rhea, Pernia Qureshi (stylist), Rajshree Ojha (director) and I sat down and discussed what should be Aisha's look. We pulled out magazine references and actor references that would define Aisha's look. We mixed and matched the looks and tried different combinations, took photographs, decided on a look and made a file of it and catalogued it.
Every look, every scene was put together. This was done for all the girls and the boys and made into different books and catalogues for each.
Rhea and Pernia went shopping before that and got everything from all over the world that was needed for the looks. On the day of shoot, all we had to do was take out the file and the bag of costumes, shoes and accessories and put them together on the actors. There was no confusion or tension.
On the day of shoot, Sonam's makeup and hair didn't take more than 45-50 minutes and the other girls, all put together, wouldn't take more than an hour.
Image: Sonam Kapoor
'Lisa Haydon was the sexiest of all'
Walk us through the looks of the other girls...
Amrita Puri had a behenji look complete with bushy eyebrows. We kept her look simple and real. Even her transformation was kept realistic. We didn't give her smoky eyes just because it was fashionable. For the transformation, she simply blow dried her hair. There were times when she had go from behenji to glam on the same day.
Ira, on the other hand, has the most insane costumes in the film. She is almost half naked with skimpy outfits. But she was so chilled out to wear the typical Manish Arora type of dresses.
She has the most amazing body and equally amazing hair. Like with Amrita, we haven't played with her makeup much. We did experiment with her hair though. We gave her lots of hair bands and hats.
Some people go over the top with the makeup and hair which takes away focus from the costumes. We couldn't do that. Her look is very spunky so we played with tinted lip balm in corals and pinks. We kept her makeup very minimal and real. She is an amazing actor. I think it is in her genes. There were scenes when I would have tears in my eyes by just looking at her. She can move you with just her voice.
But Lisa Haydon was the sexiest of all. She is very beautiful and fun to work with. Her makeup was very subtle. When I say completely no makeup look, trust me, it was complete makeup free.
Because her character is an executive in a company, we kept her hair straight and tied in a high ponytail.
Coming up with such varied looks must have put a lot of pressure on you...
You have no idea. Sonam's for example was frustrating. More than anything it was her nail polish that drove me crazy. Her character wears a lot of black, midnight blue and red nail polish. We had to keep changing her nail polish every time. In one week we had to do five different looks and we had to give her different nail polish for every look. I went crazy trying to remember what colour should go with what. I was so frustrated that I told her I am never changing nail polish in a movie ever again. The only good thing was that we kept her makeup very simple because we didn't want her to look very tired.
Sonam has the most beautiful hair and we could do anything with it. We had to persuade her to cut her hair. Pernia and I wanted to cut her hair because it changes her look and character. We also slightly lightened her hair to give her a younger, fresher and modern look. Some days I had to deal with straight to curly to high pony tails to braided hair. It was insane.
Image: Lisa Haydon, Amrita Puri and Ira Dubey
'I don't think we ever slept'
How was it working with the team?
It was a great team to work with. Pernia and Rhea were very willing to try new looks every time. Generally hair stylists and makeup artists don't have meetings with the director. They do what their actors ask them to do.
Working with Rhea was such a pleasure. She is so young but so talented. She gave us so much creative freedom. There is no other producer who has given me so much freedom apart from Farah Khan. She is a woman who has always been way ahead of her times.
I feel so lucky to have worked with Farah, Rhea and Sonam that I am spoilt now. I don't think I can work with any other producer again.
Sonam too was very good. She just knows what she wants. She was very sure that I would be perfect for it.
Sonam gets into the character of all her films. I have done her looks in I Hate Luv Storys and Thank You. She is very particular about her look because she wants it to portray her character.
It worked out very well and I have not had more fun like we did on the sets of Aisha. Till date, if anyone were to ask what my favourite films are, I would have to say Om Shanti Om and Aisha.
It was so much fun that I didn't feel like I was working. The cast is so young that they were willing to try anything and everything. Sonam says, 'Namo do whatever you want.' This kind of freedom is very rare.
I don't think we ever slept. We hung out together, gossiped, talked, discussed, ate, ate and ate. The whole team were foodies and all we used to do was discuss what to have for nashta (breakfast), lunch and dinner.
Rhea is such a foodie that we would know everyday what our menu for the day was going to be.
Image: A still from Aisha
'SRK told me that nobody has felt up his body as much as I have'
Since Main Hoon Na was your first film, you must have been awe-struck by Shah Rukh?
No and I think this is because he is so normal. I had to do his body painting for Om Shanti Om. He told me that nobody has felt up his body as much as I have. Farah would scream at me not to feel his body so much. It was so much fun.
I loved working with Salman Khan too. I had to do his makeup for Jaan-e-Mann where he was disguised as a woman. It was so much fun doing that.
We were shooting in New York and he plays this jealous man who tries to keep Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta away from each other. They had hired a foreign makeup artist to do it but later realized that it wasn't working so they asked me to do it. I was then doing Preity's makeup then.
He was so chilled out and relaxed. He let me do whatever I wanted. He just sat there without any airs. He kept saying that he didn't realize just how long it takes for a woman to get ready.
The whole set had only five females including Farah Khan because she was choreographing the whole film and Salman would bring us all a box of Ferrero Rocher (Italian) chocolates every day.
How did your parents react to your line of work?
I either had to go to London School of Economics or had to do this. I had to choose between the two and I am glad I chose this. I thought that I should give this a chance because I wasn't someone who could do a regular 9-5 job.
My dad was upset but mom was very supportive. She was the one who stood up for me and let me do what I wanted.
Now my dad has finally come to terms with it. He is glad that I am someone and doing something that I am proud of. It is also because the industry has changed.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om