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‘Making up’ a character

LIZA GEORGE

Pattanam Rasheed helps transform actors into their characters.



His canvas: Pattanam Rasheed doing the make-up for Mohanlal in ‘Paradesi’;

For Pattanam Rasheed the human body is a canvas. And he does wonders on it. He turned Kamal Hassan into an elderly woman in ‘Chachi 420,’ made Dileep into a buck-toothed hunchback in ‘Kunjikoonan’ and his work in ‘AKG 217; had him turning P. Sreekumar into the Communist icon.

With four Kerala State Awards in his kitty, Pattanam Rasheed is keeping his fingers crossed for his latest work in the Mohanlal-starrer ‘Pardesi.’ “I feel it is one of my best works yet. The movie traces the lives of the characters over a period of 50 years. My challenge was to depict them age gracefully,” says the man who won the Best Make-up Artiste award for ‘Aadharam,’ ‘Guru,’ ‘Kunjikoonan’ and ‘Anandabhadram.’

“Most people feel the role of the make-up artiste stops at doing the actor’s face. They fail to realise that it’s not just the face, the body too is important. We help them turn into their character,” says the artiste.

He cites the character Valiayakathu Moosa that Mohanlal plays in the movie as an example. “The movie shows his character growing old. Living in a digital age helps as we can create his growth [age] using computer graphics. But it is also a curse as the latest cameras capture the minute details. As a result we have to ensure each wrinkle, each crease on the skin is perfect (natural) and even or else it jars on screen.”

However, it was not depicting the aged faces that was the only challenge. “The character Mohanlal plays grows bald in the latter half of the film. Usually an actor shaves of his hair for such scenes. Here, we have used prosthetic make-up. We took a mould of his head to create the look. The make-up process of the character took three hours. ”

‘AKG’



A still from ‘Chachi 420’;

He also cites the docu-fiction ‘AKG.’ “If you look at P. Sreekumar, he bears no resemblance to AKG. Photographs gave us an idea as to how the leader resembled. We used prosthetic make-up to give his cheeks a rounded look and added a slight mould to his nose to alter it. The end result: he resembled the leader.”

Such techniques, he says come easy to him as ‘Chachi 420’ had him learning the prosthetic technique from the renowned make-up artiste from Hollywood, Barry Cooper.

According to Pattanam Rasheed, the art of applying make-up is a never ending learning process. And in order to keep himself updated on the latest in the industry, the artiste often accepts assignments which offer him a chance to work with artistes from across the globe.

He has worked on Ismail Merchant’s ‘Cotton Mary,’ which saw him working with Hollywood professionals and on several Arabic serials: ‘Dhuniya Kher’ and Ghazal Tu Hari.’ He also makes it a point to attend workshops.



A scene from ‘AKG’;

“Each film industry has their own approach to make-up. The best, I feel is Hollywood’s. They aim at perfection and professionalism. From them we have learnt prosthetic make-up and the buzzword of the industry in the country now, ‘air brushing.’

The artiste claims he is his own worst critic. “Despite me trying to create a 100 per cent perfect look, there will be a minus one somewhere. However, it is good in a way. I think you become laid back and careless when you reach that 100.”

Actors’ role

Rasheed points out that the actors play an important role in making up the character too. “First they need to be patient and sit still throughout the entire make-up process. The rest is up to them, how they carry it. The production team, from the director to the cameraperson to the costume designer, is important. They help in building up the character.”

Hailing from a musical family, becoming a make-up artiste never crossed Rasheed’s mind. His brother, who was associated with amateur drama troupes, opened the world of make-up to him. Starting off as assistant to several make-up artistes, he got his break in Navodaya’s ‘Onnu Muthal Poojayam Vare.’



Pattanam Rasheed.

“But I first got noticed for my work in T.V. Chandran’s ‘Ponthan Mada.’ In fact, Mammootty, who played the lead role in the movie said that the make-up helped make his character realistic. He won the National Award for his role in the movie,” says Rasheed.

The artiste is busy working on Priyadarshan’s ‘Kanchipuram.’ He plans to set up an academy that trains make-up artistes.

He is now penning his thoughts on “make up and how it transforms the artiste.”

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