The best thing about being an actor is that you can play so many different characters. While we enjoy the various characters our stars play on screen, the work that goes behind the screen is something that is often overlooked. Making the characters look real is not just about acting it’s also about the look. Creating that perfect look that makes the character real, believable and lovable is a strenuous task performed by talented makeup artists. It’s only because of these professionals, the stars we love look the way they do. Discovering Mumbai presents NamrataSoni, an award winning makeup artist and hairstylist, who has worked on films like Main Hoon Na, Om Shanti Om and many others.
|Namrata Soni, picture courtesy Elle magazine|
Namrata is Mumbai girl from the western suburb of Juhu. She completed most of her schooling from Good Sheperd International School in Ooty. Later she returned to the city to continue her education at Jai Hind. College was the time when she started to develop interest in makeup and hair styling. “While in college, just to ensure that I didn’t while away my time just hanging around, I started going to work at Colleen Khan’s salon,” says Namrata. To enhance her skills further she got enrolled for Marvie Beck’s makeup course. While the course did teach her a lot about the field, she felt that her thirst for knowledge had not been satiated. Namrata then decided to pursue further studies in makeup and hairstyling from London. “It was the best thing that I could have done! It gave me a sense of individuality, it made me who I am today and it was a brilliant experience,” says Namrata.
Armed with all the latest knowledge acquired from London she stepped into the industry. But even a degree from London doesn’t ensure an easy ride here. “It was tough at start. I had to do everything from making coffee, cleaning brushes; I was doing everything and getting the flak for everything!” In order to bring her work to peoples notice she had to do a lot of free work. “I have spent hours outside the offices of art directors for an interview,” she says. When she looks back at those days she feels that it was the best training period that she could have had in her life.
Namrata’s first big break came in the form of Main Hoon Na. Very early in her career she was working on Shah Rukh Khan, Amrita Rao and Zayed Khans hair. “I was working with extensions which were very new for me. It was very challenging, as it used to take 6 to 7 hours for the extensions on Zayed’s hairs,” she says. The biggest challenge was the long working hours on a movie set, which easily stretched to 14 hours a day. Also her shoot timings, which would sometimes require her to wake up at 4 AM or come home very late in the night, had her mother worried. “I was travelling alone in autos, buses and trains; my mother was very concerned,” she recalls.
|Namrata with her IIFA Award for the movie Om Shanti Om|
Her most exciting and memorable projects have been Om Shanti Om and Aisha. “With Om Shanti Om I was working on prosthetic makeup, which was new for me,” says Namrata. However, Farah Khan showed a lot of faith in her, which in turn helped Namrata execute her work to the best of her capabilities. Aisha on the other hand was all about fashion and fun. “In one day I was doing 10 different hairstyles with 10 different outfits. It was very challenging,” she says. She has worked with a lot of stars but the ones she admires the most is Sonam Kapoor, for her willingness to experiment. Shah Rukh and Anushka Sharma are other celebrities with whom she has enjoyed working with.
The profession does look glamorous, however, Namrata warns that it is not as simple and straight forward as it looks from the outside. “Actors go through a lot while making a movie and as makeup artists who are working very closely with them, you are subjected to their irritation and anger,” says Namrata. But as professionals one has to take all of this in their stride and continue. This, however, does take a toll on one, and it is essential that people realize when to take breaks. “I try not to do films back to back as it is very exhausting.” Also working on movies becomes very monotonous after a while as you end up doing the same make up, the same look for a long time, unlike ad films or magazine cover shoots which are more creative in nature.
Having spent 8 years in the industry she has learnt many valuable lessons. “One needs to stay away from gossip. It’s a very small industry, and you have to be professional. What you hear at work, you leave it at work,” she says. Also it is important to separate your personal life from the professional life. She feels that young professionals some time mix up their personal and professional lives, which can lead to disasters. She says that one should just give your best, let your work do the talking and then people will keep calling you back.
Namrata has won many accolades, including an IIFA award for Om Shanti Om and Femina Womens Award. But is not taking her success for granted. “There is a lot of young blood coming in to the industry increasing the competition. I feel it is a good thing as it keeps me on my toes,” she says. She is constantly working towards upgrading herself, travelling abroad every 18 months to learn the latest trends and technologies. She is planning to go to London soon to train on advanced prosthetics. A Yashraj project with Sonam Kapoor is also on the paper. People also keep asking her when she is going to start her own makeup and hairstyling academy. Though she would love to open one, she feels that right now she is not experienced enough to impart knowledge.
“Stamina, creativity, honesty,” says Namrata, on being asked about the qualities that a makeup artist should possess. Also it is important to be who you are, don’t change yourself just because you have entered this industry. For those who are thinking about becoming a makeup artist, she says, “Do a course in India first. See if you actually want to do this.” Though it may look a very cushiony job, it actually involves a lot of hard work. She also suggests that one should definitely go abroad for further studies in this field, “It is a completely different world and culture of makeup out there.”
To conclude we have some makeup advice and tips for the season from Namrata. Here you go – “Go for emerald and turquoise eyes, both look good on Indian skin. They can be used either as eyeliner or eye shadow. Fresh dewy skin is in now. Graphic eyeliners are also very in. For lips, red and fuschia pink are very in.”
You can follow namrata on Twitter - @soninamrata