Ever since the teaser of Mahanati, the biopic on yesteryear iconic actor Savitri, has been released, the film has been in the limelight for breaking various records on digital platforms. Directed by Nag Ashwin, Mahanati will feature Keerthy Suresh as Savitri while Dulquer Salmaan will be seen playing Gemini Ganesan. The styling for the film was managed by Indrakshi Pattanaik while costumes of Keerthy Suresh were exclusively designed by textile designer Gaurang. The award-winning designer went on a tour and interacted with people who were related to Savitri and knew about the iconic actor. Speaking about designing for Mahanati, Gaurang says, “Choosing the right textile, weaving, texturing, and colouring to lend reality to the look of actress Savitri took many months. Over 100 artisans worked relentlessly to ensure the weaving process was uninterrupted as the whole progression took more than a year and a half from the inception of the costumes to the conclusion of the last shoot.”
On recreating producer Priyanka Dutt of Swapna Cinema and Nag Ashwin’s vision of Mahanati, Gaurang says, “It was a beautiful journey even for me and my team capturing different moods and sequences in the film. Recreating the sensibilities of the actress including elements such as the choice of fabric types and the textures were immensely satisfying for me as a textile designer.“
Gaurang explored and recreated textiles to weave Savitri’s journey from her childhood to her passing away. From Mangalgiri’s and Kota’s with prints for her growing days, to heavy brocades, silks, organza’s and handwoven sateen’s, chiffons for her golden era to subtle rendition for her later life. His team travelled extensively to museums and recreated the textiles of that time. Each and every detail of the textile, design, texture and colour were studied and artisans were guided to recreate it.
About his approach to perfection and meeting the expectations of the director of the film Nag Ashwin, “The director wanted me to make satins for specific scenes, but since I wanted all her looks to be pure handloom, I recreated the satin on handloom, and so for the chiffons and georgettes. For instance, I replicated Savitri’s look for maya bazaar- which was a heavy kanjeevaram lehenga and blouse with an organza dupatta itself. It took us three months to get the colour, design and fabric woven.”