India’s SS Ballet Academy leading the way with online dance classes

Who thought there would come a time when the world would almost be stranded inside their homes. But the pandemic and its lockdowns brought in new realities and even ushered in a new era of Work From Home.

But as the old saying goes, ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,’ people soon realised the ill effects of a sedentary virtual lifestyle. And that’s when, out of the blue, a whole new concept of an online education of dance took birth.

Online learning suddenly seemed to be more exciting than ever. And though dance requires more of a person-to-person interaction in teaching, dance teachers and academies around the world, did find ways to teach it through the computer and mobile screens.

One such academy is SS Ballet Academy (SSBA) headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Founded by entrepreneur Pratyusha Chhajer, SSBA follows the Vaganova Method of ballet dance, which was made internationally famous by Russian ballerina Agrippina Vaganova.

Starting out in Indore, SSBA shifted its headquarters to Ahmedabad recently and plans to expand, with branches in Mumbai and Delhi in the near future. It is a member of the internationally prestigious Conseil International de la Danse (CID) certification, which is an official partner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (popularly known as UNESCO).

Talking about the online dance classes boom, SSBA’s founder Pratyusha Chhajer says, “Online classes not only offer a great opportunity to learn a new dance form, but also build confidence of the students, that too, while they enjoy the comforts of their home atmosphere.”

“Though it’s not the most ideal way of learning dance, it offers an opportunity to many outstation students who can’t manage to come to a new city to learn,” she remarks.

SS Ballet Academy aims to train newcomers and continue to take professional dancers under their wing, to help them reach a world stage.

“The online classes have given them a new chance to opt for distance training and continue their dream of becoming ballet artists,” adds Pratyusha. She further informs, “Inspite of the challenges, we are happy to have a good strength of ballet dancers joining SSBA and continuing their practice with us. They have been participating in different examinations and getting onto the next level.”

As soon as the pandemic situation gets completely normal, SSBA will restart the regular classes, but has decided to also continue with online classes.

Newbie Pranali Sanghmitra Bhagwat to debut with Ek Number Super

Come April and a new talent is set to shine in the entertainment industry — actress Pranali Sanghmitra Bhagwat. The spunky gal makes her debut as one of the main leads in the awaited multi-starcast Marathi movie Ek Number Super.

A very focused and determined person, Pranali has been into acting and dance ever since her childhood. Completing her Bachelors in Engineering (Information Technology) from Pune Institute of Computer Technology, she moved to Mumbai to pursue her dream. Starting out with multiple auditions, Pranali did around 30 advertisements, a web series, a mythological television series and several short films including Abhisarika, before bagging the feature film Ek Number Super.

Pranali plays a goofy and mischievous, yet bold and bindaas character of Meena in the movie. “It’s the role of a light-hearted fun girl. But in a unique way, the film conveys a message about respecting women and not objectifying them,” she informs.

Directed by Milind Zumber Kavde, Ek Number Super is a mystery-comedy revolving around a group of friends on a vacation. It is also the first time that a film with this genre is been made in the history of Marathi cinema. So how different is Pranali’s character from her real life persona?

“I’m progressive, but not boastful and breezy as the character of Meena,” she says with a smile. “Both Meena and I have liberal values essentially. But I’m much more introspective. While I’m spontaneous and adventurous, I seek meaning in everything I do. In that sense, I am quite different from Meena,” she comments.

Pranali has loved to act and dance since childhood. In fact, her family recalls that she began dancing at the age of two. She danced at home and then in school and later did workshops in Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Bollywood dance.

She even got selected and trained by Shiamak Davar’s dance academy in a Special Potential Batch. Pranali has taken formal training in Hindustani classical singing for four years during her school days, performed in various theatre plays later, trained in contemporary dance and even learnt acting at Kishore Namit Kapoor’s acting institute. She then moved to advertisements and acting assignments. Now that’s quite a journey in such a short span. Truly ‘super’, isn’t it?

Pranali credits her parents and especially her mother, for recognising her singing and dancing skills and encouraging her since childhood. “My parents have always been very progressive and their support and encouragement has meant a world to me,” remarks Pranali. “My grit, focus, determination, spirit of survival and constant growth in life comes from them,” she adds.

As Pranali embarks upon her new journey as a lead actress from this week, it’s a model leap for achievers like her who have a single-minded approach to their careers and pursue dreams with never-ending passion. Kudos.

Da Makeup Lab expands workspace with additional studio

Da Makeup Lab (DML), India’s number one makeup and prosthetic design studio, is in an expansion mode. Located in the posh Versova locality of Mumbai, it has fast emerged as the leading outfit for makeup and prosthetic requirements in the entertainment industry.

The premier state-of-the-art studio has opened a new workspace to incorporate more projects. Apart from its main facility, a workforce of around 25 skilled workers have begun lending their talent at the new facility in Versova itself, to create some of the amazing looks produced by the lab.

The rising

Led by makeup and prosthetic character designer Preetisheel Singh D’souza along with her work and life partner Mark D’souza, DML has curated looks for some of the biggest movies in Bollywood.

It’s profile includes names such as Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, 102 Not Out, Housefull 4, Mom, Bala, Chhichhore, Bunty Aur Babli 2, the Southern megahit Master and the recent blockbuster Pushpa: The Rise. The lab has also curated looks for various advertisements featuring names such as Madhuri Dixit, Akshay Kumar and Ranbir Kapoor.

Creative genius

Preetisheel Singh D’souza has won the ‘National Film Award for Best Makeup’ for the pre-Mughal historical epic Nanak Shah Fakir. She has been featured by international media among the top 5 makeup and prosthetic designers in the world, along with Hollywood stalwarts such as Kazu Hiro, Christian Tinsley, Jordu Schell and Neill Gorton.

Her creative genius in the field has worked like a Midas Touch for many a movies, some of them emerging as the biggest box-office blockbusters of recent times.

Force behind the workforce

The company’s co-director Mark D’souza has a degree in Design Studies from the prestigious Griffith University in Australia. Earlier, he dabbled in VFX and animation. While his wife Preetisheel handles the talent and artistic departments of the studio, he handles the business and is the backbone of the company.

Mark’s guidance and expertise has helped DML witness tremendous growth in clients and has led the transformation from its initial days, to the full-fledged state-of-the-art makeup and prosthetics company today.

The future is here

The coming year will also see Da Makeup Lab launching a school for select students of the art. And as if all this isn’t enough, DML has various new projects lined up for release in the coming months. The firm has handled the makeup and prosthetics for top artistes in upcoming films like Gangubai Kathiawadi, Bachchhan Paandey, Ram Setu, OMG 2 and more.

Mrs India Namrata Tolia Shah open to Bollywood

A complete talent package rolled in one!

When a beauty pageant title holder enters Bollywood, the hype and expectations are tremendous. But that hasn’t stopped Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, Neha Dhupia or Manushi Chillar from entering the entertainment industry. So why should it stop Namrata!

Namrata Tolia Shah is the latest newbie to look towards Bollywood. A few weeks ago, the 5.6 inch tall lady won the Mrs India 2021 beauty pageant organized by Skywalk Productions and managed to impress the judges so much that they liberally praised her for her charisma, character, confidence, beauty, wit, wisdom, grace and poise. It was as if she was a complete talent package rolled in one!

A management professional, a business administration research scholar and a vivid international traveller, Namrata loves dancing, acting and even adventure sports. The smart and cheerful gal is also quite vocal about women empowerment and strongly believes in social causes and humanitarian service.

Namrata is from Mumbai and after the Mrs India win, inspite of so many people asking her if she would get into acting, she seemed to be taking her time. “Bollywood would be time-consuming and will take a lot of focus and devotion, but I think I am open to giving it a shot,” she admits with a smile.

It’s been quite a journey for Namrata already. “It wouldn’t have been possible without my mother who has been my constant pillar of encouragement and support,” quips the Mrs India. She credits her mother Dr. Aarti Tolia not only for standing by her, but for being her guide and biggest critic too.

Right now, Namrata is keeping herself busy with a lot of appearances coming her way after the Mrs India win. Sometime ago, she was felicitated by the Goregaon Sports Club in Mumbai, as she inaugurated their cricket ‘Twenty-20 Season 1’. More recently, she was the chief guest and main judge at Incredible NAARI program specially organized in honour of her Mrs India win by the High Commission of India in Tanzania.

Since Namrata has optimistic personality, she takes life head on and in a very positive way. “I don’t know where my life will ultimately take me, but I aim to achieve the world!,” she remarks. Attagirl! That’s the right attitude!

Allu Arjun praises Da Makeup Lab for the success of his look in Pushpa

Even as Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1 continues to set records at the box-office, after emerging the biggest blockbuster in recent times, South style icon Allu Arjun has praised its makeup and prosthetic character designer Preetisheel Singh D’souza and her team at Da Makeup Lab for his stunning look in the film.

Speaking at an event, the superstar who plays the forceful character of Pushpa Raj in the film said that the team of Da Makeup Lab were the “main reason” for the success of his look in the film.

Humbled by Allu Arjun’s gesture Preetisheel shared the clip of Allu Arjun and wrote, “When an actor, so versatile like @alluarjunonline appreciates your work… it only encourages you to do better. Thank you so much for such kind words. It means a ton to the whole team!”

The lab is also behind the makeovers of Rashmika Mandanna and Fahadh Faasil in the film, with their looks too receiving tremendous praise from critics and fans alike.

In fact, Da Makeup Lab, at Versova, Mumbai, has emerged as the number one outfit for makeup and prosthetic requirements in the entertainment industry. It has been the undisputed leader for many years. The studio has been responsible for handling challenging look transformations for many movies such as Padmaavat, Bajirao Mastani, 102 Not Out, Housefull 4, Mom, Bala, Chhichhore, Bunty Aur Babli 2 and another Southern megahit Master.

Their forthcoming films include very interesting names such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiwadi and Akshay Kumar starrers like Bachchan Pandey, OMG 2 and Ram Setu.

Pushpa’s looks leave fans spellbound as the film breaks box-office records!!

“This level of appreciation is a real blessing,” says makeover specialist Preetisheel

Telugu superstar Allu Arjun’s highly-anticipated action-thriller Pushpa: The Rise created a storm at the box-office soon after its nationwide release in various languages. The Part 1 of the movie broke all the records to become India’s biggest grosser of 2021, with a worldwide collection of Rs 173 crores on the first weekend.

Fans who watched the movie flooded social media with appreciation about Allu Arjun, Rashmika Mandanna and Fahadh Faasil’s performances, their unique looks and makeovers. Some called it a masterpiece for the direction, while others appreciated the actors’ looks and transformation that makes the characters look more realistic and believable.

The talent behind all the makeovers (from Allu Arjun’s to Rashmika Mandanna and Fahadh Faasil’s), Preetisheel Singh D’souza, finds herself a little short of words to express her happiness. The makeup and prosthetic character designer remarks, “It’s always a pleasure to hear good things about your work, but this level of appreciation is a real blessing.”

Allu Arjun, who plays a truck driver involved in red sandalwood smuggling, dropped his ‘style icon’ image and donned a rustic look – ruffled hair, tanned skin, rugged beard and sharp-piercing eyes. “He patiently sat on the chair for hours for the transformation and gave all the liberty to experiment,” informs Preetisheel. The hard work indeed paid off as fans are going gaga over it.

She adds, “It was a challenge to create the looks. Whether it was the dramatic avatar of Allu Arjun, the deglamorized version of Rashmika Mandanna, or the bald look of Fahadh Faasil, a lot of work went into making them look the way they do in the film. I am happy that people are finding these drastic transformations interesting.”

But that’s not the only reason for Preetisheel to be happy. This has been a rocking year for her. Besides the success of Pushpa: The Rise, another Southern film Master, where she worked on Thalapathy Vijay, emerged a mega-hit at the box-office. Her film Chichhore where she had designed the old and new looks for all the cast including Sushant Singh Rajput, won the National Award in the Best Film category. She earned a lot of critical acclaim for the various makeovers in Bunty Aur Babli 2. Apart from that her character designs for Divya Agarwal in the ALT Balaji web series Cartel won tremendous praise.

Moreover, her studio Da Makeup Lab in the posh Versova locality of Mumbai, which she runs with her work and life partner Mark D’souza, has emerged as the number one outfit for makeup and prosthetic requirements in the entertainment industry.

What’s more! 2022 looks as promising as 2021. Preetisheel is gearing up for the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiwadi and Akshay Kumar starrers like Bachchan Pandey, OMG 2 and Ram Setu next.

Last but not the least, Chhichhore will be one of the first international films to hit Chinese theatres in 2022. With its release date set for January 7, the first Friday of the new year, some are even talking about it as a sign of thawing of ties between China and India in the coming year.

Preetisheel steals hearts with Bunty Aur Babli 2

Bollywood’s most lovable crooks are back with Bunty Aur Babli 2. The trailer is out and the film is about to release soon. While Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan are playing the senior con artistes, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh are the upstarts who are out to rob the ‘brand name’ of the original pair.

While the various looks of the much-awaited film are the talk of the town, one person who is really really happy with the tremendous response is makeup and prosthetic character designer Preetisheel Singh D’souza. The lady who is known for creating transformative looks for actors in numerous films like Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Housefull 4, Haider, Rangoon, Mom, 102 Not Out, Thackeray, Bala and Chhichhore, has once again outdone herself curating various looks for Bunty Aur Babli 2.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” quips Preetisheel, who recently also acquired a lot of critical acclaim for the various characters played by Divya Agarwal in the ALTBalaji web series Cartel. “When the pandemic hit, everyone was worried about the pace of the film industry. But the way things are picking up, it’s as if we are rolling at double the speed. And I for one, am not complaining,” she cheerfully adds.

Of course she has all the reason to celebrate. It’s been one of the most momentous years for her. Chhichhore won a National Award for best film, her Tamil action thriller where she curated the look for Southern superstar Vijay broke box-office records, and apart from Bunty Aur Babli 2, she has got yet another huge project in Allu Arjun’s multilingual Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1 coming up for release.

For the record, apart from being the No. 1 hair, makeup and prosthetic look designer in Bollywood, she runs India’s premier outfit Da Makeup Lab along with her partner husband Mark D’Souza. The lab’s building is a landmark in the posh Versova locality of Mumbai.

‘Black is beautiful’ gets a new meaning with Da Makeup Lab in Versova

‘Black is beautiful’ is a line synonymous with fashion. But who thought that an inanimate object in Mumbai will bag the tag. But that’s what has happened with the office of Da Makeup Lab; touted as India’s first hair, makeup and prosthetic lab.

Emerging a landmark in the heart of Bollywood in the posh locality of Versova, Andheri, Mumbai, this four-storied imposing black building with coloured dots and huge face murals painted on it, has become a centre of attraction for many. So much so that passersby not only take pictures of it, but often stand opposite it to take selfies with it in the background. Yes, you got that right — selfies with a building.

As for the lab itself, it is buzzing with activity throughout the year, with the company being owned by Preetisheel Singh D’souza and her husband-partner Mark D’souza. While Mark takes care of the business, Preetisheel looks at the creatives, constructing astonishing character designs for a plethora of films including Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Haider, 102 Not Out, Chhichhore, Housefull 4, Thackeray, Bala and the upcoming Gangubai Kathiawadi.

She is a National Award-winner and was recently featured by international website USA Newshour among the top best 5 makeup and prosthetic designers in the world, along with Hollywood stalwarts such as Kazu Hiro, Christian Tinsley, Jordu Schell and Neill Gorton. Also, she was the only woman featured in this top list of world-famous makeup and prosthetic designers.

Meanwhile, the beautiful black landmark building stands tall at Versova main road and keeps amusing everyone. We won’t say, ‘don’t miss spotting it,’ because if you happen to be in that part of Mumbai, there’s no way you can miss it.

Media raves about Divya Agarwal’s Cartel character transformations by Preetisheel Singh D’souza

Compares them with Hrithik Roshan’s look transformations

The news media is going ga-ga over the various character transformations of Divya Agarwal for the web series Cartel. Designed by character designer Preetisheel Singh D’souza of Da Makeup Lab, the various looks show the Bigg Boss OTT winner in different stunning avatars.

An article in Desi Martini praises the looks to great heights saying, “The actress seems to have recreated Hrithik Roshan’s Doom 2 shape-shifting success with her role in Cartel.”

It notes that in one of the transformations into an old man, one “can hardly tell it’s her, thanks to the amazing prosthetics, and in another, she’s a cleaning lady, eons away from what she looks like in real life.”

Recently, Divya shared a time-lapse video of her transformation, diligently being done by makeup and prosthetic specialists of Da Makeup Lab which specialises in hair, makeup and prosthetics, having its landmark base in the high-end Versova locality of Mumbai.

Along with the video, the actress penned a long note saying, “This is how I spent my birthday on 4th December 2019, friends and family were waiting for me at home for celebrations and I was just so proud to start Cartel on that day! This was the cast for my prosthetic makeup, took nearly 2 hours with all my senses blocked except for my nose! I was calm, composed and yet my heart was jumping! There were calls flowing in continuously for birthday wishes, I wanted to scream and share this good news but I couldn’t! somewhere I knew my birthday gift was special that year, it was my last birthday celebration with my dad and I told him I’m doing a web series of your favourite genre and he was very happy.”

Divya plays an assassin in the crime thriller which has been released on Alt Balaji. The series has garnered a very high 8.9 out of 10 rating on IMDb.

Mutants in Versova! Really?

In the Ultimate Marvel universe within the pages of the Ultimate Origins #1, it is revealed that super-powered “mutants” were artificially created via genetic modification by the Weapon X program in a laboratory in Alberta, Canada in October 1943.

However, as far as India goes, mutants have now begun to walk in Versova, Mumbai.

Before you jump out of your chair, let us tell you that National Award-winning makeup and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh Dsouza, who curated looks of Ranveer Singh as Alahudin Khilji in Padmaavat, Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Balasaheb Thackeray in Thackeray and Ayushman Khurana as Bala in Bala, has gone ahead and begun experimenting with mutant figures.

Recently, celebrating the World Art Day on social media, Preetisheel shared a mutant face as an in-house experiment at Da Make Lab, her state-of-the-art makeup and prosthetic lab in Versova, Mumbai.

“Creative expression is our most cherished gift. Happy #WorldArtDay to all the creative artists. Reminiscing the process of creating this look from our first #AnimalXHuman mutant series,” she wrote, announcing that she is gearing up for more.

Must say, the mutant face she shared, does look super intriguing (reminds us a bit of Hellboy, but with full on horns) and we are looking forward to what she creates next.


Nagarjuna is very humble and grounded, says Preetisheel Singh

National Award-winning makeup and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh who has designed the looks for actors like Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, recently got to work with superstar Nagarjuna.

Starting off curating his look for a promo of Telugu Bigg Boss some time ago, she looks forward to work with him again. “Till last year, I was really looking forward to meeting Nagarjuna Sir, as I have grown up watching quite a few of his movies. When I finally did meet him, I found him to be such a warm and welcoming person,” says Preetisheel, complimenting the superstar who will be completing 35 years of his career next month.

“You wouldn’t expect such humility from a person of his stature but he is one of the most humble and grounded stars I have ever met. It was a pleasure working with him and I really hope that we work together again,” she adds.

For the record, Preetisheel Singh has earlier worked for many popular Bollywood films such as Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Chhichhore, 102 Not Out, Mulk, Bala, Andhadhun and Housefull 4. Along with her work partner-husband Mark D’souza, she has also set up India’s first makeup and prosthetic lab called Da Makeup Lab in Versova, Mumbai.

Sushant might have felt a bit vindicated today, says Preetisheel Singh

Makeup and prosthetic look designer Preetisheel Singh who created all the young and old looks for Chhichhore, feels Sushant Singh Rajput would have felt vindicated if he was alive today.

Congratulating Team Chhichhore on bagging the Best Film National Award, “There is hardly any bigger satisfaction to cherish for a creative people, than getting due recognition. The National Award has etched Chhichhore looks in public memory forever.”

Talking about Sushant Singh Rajput and his untimely demise, Preetisheel says, “He sure deserved much more and had a lot to achieve. This National Award for Chhichhore might have made him feel vindicated.”

In fact, Preetisheel herself won the National Award for her first film Nanak Shah Fakir. Apart from Chhichhore, she has earlier worked for huge box-offices successes such as Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, 102 Not Out, Mulk, Bala and Housefull 4, and designed looks for many A-listers including Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.

Preetisheel has also set up India’s first makeup and prosthetic lab called Da Makeup Lab at Versova, Mumbai. Her goal is to bring standards of makeup and prosthetics in India at par with Hollywood.