The story of India’s No.1 makeup and prosthetic look designer

Chachi 420 changed her life

Today, Preetisheel Singh is a super-accomplished lady. The makeup, hair and prosthetics wiz who received a National Award for her work in Nanak Shah Fakir has worked with the who’s who of the industry, including Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh. The No. 1 look designer of Bollywood has been an integral part of huge box-office successes such as Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Chhichhore, 102 Not Out, Mulk, Bala and Housefull 4.

Recently, in an article in the famous Indian-American publication India West, Preetisheel revealed how she started out and how Kamal Haasan’s look of a woman in Chachi 420 inspired her to enter the world of makeup, hair and prosthetics. Here is an excerpt from the article by veteran journalist Rajiv Vijayakar:

Born to a Sikh family in Pathankot, Singh repeatedly calls her parents “brilliant” for their unconditional support and encouragement at all times. She exults, “After I completed my B. Tech. in Engineering (Electronics & Instrumentation) in 2004, I was hired by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), but I soon realized that I was not wired for such jobs. I was giving my 100 percent, but there was nothing standout that was really happening! I told my mom I wanted to quit, and she just said, ‘Do whatever makes you happy!’”

Her parents are film fanatics and that led to Singh being floored by the 1997 “Chachi 420.” “I was blown by Kamal Haasan’s look as a woman! I came to know that they had to call in foreign technicians for it. I also started digging online into what goes into such prosthetic make-up, initially only just for knowledge. And then I thought, ‘What if I myself do all this?’”

At that time, as luck would have it, TCS had posted her in the US, and Singh resigned, invested all her savings into an expensive six-month course at the Cinema Make-Up School in Los Angeles, and in 2010, arrived in Mumbai, putting up with her sister. She made strategic rounds of producers every day, with contacts derived from JustDial—the Indian search engine.

Predictably, the response was disheartening. Most filmmakers had no clue about her special skills and no requirements either because they did not understand how different she was from the average make-up artiste. But make-up veteran Anil Pemgirikar, who is 70-plus, saw her work, praised her and promised that he would put in a word for her wherever possible.

In 2012, came her first small assignment: of a swollen eye for Akshay Kumar in “Joker,” a film that went unnoticed by the audience. That portion was shot in Chandigarh, and then came the designing of the mutants in “Krrish 3,” under U.S.-based make-up whiz, Mike Stringer.

After finishing her work on the film, in which she helped on the mutants, the production person offered her peanuts as payment and Singh refused to accept the meager remuneration. The person was furious and demanded, “Who do you think you are? Miles Stringer?” Singh recalls, “I told her not to talk to me that way, I don’t owe her anything. But she went on shouting, so I went and told Mike. He got so furious he blasted the person, saying that without me, the mutants would not have been ready on time.”

Gradually, word-of-mouth spread and she got “Nanak Shah Fakir” and “Haider.” The former needed six months prep and she was given a bungalow where she set up a full lab. “I had to do aging for men, make someone’s face fat, show a leper, a chopped off part of a body and so on.”

The rest is history.

Petite Ujali Raj charms with her modest debut in Gulabo Sitabo

For a simpleton from the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, to make her debut in a film starring megastar Amitabh Bachchan and the versatile Ayushmann Khurrana, is like a dream come true. That’s exactly how petite actress Ujali Raj feels after playing a role in Shoojit Sircar’s social satire Gulabo Sitabo. Released on Amazon Prime, the film has Big B and Khurrana enacting a tussle for ownership of a century-old dilapidated mansion.

Ujali Raj - Duet 2“I am really grateful that I have got a chance to work with a prolific maker like Shoojit Sir and witness the magnificence of a stalwart like Mr Amitabh Bachchan and the multitalented Ayushmann Sir right in my first film,” says an excited Ujali. “It’s a lifetime opportunity and I just feel blessed its come my way,” says the pretty gal, glowing and beaming with enthusiasm.

Ujali Raj - Movie Collage 1 (Image courtesy - internet)

Her exuberance is understandable, as Ujali even got a few scenes sharing some screen space with the Bollywood powerhouses of talent. She played one of Ayushmann’s growing sisters, Payal. But in the limited scope her modest role allowed, she made sure she registered her presence in the scenes, doing a fine job.

Ujali Raj - Movie Collage 2 (Image courtesy - internet)

“To prepare for the part, I observed and interacted with some local girls from Lucknow. Visually too, I am looking different in the movie as I have dark makeup and my costumes involved loose fitting clothing,” she quips.

Ujali Raj - Duet 3

Ujali is not a novice to acting. Having graduated in Visual Communication and Theater Arts from Bangalore she has studied at drama school and has done theatre in Lucknow. She has performed important roles in several plays, including Twelfth Night, Nagamandala and Ashoka. Surprising her peers once, she even played a part where she was boldly projected as a bald girl.

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She feels that her experience with theatre was an asset for bagging the role in Gulabo Sitabo. Ujali’s photographs exude freshness and charm, as if an abounding untapped talent is waiting to be discovered by Bollywood. She hopes that Gulabo Sitabo becomes a stepping stone for her to showcase her acting abilities further with more assignments. The bubbly sparkling newbie has her fingers crossed, and we wish her all the very best.

Top 10 transformational looks from hair, makeup and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh

When it comes to transformational looks and makeovers, National Award-winning hair, makeup and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh is the undisputed No. 1 in Bollywood. She has also set up India’s first make-up and prosthetic lab called Da Makeup Lab at Versova, which has emerged a landmark. Here’s a list of the Top 10 looks she’s designed, which impressed every Bollywood buff. What’s more! Most of the films have emerged big money-spinners at the box-office.

1) Chhichhore

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The film had many characters which needed character designs as well as ageing. Preeetisheel had to keep that in mind while curating the looks. Plus, all the characters in the film were being drastically transformed in looks for the first time, which made her job all the more special. But she made sure that the looks matched their characters and also kept them as realistic as possible, which was loved by the director Nitesh Tiwari. Preetisheel designed multiple young and old-age looks for an ensemble lead cast. The film turned out to be quite spectacular. It went on to cross the Rs 200 crore mark at the box-office.

2) Padmaavat

2) Padmaavat

Designing the looks for Padmaavat led to creating the look of the evil ruler Alauddin Khilji (played with aplomb by Ranveer Singh), which turned out to be one of the most iconic villainous characters in Indian cinema, not just for the performance, but also for the look. Preetisheel’s looks for Deepika Padukone (as the legendary queen Padmavati) and Shahid Kapoor (as the Rajput ruler Ratan Singh) and the other cast of the film also earned her tremendous praise. Viewers and film critics alike, were awestruck with the results. Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali was always special to Preetisheel (she had worked with him on Bajirao Mastani earlier), because she got all the creative freedom she needed. He trusted her work and that gave her the confidence to design something very unique and different. The film is reported to have earned Rs 585 crore at the box-office.

3) Bala

3) Bala

Bala was a film where Preetisheel designed the looks for both the main leads, which were totally transformed. The balding look of Ayushmann Khurrana was enjoyed by the audiences and so was the dusky look of Bhumi Pednekar. The film became a hit and was hugely accepted by the audiences all over the globe, grossing Rs 171.45 crore worldwide.

4) Nanak Shah Fakir

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This film is very special to Preetisheel as it was her first film as a hair, makeup and prosthetic designer, and even bagged her the National Film Award for Best Makeup. A pre-Mughal historical epic Nanak Shah Fakir based on the life of Guru Nanak, required the most amount of prosthetics done in Preetisheel’s career. She designed the looks for all the characters in the movie. The film released and re-released amid controversy, but went on to become an landmark for its subject and theme. Reminiscing about it gives Preetisheel immense creative satisfaction.

5) Housefull 4

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For Housefull 4, looks for all the period characters including those of Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Bobby Deol, Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde, Kriti Kharbanda and Rana Daggubati were designed by Preetisheel. Media went ga ga over Akshay Kumar’s bald look in the film and it received a huge opening. Akshay also complimented Preetisheel for her work. The song Bala Bala Shaitan Ka Saala too, emerged a rage. Housefull 4 grossed Rs 280 crore worldwide.

6) Bajirao Mastani

6) Bajirao Mastani

This was Preetisheel’s first movie with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It gave her a chance to prove herself to him, as the maker focuses on the minutest detail. All the characters in Bajirao Mastani turned out outstanding and that’s what gave Preetisheel a masterful footing with period films. Especially, Ranveer Singh’s look as the Maratha Peshwa Bajirao earned Preetisheel good recognition. The film was reported to have grossed Rs 356 crore at the box-office.

7) 24

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24 was the first time she got a chance to work with Southern superstar Suriya. Preetisheel found him extremely down-to-earth to work with. 24 was hailed as one of the classiest movies in terms of looks and special effects, and went down in history as great fine art. She got to work with Suriya in more films later. The film earned 150 crore at the box-office.

8) Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW)

8) Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW)

RAW had a lot of disguises on John Abraham who plays a spy in the film. That by itself was super exciting for the makeup and prosthetic whiz. She found him amazing to work with as he was very open to the idea of prosthetics and very patient getting into the various looks. Some of his disguises in the film were so good that even his fans could not recognize him in the movie stills which were released before the film.

9) 102 Not Out

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Creating super-aged looks for Amitabh Bachchan (as a 102-year-old man) and Rishi Kapoor (playing his 75-year-old son) is yet another highlight of Preetisheel’s career. Working for this Umesh Shukla film was interesting for her, but she also admits that it was tense. Apart from their seniority, Preetisheel knew that both Bachchan and Kapoor had worked with some of the best international names in makeup and prosthetics. She did her best. Luckily, they loved the looks and so did the audience. Though the film was not a typical Bollywood potboiler, it earned a handsome 115 crore at the box-office.

10) Mom

10) Mom

Mom had an amazing script to start with and transforming the look for Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the first time was quite exciting for Preetisheel. His receding hairline and buck tooth look in the film, almost made him unrecognizable. The film was a success, earning 175 crore at the box-office. Preetisheel later worked with Nawazuddin again for the film Thackeray, where she transformed his looks into that of the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray

Preetisheel Singh behind South style icon Allu Arjun’s look in Pushpa

National Award-winning look designer Preetisheel Singh, who has designed looks for Bollywood biggies like Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, John Abraham, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shahid Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana and Ranveer Singh, has now teamed up with South style icon and superstar Allu Arjun for his upcoming film Pushpa, creating a look which already has the masses anticipating more.

The makeup and prosthetic designer has done a lot of detailing, including colour, tan, and a hairstyle to match the rugged bearded look of Allu Arjun with piercing eyes. The actor recently shared the first look of the film on social media and the poster instantly went viral.

What’s more! The poster emerged the most liked first look on Twitter with more than 84.k likes in 24 hours. Currently, it has 17.3k retweets and 98k likes on the micro-blogging site.

According to the grapevine, the film is based on red sandalwood smuggling and set in the backdrop of Seshachalam forest, the hilly ranges part of Eastern Ghats in southern Andhra Pradesh. Directed by Sukumar, Pushpa is touted to be an action entertainer, with the shoot being planned after the nationwide Coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Known for her transformational work in Bollywood, Preetisheel also owns and operates India’s premier outfit Da Makeup Lab along with her partner Mark D’souza.

After Chhichhore and Housefull 4, Preetisheel Singh hits another hattrick with Bigil

Preetisheel movies collage 8

While Chhichhore has crossed the 200 crore mark, and Housefull 4 is roaring at the box-office with a collection of 53.22 crore in just three days, another movie of National Award-winning makeup and prosthetic character designer Preetisheel Singh is doing stupendous business.

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Bigil is the latest blockbuster from Tamil film industry Kollywood’s megastar Vijay, who has become synonymous with Diwali releases in the South, as Rajinikanth is with Pongal or Salman Khan is with Eid in Bollywood. Recently, Shah Rukh Khan described Bigil as Chak De on steroids.

Preetisheel movies collage 7

For the movie, Preetisheel has designed two looks for Vijay in a double role, one a footballer and the other as a gangster. “Bigil was a very exciting project as we had to do two different generation looks,” says Preetisheel.

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“Vijay Sir doesn’t speak much but is a gem of a person. My experience with him has been amazing. He is very welcoming and very easy to talk to,” she quips, adding that she has curated another look with him for a movie which will go on floors soon.

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Preetisheel has earlier achieved a hattrick a year ago, when three of her movies Padmaavat, 102 Not Out and Mulk hit the bulls eye. In recent months she has also garnered abundant praise about her work for Andhadhun and Thackeray.

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She has been behind some of the best looks of a plethora of top Bollywood stars like Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Madhuri Dixit, Nawazuddin Siddiqui,  Radhika Apte, Ranveer Singh, Salman Khan, Shahid Kapoor & Sunny Deol.

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Her work will soon be seen in forthcoming movies like the Nawazuddin Siddiqui-Radhika Apte-starrer Raat Akeli Hai, Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Bala, Kartik Aaryan-Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Pati Patni Aur Woh, Sunny Singh-starrer Ujda Chaman, Kangana Ranaut-starrers Panga and Dhaakad, and Bhansali Productions’ Tuesdays and Fridays.

 

Shahid, Sonam, Ayushmann praise Mandana Karimi on Bigg Boss

After a week of standing for what she believes in, Bigg Boss 9 housemate Mandana Karimi got loads of accolades for her looks too.

Actor Shahid Kapoor who entered the Bigg Boss House with Alia Bhatt for the promotion of Shaandaar, told the housemates that people outside are quite enamoured by Mandana’s looks. Akash Soni, senior anchor from IBN 7, Delhi, broke into a Persian poetry song for her and called Mandana “the only realistic and honest person in the House.”

Mandana Karimi - Pic 17 (Image Courtesy - Dale Bhagwagar Media Group)

Even Sonam Kapoor, who joined Salman for the promotion of their movie Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, judged Mandana her favourite. She praised the Iranian import for improving her Hindi and making good rajma (kidney beans) on the show.

As if that was not enough, actor Ayushmann Khurrana who was also a guest on the weekend episodes, applauded her for “understanding the Bigg Boss game and planning the best.” Salman retorted in jest that Ayushmann was calling her “manipulative” and “scheming”, but Mandana said that going by the format of the show, she takes Ayushmann’s comment as a compliment.

Mandana Karimi - Pic 11 (Image Courtesy - Dale Bhagwagar Media Group)

“I have asked Mandana to be herself on the show; but expressive and assertive in difficult times. And that is exactly how she is facing the situations inside. Am proud of her grit and determination,” tweeted her publicist Dale Bhagwagar.

“We have seen the brainy and strong side of Mandana, but she also has a very emotional as well as glamourous side,” he revealed on social media, indicating that she is still an unexplored package on Bigg Boss.

Meanwhile, the highlights of the next episode showed the gutsy gal countering her partner Keith Sequeira, who she is tied up with. “I’m not going to get brainwashed by you,” she was heard telling Keith during a task.