Nivedita Koliyot had her dream come true when she got to work in the recent Tamil period movie Ponniyin Selvan: 1.

It was watching another movie by Mani Ratnam – Iruvar, back when she was a student of fashion, that encouraged her to be a costume designer. Now, as an assistant costume designer associated with Mumbai-based ‘Team E’, led by designer Eka Lakhani, Nivedita got to be part of Ponniyin Selvan: 1, which she says, was a dream project for her team.

Hailing from Ashokapuram in Kozhikode, Nivedita has been with Team E for around four years. Being part of the south Indian franchise of Team E, she has been part of designing the costumes of several Tamil movies such as Aditya Varma and Vaanam Kottattum, besides the web series Queen based on the life of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

Designing the costumes for the characters in Ponniyin Selvan: 1 was one of the most challenging jobs for Team E, she says. “We had to conduct extensive research on the costumes of that era, the fabrics used, and the culture. Some of the designs were inspired by Tanjore sculptures,” she said.

With the movie being a popular piece of fiction in Tamil Nadu, the public have an idea of what each character looked like. The costumes needed to bring out the characters exactly as the viewers envisaged. “With no written documents of the era available, we travelled extensively through the regions that used to be part of the Chola dynasty to study the dressing styles and then sketched the designs for each character. The fabrics were custom-made for us by the weavers in Tamil Nadu,” Nivedita said.

Kanchipuram silk was extensively used for the female characters performed by Aishwarya Rai, Trisha, and Shobhita Dhulipala, as it was a major part of the costume of the affluent people of the time.

Nivedita is now on a brief break from work and is spending time with her mother in Kozhikode. She wishes to work in the Malayalam film industry for some time and make an effort to popularise the Kerala handloom.

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By Dipak

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