Exclusive: Designer Nachiket Barve on his National Award, fashion and more

There are flashy designers and then, there are just designers who are timeless and speak with their craft and textiles. Nachiket Barve sprang onto the Indian fashion scene in 2010 by launching his eponymous label and the rest is history. Known for his individually hand crafted garments which represent India’s true diversity, Barve was silently working on his passion – designing enviable ensembles and arrived one Friday, when the fashion connoisseurs celebrated his big win for the Best Costume Design at the prestigious 68th National Film Awards. We spoke with the very humble man over the weekend and discussed his big win, Tanhaji, fashion and more. Here are some excerpts from the same.

Reaction post the big win?

Nachiket: When the call came, I was very pleasantly surprised, most delighted and grateful.

What went into designing the costumes of Tanhaji?
Nachiket: This was a mammoth project because it required almost two years of research and development. I went to museums, saw people’s private collections, I did textile research across the world, hunted down and looked for karigars to revive the old craft. So, whether it was weaving of saris or jewellery made from molds made 400 years ago for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s family or whether it was finding leather craftsmen who would be able to craft the leather costumes with authenticity and skill, it was a mammoth effort. There was also an effort to make this realistic and authentic while letting it be cinematically pleasing and beautiful, not lose on the essence of what we were trying to say.

Tell us something about the Maratha flavour that you have put across through your clothes in the movie.
Nachiket: Maratha culture has been depicted onscreen before, but I wanted to do it in my own way where it felt like you were seeing characters onscreen and not actors, and especially such famous and well known actors with such long and illustrious careers. So, to kind of make people believe and get drawn to the story was a big challenge. It was very-very exciting. The cast was incredible. There were veterans like Ajay Devgn, Kajol and Saif Ali Khan, they were just superb to work with. They trusted me so much in their vision, allowing me to do what I wanted to do, while they felt secure and celebrated onscreen. Also, creating a character like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a massive responsibility as he is like a deity to people, and then to present it in a way which feels real and honest onscreen is something I am grateful for.

How was it working on the project?
Nachiket: The credit goes to the whole cast and the crew of the film, especially our director Om Raut, who’s a genius. With a film like this, there are hundreds of people involved in the making of the costumes. Whether it is craftsmen or the key costumers, secondary costume designers, assistant designers, tailors, dressmen, so many people make up this gigantic crew. With over 300 people on the set on any given day, it used to actually take an army to dress them up!

What is keeping you busy currently?

Nachiket: I have just finished three films in the last year and they’ll be all out soon. The first one is Adipurush with the director of Tanhaji, Om Raut, then there’s a multilingual film coming out in Diwali called Har Har Mahadev and there is one more film, Slice of Life.

Your future plans.
Nachiket: I have my own fashion label and that means a lot of work and it’s very exciting but that’s a different universe and costumes are a different universe, so it’s exciting to balance both the worlds and do justice to both of them, and then you get an award like this, which is the highest award in the country, it really gives you a boost and encourages you to do better work. So hopefully, there will be opportunities to delve more in costumes and do the kind of work I would like to do.

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