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Alumni Connect: Costume design is one of the few avenues where you can put all the skills, say Utpala Barve

The idea of making something from scratch, using clothes as a storytelling method, is very appealing.

pune Updated: Apr 06, 2018 17:23 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,maharashtra,Utpala Barve
Utpala Barve, costume designer(HT PHOTO)

Utpala Barve is making heads turn in the Hindi film industry. She is an established fashion designer who also spares time to read and listen to podcasts. She is a lover of languages and she loves to quiz, too!

Where did you do your schooling?

I studied at Bal Shikshan Mandir English Medium School, Kothrud till my 10th standard. After which, I studied science from Garware college, Pune for the next two years. I also have an advanced certificate in Spanish.

I graduated from School of fashion technology (SOFT) in 2011. The best part about studying in SOFT was that it delved into every aspect of fashion design. As a student, we got an opportunity to find out what we liked about fashion and also to pursue the same. l found out that costume design is one of the few avenues where you can put all the skills learnt in college to good use.So I end up using my sketching skills for character sketches.

I have designed bags and accessories for many occasions. I design and interact with tailors a lot, so all the stitching classes, and fabric lessons, embroidery lessons are a big help. The faculty teaches us history of fashion, history and wealth of fabrics and styles, especially sarees that you can find in India. When you are designing costumes for period films, that knowledge comes handy.

How did you fare as a student?

I was quite a good student in school. I took part in a lot of school activities. I was the college topper for all the three years and was awarded the best student in my graduating year.

What drove you to chose this career path?

I was always fascinated by movies. I had been stitching and sketching clothes for as long as I can remember. So working towards becoming a costume designer, seemed the obvious choice.

The clothes we wear say so much about who we are. When we create costumes for characters, it’s like we are giving birth to a new person. The idea of making something from scratch, using clothes as a storytelling method, is very appealing. At college, they try to make you think of clothing as a living breathing entity. Something that exists beyond just a garment you pick up in a store. It has a history. People have worked on it and it has a particular style.

What did you do after graduation?

I picked up lot of skills in college and I was all set to go. After graduation, I took up a small project at Film and Television Institute of India(FTII). I used to design and make costumes for their student projects. I continued my studies further and got my Masters from the London College of Fashion in costume design.After coming back to India, I started working in Mumbai and have been part of the costume team in many few feature films. I explore and do many projects on my own. The exciting part of this career is that it provides the chance to work in industries and places, that a normal workplace just would not take you. I have worked on Marathi, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu movies and each place have a different work culture and environment.

What about the highs and lows of your career?

One of the films that I worked on ‘Rangoon’ with designer Dolly Ahluwalia ‘Rangoon’ won the star screen award for best costume. It was a difficult project and was very gratifying to see it appreciated.But the film business is fickle. So there are times when you have dedicated a lot of time, effort and money into a project and the project falls through for one reason or another. That can be heartbreaking.

What are your upcoming/current project?

Right now I am working with Stylist Eka Lakhani, on a Mani Ratnam film. It is a big movie in Tamil with many leading actors in it. To work under Mani Ratnam, who is a legend of cinema, is a great opportunity.

First Published: Apr 06, 2018 17:12 IST