Saturday, January 12, 2008

Making it all up

Make-up artist, Binesh Bhaskar, makes actors look authentic on screen

By Shevlin Sebastian

Veteran director Thampy Kannanthanam was playing the role of a cruel administrator in an orphanage in the children’s film, Oliver Twist, in 2006. When make-up man Binesh Bhaskar, 33, went to see him, he had turned the end of his thick moustache downwards to create an impression of cruelty.

Binesh plucked up his courage and said, “You should cut the hair at the sides, be clean-shaven, and, if you put on coloured lens, it will make you look sinister.”

Kannanthanam asked Binesh about his career. Satisfied by what he heard, he said, “Nobody has spoken to me like this before, but I will follow your instructions.”

So, Kannanthanam had his hair cut and got a good shave. Then Binesh inserted brown lens into his eyes. “When Kannanthanam saw himself in the mirror, he shook my hand in appreciation,” says Binesh. “He said, ‘You have succeeded in making me look cruel’”.

In his ten-year career, Binesh has done make-up for most of the stars, including Mammooty, Jagathy Sreekumar, Nedumudy Venu, Indrajith, Sreenivasan, Manoj K. Jain, Kalabhavan Mani, Divya Unni, K.P.A.C. Lalitha and Samvritha Sunil.

So what is the secret of a good make-up? “Most people think that the purpose of make-up is to make the actors look glamourous, but that is not true,” he says. It depends on the scene, the character and the mood.

Binesh gives an example: If a star acts as a cobbler, he will have to put the make-up in such a way that signifies he has spent a lot of time in the sun. “Even if Mohanlal was to play this role, I can’t make him look glamourous,” he says.

Actress Samvritha Sunil says that Binesh’s make-up always suits the character she is playing. “For example, in Vasthavam, I play a homely woman and he ensured that my make-up was natural and light,” she says. The strength of Binesh, she says, is that he does a lot of homework about the scene before he applies the make-up.

Binesh agrees and says that he ensures that he gets an idea of the storyline by talking to the director and the scriptwriter. “I need to know the psychological state of the character in a particular scene, as well as the economic and social background,” he says.

Actor Indrajit says Binesh is one of the more talented make-up artistes among the younger generation. “After he does his make-up on me, I feel very satisfied,” he says.
However, the attitude of actors towards make-up is mixed. Senior artistes like Nedumudy Venu and Jagathy Sreekumar, who have been in the trade for a long time, know that a good make-up makes a big difference in the presentation of a character. “So, they are patient and give time,” says Binesh.

On the other hand, younger artistes are impatient and want to finish the make-up quickly. But after they gain some experience, “they begin to understand the importance of make-up,” says Binesh, with a smile.

Make-up is important, but in the long run, is it bad for the skin? “Skin does not get damaged by make-up,” says Binesh. “I have discovered that make-up keeps the skin young. It is a protection against the sun, the dust and the powerful lights.”

However, at the end of the day, you have to make sure you take it off, he says, otherwise, the skin does not get a chance to breathe and will be damaged.

At his office on Powerhouse Road, Binesh comes across as intense and focused. “I feel odd sitting in my office today,” he says. It has been two months since he has come here, since he did back-to-back work for two films. “To be frank, I prefer to be on a film set.”

But make-up assignments in the Malayalam film industry are not so frequent, because the number of films produced every year is not high. Says Binesh: “In 2006, I did seven films, but in 2007, I only did two. Hence, I make advertisement films to keep the home fires burning.”

Born in Adimali, it was in high school that Binesh showed an interest in writing scripts and acting. Since his father was the manager of a local cinema hall, he also saw films several times a week. He began acting in school plays and decided to embark on a career as either a scriptwriter or a director.

However, an acquaintance, Unni, who was an assistant director, told him that because he had no backing or technical expertise, it would be difficult to get a breakthrough. So, he decided to become a make-up man, since for school plays, he had already done make-up. He became an assistant to established make-up artiste, Pattanam Shah. Thereafter, he worked for P.V. Shankar for a few years before he became independent.

Asked whether the profession was competitive, Binesh nods in the affirmative. “There are plenty of new technicians, but, unfortunately, the number of films is not going up, so the opportunities are few,” he says.

These youngsters are waiting for an opportunity to get a breakthrough, and they would not think twice of sidelining a senior. “These things happen,” he says. “Seniors don’t give room for others to come up, so they have to fight to get the space.”

(Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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