The year 2018 is a career-defining one for Pradeep Rangan. A makeup artist in the Malayalam film industry for almost two decades, it took him all these years to earn a name. The man behind the makeover of Unni Mukundan in Chanakyathanthram and Jayaram in Panchavarnathatha, Pradeep is happy that his work is finally being recognised. “I have been in the industry since 2000, where I started off assisting makeup man Aji Sreekaryam,” recalls Pradeep, who joined his relative Aji to learn the nuances of the art. He was quick to learn and after assisting a few other stalwarts, in 2007 he went independent with the small movie Subhadram. Since then, he has worked in the movies of all major directors — Joshiy, Rajeev Ravi, Shaji Kailas, B. Unnikrishnan, Saji Surendran to the latest league of Don Max, Sajith Jagadnandan and Ramesh Pisharody. “It’s been 95 films,” he reveals the exact number.
Makeup, he says, should gel well with the character’s background and outlook. So Pradeep always makes it a point to study well about the character before deciding on the look. “Because if makeup appears fake, it would affect the credibility of the character,” he points out. Unni’s feminine avatar as Karishma had grabbed eyeballs when the first look of Chanakyathanthram was out. What made it stand out is that unlike the earlier roles of male actors appearing in feminine avatar, there is no vulgarising in makeup or costumes. “That was a conscious decision. Karishma had to be fresh and elegant, unlike most of the similar makeovers that were gaudy. The director (Kannan Thamarakkulam) gave the go-ahead,” he says.
It was easier said than done. The process was tough. Pradeep collected the stills of all the famous feminine makeovers of actors across the industries and decided to work on the sketch. “The sketch of Karishma is heavily drawn from the style and look of Anushka Shetty because I felt that she and Unni have similar features. I used contouring to focus on the shape of Unni’s chin and face. Unni has sharp eyes; to bring in the cuteness factor, I used green-grey lens, which made his eyes deep. A special wig was brought from Chennai. Everyone was impressed with the result,” he recalls.
Equally challenging was Jayaram’s bald look in Pisharody’s directorial debut Panchavarnathatha. He adds, “Along with the bald look, Jayaramettan was given big prosthetic ears and a huge pot belly. Shade-based makeup was used on him.” What the audience has seen is not even half of what is in store. Both the movies have many characters in different get-ups, but Pradeep won’t divulge more. “I am waiting for the release of both the films in April,” he says. Also in the pipeline are Kiran Prabhakaran’s Thakkol, in which he presents Murali Gopy and Indrajith in different get-ups, Althaf Salim’s Neeli and a Rajeev Kumar directorial.