The making of a cult
When budgets are not unlimited, an idea comes along and saves the day.
Every single time.
Next comes the exercise of bringing the idea to life - where we'll try to push all kinds of personal creative boundaries. The 'Can't Let You Go" music video was in effect our first blank canvass. And not having any lines to colour inside, was a little intimidating in the beginning but once we got used to it, we loved it. Freedom does take a little getting used to. Our director Sahit Anand crafted a sensory carnival ride for the audience. He had a dark tale in mind - kidnapping, female mobsters, boxing pits, grime, lust, violence, savagery - the works. It was almost like he made a list of things he hasn't filmed yet and intended to tick a bunch of them off, by the end of this video.
The theme is a dark one - Behram gets kidnapped by a female mob for no apparent rhyme or reason, gets beaten up, finds love and escapes within an inch of his life. Creating a female mob from the ground up proved to be a creative candy store. But first - a name. The director came up with "Bad Mother" and we thought "cool". The video was set in a riding school - so leather, steel, denim and grunge created the obvious fit. We had the guys from Kalakarah design us a gang insignia - the referencing leaned heavily on the vintage elements of classic rock and biker gang-esque imagery. The result? A menacing skull with roses and braids, that sat so well on the backs of rugged denim and leather jackets, screaming bad business.
A cult must have a cult leader. A stone-faced, tall, menacing lord. For the Mob Mother, we took inspiration from movies like Maleficent, Underworld and Blade. Our stylist Amritha Rajavelu designed a flowing black dress with a thigh-high slit, accompanied with a flowing hooded cape with a crimson lining.
We wanted individual looks for the rest of the cult. This included a way to distinguish the generals from the foot soldiers and the members. For weeks, Amritha scoured and combed the lengths and bylanes of Commercial Street to create the look. We used inspiration from Mad Max Fury Road and Amy Lee and other Goth elements to put together the look for a group of women with very nefarious intentions. Every article of clothing was carefully put together and nothing was "as-is" from the shop shelf. The embellishments were sourced from shopkeepers who gave her the "What's wrong with you" raised eyebrow and the "Well, it's your money" shrug, in that exact order, when she asked for their rusty and broken and damaged ware. Rusty chains, spikes, nuts, bolts, washers, met denim, faux leather, velvet and lace to become the cult’s clothing. Everything was made by hand, and for a couple of weeks, our office space was a rhapsody of chaos.
It buzzed with the electricity of ideas and execution. If only we could have bottled it and drunk it first thing in the morning for the rest of our lives!
The generals were given a look with heavy military tones. Nazi side caps, lapels stars and double breasted jackets. Stockings were ripped and denims were distressed and worried with to create something individualistic. When combined with vertigo heels, the soldiers’ look had equal parts sex and grunge appeal. The members were given looks that suited their frame and personalities. A few favourites from the lot were the Manic Minnie and the Hammerhead and the Hellerina.
Parvatii Nair plays the angel of mercy in the film. And her look was designed to show vulnerability and kindness. Her curves were emphasised with a corset and a pair of high cutoffs. A scarlet stole broke the severity of her otherwise black ensemble.
We wanted to give the tribe a sense of anonymity. Other than the Mob Mother, the rest of the tribe was homogenised by a thick band of black eye paint. While this singled out the Mob Mother as an unmistakable superior, it relegated the others to a tribe - just like how a nun's coif does. Other than in terms of styling they had no other identity.
Makeup artists Sover and Sabit gave the girls hairstyles and looks that amplified their inner demon. MTV Roadies Winner and celebrity bodybuilder Shweta Mehta played the heavyweight champion who kills for sport. Her manic strength was visually interpreted by dreadlocks and a cropped jersey that highlighted her muscles. The Hellerina, played by Diya Naidu - one of Bangalore's most renowned dancer-choreographers, was given a Tim Burton-esque interpretation of Frieda Kahlo - a homage to both - bringing out her inherent unorthodox creative persona.
Watch the behind the scenes video right here.