An Exclusive Interview of Meher Ahmed- A fashion director and an artist at heart

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A fashion director and an artist at heart, Meher has worked with some of the most renowned publications, fashion houses, brands and Celebrities. She has styled for many A list Corporate Firms and Jewelry brands as well.

Her work includes styling celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor Khan, A R Rahman, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Shilpa Shetty, Huma Qureshi, Jim Sarbh, Chitrangda Singh, Randeep Hooda, Angad Bedi, Tamannah Bhatia, Kali Koechlin to name a few.

She’s also styled campaigns for brands like Coca-Cola, American Tourister, Mc Donalds, Jet Airways, Dove, Jade, Jaipur Jewels to name a few. She was also the team design head with Manish Malhotra for the much-acclaimed musical Mughal-E-Azam. She’s also been associated with film projects one of them with renowned  Hollywood actor Barkhad Abdi, called Beneath A Sea of Lights and her latest is with the very reputed Director-writer Bhaskar Hazarika’s film AAMIS. This film presented by Anurag Kashyap. Lima Das and Arghadeep Baruah played in a lead in this film where Lima Das is styled by Meher Ahmed. In a candid chat with us Meher shares about her work for this movie.

Nirmali wearing a Gari weave Mekhela Sador to work.

Expresso. What was Bhaskar’s brief to you and how did you go about it?

Meher Ahmed: After reading the script I listed a questionnaire of sorts for all the characters and discussed with Bhaskar to visualize each character better. Once the brief for the look and feel Bhaskar wanted was clear, I had the complete freedom to execute his vision in my own way. I wanted to keep the look and feel of Aamis as real as possible. Most of the clothes were aged or pre-used in order to have a more realistic version. I used to have a small set up, a corner of sorts in the Metanormal office to only get clothes aged!

Expresso: On dressing up Lima…

Meher Ahmed: When I first met Lima, any missing links about Nirmali in my head connected instantly. Working with her was fun since she’s not stuck up and is open to experimentation. That really eased a lot of pressure off me. One of my most cherished looks is the outfit that I made for Nirmali in her dream sequence. Although it was a costume designers dream getting shattered as it was barely seen. But anyway, I felt Nirmali looked so out of the world in that costume. Seeing Lima Ba transform so easily into so many different personalities was a delight.

Neetali Das who plays ‘Jumi’ and Lima Das in traditional Assamese Pat Silk Mekhela Sadors.

Expresso: On her look and personality…

Meher Ahmed: Nirmali as a character is a modern-day working woman who is also very rooted in her culture. Bhaskar wanted that to be one of the central points of Nimali’s look. So most of her look was in Mekhela Sador which Lima Ba was very comfortable wearing. But throughout the film, we see her in regular wear and in dresses too. Her personality and look were more classic and muted than jazzy or bright colours. Also, it’s very important to understand how the film is being shot. Me, Bhaskar and Riju – our DOP –  we sat and discussed on the overall look and feel of the film and depending on that Nirmali’s colours were decided. What emerged out of this discussion was to have a very subtle change in Nirmali’s colours, clothes and even lipstick colour as the film progresses to better showcase her state of mind. These are very minute nuances but it is equally important to have them as an element of visualisation.

Lima Das between takes.

Expresso: The tradition of Mekhela..colours, weaves, etc..

Meher Ahmed: As I’ve mentioned earlier it was very important to keep Nirmali’s clothes as realistic as possible and close to the Northeastern culture. So most of her Mekhela Sadors has been sourced from actual people and not bought to give a more used feel. A brand new Mekhela Sador can make the character look fake and flashy!

So in the film, you see Nirmali wearing not just Mekhela Sador but also Arunachali Sarong called Gaale which she wears as home wear in a few scenes. She wears Bamboo Chignon, which is very commonly used in Assam and also simple Traditional Assamese jewellery for her everyday wear.

There’s a notion outside Assam that Mekhela Sador is only formal wear, which is not true. And through Nirmali I could get that whole picture out there. Mekhela Sadors is woven in cotton and part silk for everyday wear too and that’s what is shown beautifully through Nirmali’s character. Different tribes of Assam have their own signature weaves. Some of her Mekhelas are from Mishing and Miri tribes. The one she wears in the wedding sequence is a pure Muga, which is a traditional Assamese Mekhela.

 

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