Master Strokes: Iconic Makeup Artists Designing Bollywood Looks For Decades

Jan 14, 2022, 17:36 IST

Master Strokes Beauty

The portrayal of a character in any Hindi feature film is enhanced by the look, and, therefore, the role of makeup and hair in Bollywood has always been indispensable. Whether it’s Amitabh Bachchan’s a rare genetic disorder (progeria), orRekha’s surrealmakeup in the 1981 period drama Umrao Jaan, the role of prosthetics and makeup in the Indian film industry has been underrated but crucial. It’s mesmerising to see an actor transform into a character,making the hard-hitting dialogues they deliver on camera more credible. Indeed, makeup and hair  can help shape a character as much as the actor’s dialogue and skill. From Sadhana’s iconic fringe cut and curtain bangs, to Sharmila Tagore’s winged eyeliner, Bollywood’s beauty looks have set trends for decades. It’s not wrong to say that, beauty has always been a major pillar that aids the building of a persona. It’s time to laud the artists of Indian cinema who have played a pivotal role in designing these unforgettable looks for decades.

And, as we pay homage to them, it is also important to talk about the legendary talent that we have lost in the recent past, who picked up makeup brushes at a time when beauty was an unexplored arena. Veteran makeup artist Pandhari Juker, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 88, was one of Bollywood’s most iconic makeup artists,
who worked with prominent actors such as Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand. He was a pioneer when it came to makeup in the industry and trained many prominent makeup artists such as Mickey Contractor and Bharat Godambe. Considered the ‘Godfather’ of makeup by many, Juker was recognised with a National Film Award for his contribution to the industry for over six decades.This year, the film industry also mourned the death of another lauded makeup artist, Shashi Satam. Known and fondly remembered as Shashi dada, he was long associated with actors such as Jackie Shroff and the late Rishi Kapoor in almost all their films. Having worked in the industry for almost four decades, Shashi dada was known for some memorable cinematic looks, which include Kapoor’s Karz and Shroff’s Hero. And now, we look at trailblazers who are currently setting beauty goals for the industry.

Master Strokes Beauty

If you’re a Bollywood lover, you’ve definitely heard of Mickey Contractor. If you’re a makeupenthusiast, you’ve most definitely bookmarked his work. Contractor, a favourite with celebrities such as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kajol, is also the name behind some of Bollywood’s most iconic beauty looks. Who can forget Rai Bachchan’s dainty and subtle beauty in Hum Dil Chuke Sanam or his most recent work in Veere Di Wedding designing Kapoor Khan’s contemporary-yet-effortless looks? Contractor made every girl fall in love with makeup that embraces simplicity and enhances natural features. Contractor started as a hairstylist in a salon back in the ’70s; a chance encounter with legendary actor Helen made him join the world of beauty within the realm of Indian cinema. The rest is history! Today, his work speaks of his legacy and the niche he has created for himself in the industry. After almost five decades serving the best of Bollywood, Contractor is a brand within the industry, a bridge that connects the Hindi film industry with the evolving world of beauty. Contractor started as a hairstylist in a salon in the ’70s; a chance encounter with legendary actor Helen made him join the world of beauty within the realm of Indian cinema


Master Strokes Beauty

A protégé of Juker, Vidyadhar Bhatte started as his assistant in 1974 on iconic projects such as Deewar and Kabhie Kabhie. Having worked on over 80 Hindi films (and over 15,000 commercials), Bhatte has worked with legendary actors such as Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar and Sunil Dutt and contemporary lead actors such as Rani Mukherji, Vidya Balan, Anushka Sharma and Dia Mirza. In his 40-year-long career in Bollywood, Bhatte is known for his character
and prosthetic makeup skills, popularising the concept in times when prosthetics was tougher and trickier to do without advanced tools and accessories., giving actors the look their character demanded.

Deepak Sawant

Master Strokes Beauty

Deepak Sawant has been the makeup artist for Amitabh Bachchan for over four decades. In 1973, Sawant also opened a one-room ‘parlour’ with his wife,which has grown exponentiallyover the years, but the ace makeup artist has worked closely with Senior Bachchan on all his films and projects in between. According to one of Bachchan’s tweets in 2020, Sawant has not taken a single day off since he started working for the actor.Sawant, who joined the industry on a whim, realised that makeup is an art when he saw the late actor Rajesh Khanna transform into a different character with makeup for the film Dushman. He started as Khanna’s personal makeup artist on Daastaan at Rs 200 a month. He met Bachchan on the sets of Raaste Ka Pathar; the actor liked his makeup and asked the production team for him as his personal artist. Since then, Sawant has only been associated with Senior Bachchan. Apart from working as a makeup artist, Sawant has also made four Bhojpuri and Hindi movies; all four starred Amitabh Bachchan.