He can pull off a ganji [vest] in style and make it look cool,” says Navin Shetty, who has been Sanjay Dutt’s stylist for nearly two decades. As the actor readies himself to make a comeback with Omung Kumar’s Bhoomi, there’s talk about his new look for the film. He has been seen on the set of the film in Agra in a kurta pyjama with a cropped, short mane. Dutt is one of those few actors who undergoes a metamorphosis for every one of his films. His looks have become iconic since his debut in Rocky (1981).
Navin says that there’s something unique about Dutt as he can effortlessly slip from playing a brooding gangster to a heartwarming hero. “He isn’t different in real-life either. The guy is all-heart with the DNA of a rockstar. There is an intrinsic aura to Sanju Sir. He commands awe the minute he walks on the set. You don’t need to fuss over him, you just know a superstar is in the vicinity.”
Setting a trend
The stylist says Dutt has always been a trendsetter. In the ’90s, he was the first to sport long hair in films like Khalnayak (1993) and Saajan (1991) before other actors like Saif Ali Khan and Bobby Deol went on to ape it. As Navin puts it, “His long hair was a rage among the girls.”
The first glimpse of Ranbir Kapoor sporting long hair was leaked from the set of the biopic on Sanjay Dutt a few days ago. RK plays Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani’s film. It was natural to ask Navin which would be the most challenging look for the makers to crack.
“Khalnayak (1993) and Kaante, (2002),” he answers promptly while saying, “Sanju Sir never interferes with the work of any stylist. If he has anything specific in mind, he makes suggestions beforehand. His faith in me has always been steadfast. Once I have got him ready, he doesn’t look into the mirror. His confidence sets him apart. Not every actor can wear what he does and look good in it. One of the advantages of working with him, is that he allows you to experiment. Anything you give him becomes an extension of his personality,” Navin adds. One of his toughest tasks was to get the right look for Dutt in PK (2014) in which he played a Rajasthani character. “Once he was in costume, he was comfortable.
Even in churidar and kurta, he rocked the look.”
Though Naveen isn’t the man styling Ranbir for the biopic, he says he is keen to see the young actor replicate Sanjay’s look in Musafir (2004). “He was ultra whacko in it. He wore a blue lens in one eye and green in the other. He had spiked hair, done differently and a toned beard. That is his most loud film and everything in it was outlandish. It will be fun to see Ranbir do that and I have no doubt he will ace it,” he quips, adding, “There was a specific pair of trousers for that film that he had his heart set on. It was the only time in so many years that he’d insisted on something so strongly.”
Another look that will be an uphill task for Ranbir, according to Navin, will be from Agneepath (2012). “He looked bulky and menacing with a shaved head. I am not sure what the biopic includes, but if he has to look anything like Kancha, it will require a lot of work.”
Since Navin has worked with Sanjay and Rajkumar Hirani in the Munnabhai franchise, he understands the preparation that goes into a regular Hirani film during pre-production. Quiz him about the film’s stylist needing help in referencing from him, and he says, “I know that for the biopic, Raju sir would’ve already decided the looks he wants to incorporate in the film. A few rounds of rehearsals would’ve already been done on them. His style of working is methodical.”
Of all the feedback that has poured in for his work over the years, he says the gangster look has been a unanimous favourite with all. “Leather jackets, accessories and boots are his all-time favourites. That’s the one time he loves dressing up. Beads on the neck, earrings, sometimes leather wristbands. Unlike other actors, he doesn’t obsess about branded stuff. Since he can render class to anything he picks up from the street, he has a few local haunts which he frequents.”
Navin, who has worked with Sanjay since Plan in 2004, says, “Sanju has a fetish for watch and sunglasses. He picks up a new one every time he likes something and has an enviable collection. Usually actors ask their stylists for suggestions on their personal collection, but he is inherently stylish, he doesn’t need it. He could be a little possessive about his stuff, but when it comes to photoshoots, he uses his own clothes and looks classically Sanjay Dutt.
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