Her Twitter update announces: “Trotting from Mumbai to Orissa and Andhra next week.” Designer Nishka Lulla, 26, may be a consummate Mumbai girl but she has been racking up frequent flyer miles between the Island City and Hyderabad lately, owing to her film styling assignments. Having styled over 13 films in under two years that she’s been working with the best Telugu and Tamil filmstars, Nishka is fast becoming a name to reckon with down south.
Not surprising, since her mother Neeta Lulla is a veteran fashion and costume designer with four National Awards under her belt for Lamhe, Devdas, Jodhaa Akbar and Marathi film Balgandharva. “I’ve watched her working since an early age, accompanied her on shoots and imbibed a lot of her work ethic,” says Nishka, who launched her fashion label Nisshk in September 2009 and went on to style shoots for actresses Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
It was during a print shoot for southern star Tamanna Bhatia that Nishka bagged her first film styling job. “She liked my work in the photo shoot and suggested I design her clothes for Siruthai.” Weeks later, Genelia D’Souza called, requesting her to style her look for her film Velayudham. And there’s been no looking back for Nishka since.
Apart from Tamanna and Genelia, she has also designed on-screen looks for Shriya Saran and Shruti Haasan and the latest addition to her kitty is Nayantara. “In films, everyone from the actor and the director to the DOP (director of photography), usually expresses their opinion on everything. But in the south they tend to trust the designer and grant her more freedom to experiment with looks and colours, which is why more and more Bollywood stylists are working on southern films. Also, they are very humble, organized and enthusiastic,” says Nishka.
Apart from her film work, the young designer’s connection with south India is strengthened by the fact that mother Neeta is a Hyderabad girl and her grandparents live in the city. “Having been born and brought up in Hyderabad, mom speaks Telugu quite fluently,” says Nishka, who has managed to pick up a smattering of the language herself.
On the anvil are Rebel and Cameraman Ganga Tho Rambabu with Tamanna, and Love Story and Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum with Nayantara. Apart from the challenge of dressing the pretty and demure Tamanna in an “edgy and funky look” in Rebel and giving her a tomboyish makeover in Cameraman, Nishka says nothing tests her creativity like the kanjeevaram.
“Apart from designing kanjeevaram looks for the actresses, I’m also working on shoots for some silk sari brands. Styling the sari, draping it well and making it look different each time is quite a challenge,” says Nishka. Nothing she can’t handle, of course.