He is the best we have – the brand ambassador of Mac cosmetics in India. But even Mickey Contractor has faced challenges. “Long hours of work, being away from home for long periods, constantly fighting weather conditions to keep make-up intact are just some of the challenges,” he says.
Though Mickey has worked with the biggest artistes in the business, he prefers to keep the look simple. “I would think the clean, no make-up look is best.” He doesn’t generally cite favourites but does concede, “I’ve worked with a lot of beautiful women but the one face that does justice to any look I create is Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan.”
His idea of perfection? “Perfection is overrated; having said that, beautiful skin and proportionate facial features would be it,” he muses.
Ask him if he has had any bad experiences with stars and he smiles. “That’s best left unsaid…” What does interest him is the look he creates. In his words, “The looks I create for movies are script/character appropriate. As long as it meets the approval of the director and the star, I’m happy.”
Changing make-up trends are not something that worries Mickey. He is wise enough to note that “When you take a classic element and tweak or modernise it, it becomes a new trend.”
Stars apart, he even advises filmmakers on the looks of their characters. “I have enjoyed all the movies that I’ve done under the Dharma banner. I’ve worked on all of Karan Johar’s movies and being part of that unit has also been extremely creatively satisfying.”
Vipul, a legend in the make-up industry, has been wielding his brushes for over 30 years. He has worked with celebrity designers for high-end fashion shows, international celebs like Kyle Minogue and other A-listers. His versatility and experimenting with new trends keeps him engaged. But he still loves the charm of actresses of the past. He says, “For make-up, I feel India has far better artistes than any other part of the world. In terms of prosthetics though, other artistes are far superior. Having said that, I feel Indian make-up artistes work best for Indian actresses. Our stars across the decades – from 60s to the 2000s – are just so stunning!
One good change, says Vipul, is that thankfully, star tantrums have reduced. “People today are very well organised. Earlier, we would get to hear that ‘so and so star got sick in the morning’ or ‘her boyfriend ran away’ or ‘she has missed a flight and not landed’ and similar excuses,” he laughs. He has had the opportunity to work with some of the best. “Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Malaika Arora Khan, Dia Mirza and Sachin Tendulkar are wonderful people to work with and it is a lovely experience to know them so closely. They are all very down to earth, cooperative and open to suggestions,” he says. Others on his client list include Poonam Dhillon, Riya Sen, Asin and Neha Dhupia to name a few.
“My biggest challenge is that every time you perform, you have to give your 100 per cent,” he says. “You cannot go wrong as the scene is so competitive today. You have to educate yourself every single day. You have to compete with your own people and those from other countries.”
They are a formidable hair and make-up duo who have worked across generations in their 35-year-odd journey in Bollywood. Many stars had their debut films enhanced with the Bharat and Dorris look: Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, Rani Mukerji, Juhi Chawla, Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone... the list goes on! Speaking of his favourite film Bharat says, “I’ve been working as an artiste since the ‘70s and every era had its own charm. Working on Om Shanti Om was extremely exciting. Also working with Parveen Babi on movies like Shaan, Namak Haram and Kala Pathar was enjoyable. A lot of stars are now like family.”
They believe that great skin is a big win for beauty. It is perfection without make-up indeed! Bharat says, “You really can’t please everyone… What matters is if the person who I am doing the make-up for, is happy and confident. Besides that, a minimalistic and fresh look is always a crowd pleaser.”
Their most memorable shoots, they say, were Om Shanti Om and Saawariya as both films had retro looks which were rather challenging. Bharat adds, “Frankly, it is the people we work with that make us love these experiences the most!” They have now taken their passion to another level by launching their own cosmetic brand: ‘B & D’.
Mallika Bhat loves her job as a make-up artiste as it gives her the best of both worlds. She gets to travel, meet lots of stars and other people and form a close knit family with her unit. “I have had a blast. Most films I have worked on, have been shot abroad. It’s been like a holiday – you are away from home, everybody around is young and you meet people of similar age groups.” She has worked with the best and is apparently Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira’s go-to person.
Of all the star looks she has crafted, her favourite is Kareena Kapoor’s in Kambakht Ishq. But she adds, “Every person has her own charm, I don’t have bad stories to share”. Her strong belief is that beauty has flaws. “There is nothing like perfection; If you can live with your flaws and work on them, every woman is beautiful. My idea of perfection is living with imperfection and making it your USP.”
Like other make-up artistes, she agrees that people are now more aware and brand conscious about the products being used on them. “Everything is available at the click of a button, there are people on Instagram doing tutorials. They might not be the best, but people are following them.”
Her favourite films: “Whether it is Deepika Padukone in Chandni Chowk to China, Kareena in Kambakht ..., Kajol in Fanaa, Bipasha Basu in No Entry, or Priyanka Chopra in Anjana Anjani I have had fun!”