'Sonam is my favourite, Sonakshi has the best skin'
Several Bollywood stars, including the regulars -- Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Freida Pinto -- are getting ready for their trip to Cannes, host to one of the most high profile annual film festivals.
Rubbing shoulders with international showbiz royalty entails that you arrive armed with the classiest outfits, makeup and accessories.
Giving a helping hand to these Indian beauties in the makeup department this year is makeup artist Namrata Soni.
Credited with doing make-up for films like Om Shanti Om, Kabhi Alvidha Aa Kehna, Musafir, Main Hoon Na, Jan-e-maan, EMI, Salaam Namaste, Aisha and I Hate Love Stories, Soni is all set to jet off to Cannes as the official beauty expert for L'Oreal Paris.
Here, she talks to Rajul Hegde about what her job will entail at the festival and her experience in Bollywood so far.
How are you going to present L'Oreal's Ambassadors Sonam Kapoor, Freida Pinto and Aishwaraya Rai Bachchan at Cannes?
I have created six looks from Bollywood and Hollywood keeping the L'Oreal Sunset collection in mind.
It's a combination of all the eras from the 1960s to the 1990s and the current trend of make-up and hair. The six looks will suit Caucasian and Indian skin.
The L'Oreal Ambassadors might use the liner or green eye shadow in a certain way but this is our version of what the quintessential black liner is, inspired by actresses like Rekha, Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore and Saira Banu.
Basically, it's an Indian mix with a modern twist. So you will see a lot of this on the Cannes red carpet but, again, we will do what suits them best.
Image: Sonam Kapoor in a L'Oreal ad
'Cannes must take notice when Indian ambassadors walk the red carpet'
Will you be accompanying the Indian Ambassadors?
I am accompanying Sonam. I will be doing the make-up for Sonam and Freida. I am there only from May 14-18. Another make-up artist from L'Oreal will do Aishwarya's make-up.
I will do their hair as well but I can't reveal much as it's a surprise. The make-up is going to be pretty much from the Sunset palette.
We have used Sonam as our muse to showcase these looks for the media. She is stunning and beautiful, which makes my job easy. Hair is going to be inspired by the outfits they wear.
Of the actress you have worked with, who can carry off make-up very well?
Sonam can carry off make-up very well because she is willing to try out new things. She carries it with so much confidence and makes it work.
A lot of new actresses like Deepika Padukone are also sporting so many new looks. It's such a pleasure to see that. In the early and late 1990s, actresses were so scared of make up that they would do the same eye shadow, gloss mouth and smoky eyes.
Today it's so nice to see these girls with blue eye shadow, red, orange mouth and pink lipstick.
It's nice because they are the beautiful people in the world and it's time the world knows them. Also, Cannes must take notice when Indian ambassadors walk the red carpet.
Image: Freida Pinto at Cannes, 2012
Photographs: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
'Sonakshi has the most beautiful skin, it requires no makeup'
Who has the best skin?
Sonakshi Sinha has beautiful skin and it requires no makeup.
Who is your favourite?
Sonam. My career as fashion make-up artist was defined because of her. We have worked hand in hand to create these amazing looks for her. And she has showcased every single look to perfection.
How does one get into this profession?
I started in 2003. It was just by chance.
I did hairstyling at Colleen Khan's salon. She advised me to try make-up. I did a workshop with the well known Marvie Beck and realised I had a knack for it.
I decided to go to London to study it further, specialising in prosthetic and casualty make-up. Since then it's been my mantra to go every two years to upgrade myself, whether it's in Paris, New York or London.
For a make-up artist, it's very important to keep up with the current trend. Styles are changing and new products are launched every day.
Image: Sonakshi Sinha
Photographs: Courtesy Clea Public Relations
'Main Hoon Na was my first project'
Who is your idol?
My mom. I grew up trying on her Estee Lauder make-up. When I started she went to her dressing table and picked up the beautiful make-up and gave it to me in a kit.
She inspired me in everything I did. She was beautiful and would wear pink, red, orange... you name any colour. She told me not to get scared to experiment with lipsticks on actress.
Which was your first Bollywood project?
Main Hoon Na was my first project. I did hair styling for Shah Rukh Khan, Amrita Rao and Zayed Khan. That was my entry into Bollywood and it was a lot of fun.
I was working with SRK, the biggest star, and it was a challenge to wake up in the morning for styling at 3 or 4 am, which I was not used to. It prepared me for what was lying ahead for me in this industry. It's been one amazing project.
What was Shah Rukh Khan like?
SRK was encouraging. If I got nervous, he would say it's okay, baby, calm down. You need someone like him to encourage you. He has always made me feel special.
I have been doing his body make-up from Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om to Ra.One. In Om Shanti Om, he called me to do his body make up to enhance his abs. I was jittery that I was going to touch Shah Rukh's body!
It helps when the actor says that you have done a fantastic job when you are on big sets, surrounded by hundreds of people.
Image: Amrita Rao, Shah Rukh Khan and Zayed Khan in Main Hoon Na
'If you make one mistake, your career is over'
What has been your most challenging work yet?
In Om Shanti Om, I had to make prosthetics for Kiron Kher and Arjun Rampal. I had to make them look older -- from 30 to 60 -- and it was challenging because I was new and (director) Farah Khan gave me an opportunity to do that.
You are under scrutiny like under a magnifying glass; if you make one mistake, your career is over.
I am blessed because I created Sameera Reddy's look in Musafir, which was appreciated. I did Aisha for Sonam and girls went crazy about it.
I have been lucky to be part of projects that are young and happening. The next YRF film I'm doing has a very fresh, young vibe and girls are going to copy Sonam all over again.
Is this an easy profession to be in?
It's not easy. My family has been very supportive. I would not have been where I am today without my mom and sisters.
Image: Deepika Padukone and Arjun Rampal in Om Shanti Om
'I would love to do Rekha or Madhuri Dixit's make-up'
Do you like working with young actresses or seasoned ones?
I love young actresses but I would love to do Rekha or Madhuri Dixit's make-up. Rekha still looks beautiful.
Among the current lot, I have worked with everyone, except Alia Bhatt.
Which actress is the most difficult person to work with?
Nobody is difficult to work with; it's all about the perception and how they want to look.
As a make-up artist it's our job to do something modern on them but make them feel comfortable. For me, the challenge is let me try a different kind of foundation...the secret is going step by step.
Most of the new actors are sporting it and it's really fun to see.
My next film is with Sonam, a Yash Raj film with Ayushman Khurana. It's a fresh pairing. Sonam has an everyday look in the film with a modern twist. We have experimented with eye colour and lip colours.
Image: Madhuri Dixit
Tips to look tops!
The make-up artist's guide to diva-like glamour
Drink lots of water, that's the key to have beautiful skin.
Never leave your home without sunscreen.
Kajal is my favourite -- wear waterproof during summer.
Always curl your eyelashes and put mascara, which will looks wide-eyed and beautiful.
Start experimenting with lipsticks. They will always make your look younger and always make you look like you are more in fashion.
If you have oily hair, just tie a high ponytail --you will look amazing -- or a side braid.
A quick way of doing curls: blow-dry your hair with heated rollers, it will not damage your hair. Leave it for half an hour till the roller is dry and cool, open it up, brush it and you will have the most gorgeous hair.
Image: Sonam Kapoor