Making Zombies look SCARY!
Not many know that the prosthetic make-up in Kamal Haasan's film Vishwaroopam was done by Ritu Janjjani, the wife of actor Kiran Janjjani.
The young enterprising lady, who opened India's first prosthetic make-up institute in 2011, is brilliant in her work.
Her latest film -- Luke Kenny's Rise Of The Zombie -- is up for release, and offers a sneak preview of her talent.
Ritu talks to Patcy N about her unusual profession and how she got interested in it.
How did you get Luke Kenny's zombie film? What's the film about?
A newspaper had carried a story about me. Luke Kenny saw the story and got in touch with me and offered me his zombie film.
It is a serious zombie film about a man, who gradually transforms into a zombie. I don't want to divulge the details.
I designed the look of the zombie after discussing ideas with Luke and the scriptwriter Devki on what happens to this human, who turns into a zombie.
Image: Poster of The Rise of Zombie
'To prepare the make-up, it took me three-and-a-half hours'
Have you created a mask for Luke Kenny in The Rise Of Zombie? If not, how much time did it take to apply the make-up and remove it?
I didn't make a mask because there is progression in the character, so the character's face and body will deteriorate further as the film progresses.
To prepare the make-up, it took me three-and-a-half hours and to remove, it takes 45 minutes.
Apparently, you were going to work in Krrish 3.
Yes, I'd got Krrish 3 but the film got delayed because of Hrithik Roshan's back injury. They were shooting in Hyderabad and I was heavily pregnant, so couldn't travel. So I let it go.
Image: Luke Kenny in The Rise of The Zombie
'When I married an actor, I thought of becoming a make-up artist'
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Delhi, and moved to Mumbai after I married. I was an airhostess with Finnair, and lived in Finland and that's when I first became interested in make-up. I was travelling and would pick up make-up products from everywhere.
When I married an actor, I thought of becoming a make-up artist. I had learnt hairdressing and make-up in Jordan where I lived for two years when I had a job with Royal Jordanian. I was 18 at the time and it was my first job. I did many small crash courses while I was travelling.
I opened a hair and make-up parlour in Mumbai after I came to live here.
How did you think of doing prosthetic make-up?
I knew about prosthetic make-up and special effects and wanted to learn more about it, so I joined the Cinema Make-up School in Los Angeles, California, for a six-month course.
My husband came to LA with me, as he was learning filmmaking there. I started getting lots of freelance jobs as a make-up artist. I did some prosthetic make-up for a couple of student films in my husband's school, and some music videos too.
Now I have specialised in special effects and prosthetic make-up and I love that because I can get as creative as I like.
Image: Ritu Janjjani shows off her talent
'Kamal Haasan wanted to open a prosthetics institute'
Was it difficult getting started? Do you think your profession will be accepted in India?
It wasn't difficult to start here. When I came back from LA, I saw people were doing a lot more than I had imagined. People are happy now that there is a prosthetic institute in Mumbai too, and are interested in learning. They wanted to use prosthetic make-up in movies but it was way too expensive; if we can provide the same in India, it becomes cheaper.
Zee Horror Show uses a ghost mask, but if it is not that expensive, we could do it here. Even for our mythologicals they require prosthetic make-up. I once got a call for a prosthetic Ganesha.
Dhoom 2 used prosthetics, as did Saat Khoon Maaf, and Paa, and in the south they use prosthetics in films. So there is quite a demand. In fact, Kamal Haasan wanted to open a prosthetics institute.
Did you have to struggle?
Not really. I got my first film five months after returning from the US.
The struggle was when I moved to LA, packing up and saving money.
Image: Ritu Janjjani applies make-up to an actor