He is 80 years old and has spent over 60 years giving make-up to the biggest film stars. But ask Pandhari Juker about the recognition he has received, and his voice trails off. It’s the story of many a make-up artist in Bollywood – though things have improved over the years.
“There are awards for actors, actresses, costume designers but no award for make-up artists? Why?” asks Juker referring to popular film honours.
“Amitabh Bachchan completed 40 years in the film industry and was felicitated. I have been working in the industry for the past 62 years, of which 42 years I spent with Yash Chopra…but we cannot say anything,” he told IANS, measuring his words.
Make-up artists make stars look the way they do on screen. But they rue that not only does recognition elude but they also face discrimination and these days they have to compete with foreign workers who get paid much more.
“It’s a sad situation that make-up artists are not given due respect. We also work for 16-18 hours a day, away from family, in extreme cold and extreme heat,” make-up artist Ojas Rajani told IANS.
Ojas, who took a course in the Miami School of Design in the US, has 17 years of experience and has worked with actresses like Malaika Arora Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.
He also did Aishwarya Rai’s make-up in “Robot” and “Action Replayy”. “But I didn’t get credit for my work in ‘Action Replayy,” he rued.
Bharat of the duo Bharat and Dorris claims very few make-up artists are satisfied.
“It is true that the importance of make-up artists has increased over the years, but despite that, out of 100 only 10 would say they are satisfied with their work. A lot depends on where the person is working,” he said.
Juker, who has worked with stars right from Meena Kumari and Dilip Kumar to Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit, says: “Everyone wants to look good on screen and we make them look good. It feels bad when our work is not recognised.
“Dilip Kumar used to say whatever we are, 80 percent is because of the make-up artists and the rest 20 percent is our acting,” said Juker who did a diploma in make-up from Mosfilm Studios in Moscow and runs a make-up training institute in Mumbai.
They also feel discriminated against.
“When a make-up artist accompanies an actor, he or she has to travel separately while the star travels business class. An actor or actress stays in a five-star hotel; their make-up artists are put up at lesser known hotels, some 30 minutes away,” he said.
There are good training institutes like Pankake: Make Up Training Mumbai, which offers a five-week course at Rs.90,000, including tax. Fat Mu Pro Make-up, again in Mumbai, has an eight-week course and the fee is Rs.100,000 plus service tax.
Nahush Pise, a trained make-up artist from Los Angeles with 12 years of experience, also runs an institute and offers eight-week courses at the cost of Rs.84,000. VLCC has three institutes in Mumbai and offers three courses and charges somewhere between Rs.16,000 to Rs.30,000.
Indian make-up artists also point to movies like “Paa”, “7 Khoon Maaf” and “Action Replayy” roping in foreign hands.
“Why is there a need to call make-up artists from abroad when we have such talented people in India like Mickey Contractor, Deepak Sawant and Vikram Gaekwad? Vikram is someone who can give a person a complete makeover,” said Juker.
“They can give Rs.3-4 crore to foreign make-up artists, but they can’t give it to us,” he said.
However, he admitted that things have improved over the years.
“In the olden days, we used to earn Rs.70 to Rs.100 per month. But now it has drastically increased. Make-up artists work on a contract basis. And those who are good can easily earn between Rs.18 lakh (Rs.1.8 million) and Rs.20 lakh a year,” said Juker.
Bharat said, “Financially, the situation has certainly improved. The remuneration has doubled and the importance of make-up artists has also increased.”
Ojas also notes that actresses have started supporting their make-up artists.
“It feels nice that actresses have started to stand up and are adamant about wanting a particular make-up artist. They sometimes even refuse to come to the sets if they don’t have that particular make-up artist,” he said.