Indulge one-on-one: Prasanna meets designer Osman Abdul Razak to talk style, acting and men’s fashion in Chennai
All those who know Osman Abdul Razak, would also know that he is a man who walks the talk — from head-to-toe, and he did just that when we met him on a rainy afternoon at Club Crest, in Phoenix MarketCity. He is here to meet with Kollywood’s Prasanna, who waits patiently; wired to his phone. The duo meet us days after working together on a national advertising campaign, in Mumbai. The afternoon was filled with promise and it seemed like the two friends had a lot to talk about.
Looking sharp in their tailored self-coloured and pinstripes blue suits, designed by Osman himself, Prasanna and he immediately get down to a game of snooker. While Osman hits a perfect shot, Prasanna tells us that the closest he has come to playing snooker is for a film role. He reminisces that it was a film that had his wife, actress Sneha starring opposite him and the character required him to know the game. However, snooker is still not his cup of tea, he says with a smile. With an eye for sartorial detail, Osman immediately compliments Prasanna to say he loves how the actor has evolved over the years — from strict gym workouts to a positive profile change to developing his own style.
Osman, who is also the Creative Director of Chennai-based men’s clothing brand Gabbana.life adds how the film industry is a good platform to experiment with fashion, which in turn enables designers like him to grow.
However, Prasanna immediately cuts in to say, “I have always wanted to be presentable, but could never imagine myself wearing designer brands because I believed it was for a different league of people.” Osman points out that there is a misconception about designer wear and while a lot of people call him a designer, the Savile Row Academy certified suit-maker says he is only a “glorified tailor”, who tapered off into making suits after finishing his engineering degree.
Interestingly, Prasanna discloses that it was actually his wife Sneha who first told him he needs to be more stylish as an actor. He recounts a particular conversation working on the 2009 Tamil film Achchamundu! Achchamundu!. “Sneha asked me why I dressed so casually even though I was an actor, and suggested that I take fashion more seriously ”.
Gushing about her, Prasanna said it is probably because of her that the actor has become who he is today. Osman agrees with Prasanna, and says that he has seen a positive change over the years after the actor met Sneha. He recalls the first time he met the actress for a men’s shirt ad campaign and how she carried it off perfectly well. “It was such a different look compared to the films she had worked in earlier,” says Osman. “Stepping out of her comfort zone really worked out for her.” Prasanna adds that incidentally, it was Sneha who introduced him to Osman, as the latter designed his suit for their wedding reception, in 2012. Elaborating about the suit, Osman or the ‘Travelling Tailor’, as he likes to call himself, says, “I never forget my creations, so I remember it was a nice black tuxedo with a dotted pink tie to match Sneha’s gown.”
Styling in Chennai
When Osman started Gabbana.life in 2007, many found it odd that people were wearing suits in Chennai, especially because of the weather. Prasanna, having always had the same concerns immediately asked about how Osman managed to break into the Chennai fashion circuit. Keeping in mind the conservative nature of the city, Osman said it all started on an off-chance in 2006, when he started working for his friend’s garment business. When Osman handled the Chennai division of that store, people directly bought off the rack, but not all of them liked what they saw. All this, while he was still pursuing risk management and trying to be a strategist.
“However, being a strategist required years of experience and a rather alarming amount of white hair,” jests Osman, adding that he only has the latter now, after all these years. Since the tailoring was done out of Mumbai for that store, it was a whole different ball game when he quit that in 2007, to step in wholly for his men’s store — Gabbana.life.
His style has changed since then, and while earlier he used to wear loose shirts and trousers, he now stitches perfect fits for himself. That is when we realise the reason behind his hashtag on social media called #DapperDa, a popular hashtag in the fashion circle. He further adds that social media has played a very important role in styling today, as a lot of people wear only what they see online, to which Prasanna agree saying that Chennai has evolved drastically over the last
Throwing a quick question, Prasanna asks Osman how he deals with clients who want exclusive suiting. “I only give the client what he wants, but I also make them adapt to my idea of style. This is one of the things I like most about the Tamil film industry, because they are ready to experiment.” Prasanna agrees by saying that it is important for actors to stand out from each other at awards. “Osman has helped me on several occasions and made me look good! So this association between us is definitely something that’s important to me.”
Osman curious about Prasanna’s upcoming projects asks the actor what he is currently working on. “I have an interesting web series and two films, with two upcoming directors. I am really excited to work with them. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal any names yet.” Osman, on the other hand, says he recently launched his eponymous label, Osman Abdul Razak. “In 2019, you will see OAR essentials, which are basically shoes and t-shirts. This line will create experiences for people in Chennai, which I believe is a growing market.” The conversation between the two finely dressed gentlemen trails off into a personal note, talking about their future and families. But of course, not before taking a selfie to mark their reunion.