Bling on era: How Hyderabadi jewellery brand Kishandas & Co. crafted stunning pieces for Mani Ratnam’s PS-2
Yes the Cholas are coming once again and the heritage jewellers from the city are ready to deck them up!
Period dramas are known for their impressive visual artistry that transcends reality. With larger-than-life characters, awe-inspiring sets, spectacular dance and music, and immersive filmmaking, viewers are transported to a world of imagination. Director Mani Ratnam’s epic drama Ponniyin Selvan-II, releasing today, chronicles one such riveting tale of the 9th-century Chola dynasty that held the record for being the longest ruling dynasty in world history with their reign continuing till the 13th century.
The film made in two instalments based on the eponymous 1955 classic novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy chronicles the Tamil thalassocratic empire as custodians of architecture, art, literature, military prowess and maritime trade. Mani’s first instalment aka PS-1 arrived in 2022 boasting a stellar ensemble cast of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Trisha Krishnan, Jayam Ravi, Karthi Sivakumar, Sobhita Dhulipala, Aishwarya Lekshmi, and many more playing central characters. Subsequently, the second instalment aka PS-2 will see the same actors reprising their roles and continuing the narrative where Arulmozhi Varman, said to be the most illustrious monarch of the ancient Chola dynasty, is on a quest to become the great king.
For those curious about the grand appearance of the characters in the movie, Hyderabad-based Kishandas and Co designed jewellery for both movies. The heritage brand created over 400 pieces with the help of 50 artisans over a span of 7 to 8 months for the lead, secondary, and tertiary characters. We speak to Pratiksha Prashant, Creative Director, Kishandas & Co about from inspiration to completion of this massive project. Excerpts:
After designing jewellery for PS-1, how ready were you this time than before?
Crafting the jewellery for the film was like embarking on a journey to a land that no one has ever seen before. With no existing models to draw inspiration from, we had to rely solely on Mani Ratnam’s vision. The creative genius did photo shoots of the characters with costumes and jewellery and briefed us well in advance. Apart from that, Eka Lakhani who is the costume designer gave us insights about the costumes and how the jewellery has to blend with them. Given the intricate nature of the jewellery, all aspects of the production, including moulding, filing, and finishing, were done by hand. From court celebrations to dance sequences and battle scenes, the jewellery was crafted to complement the characters' costumes and reflect the historical period.
Tell us about the making process.
Designing jewellery for a period film involves a lot of attention to detail. We started by understanding the extensive research materials provided by the production house. We finalised a colour palette and the kind of gemstones that match the characters’ personalities. Later, we incorporated relevant motifs, such as flowers, birds, and gods and goddesses into the pieces. We ensured that each piece is practical and comfortable for the actors to wear during filming. To show royalty in jewellery, we mainly used gold, exquisite Burmese rubies, emeralds and uncut diamonds.
How each character’s jewellery was different from one another?
This varied depending on their role and personality. For example, a queen or princess might wear ornate headpieces and waist belts, while a warrior might have a more functional armlet or sword hilt. Depending on the period and region, certain types of jewellery may have held specific meanings or been reserved for certain social classes or occasions. We took these factors into account. Our starting point was the exquisite temple jewellery worn by queens and princesses of the time. For example, the leading ladies were adorned with a Thussi necklace, a symbol of elegance and grace, while her confident and vivacious sister opted for a bold long necklace. To accentuate the protagonist’s features, we designed maang tika and maatha patti that perfectly complemented her regal persona. We crafted signature pieces for Queen Nandini, Princess Kundavai, warrior Karikalan and other characters like Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan, Arunmozhi Varman etc.
What has been the biggest challenge in the making process?
One challenge we encountered was with the creation of the jewellery for men, and ensuring that the pieces fit properly on the body and arms. We discovered that slight variations in body dimensions could lead to ill-fittings. The hair accessories too posed a challenge. With women’s jewellery, the drawings given to us featured the women wearing both flowers and hair jewellery, which was tough to accomplish in reality.
What is the grandest piece from the collection?
Ah, it’s like asking me to choose my favourite star in the galaxy but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s Chola’s Signature Ring and 2 Tiger Claw Pendant. They exude power and elegance all at once. PS-II releases today in theatres.