The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 30, 2000

The making of beautiful faces!
By Vimla Patil

SHAHAB DURAZI, Pallavi Jaikishen and many other scintillating-luminary designers had planned their grand year-end shows in 1999 with India’s celebrity models. In all this hectic millennium-year-end activity, one name stood out with a strong but quiet prominence in every fashion event. Cory Wallia, a.k.a. Karamijit Singh Wallia, arguably the top make-up Guru-artist of 1999. Cory has given countless workshops, demos and talks on the art of make-up and honed his skill into a fine art which any number of people are yearning to learn. The faces he has designed this year are luminescent, whimsical and trendsetting in the glamour industry in this year.

Aishwarya Rai is the only complete, classical beauty who looks good even with dark circles under her eyes."My name is probably a misnomer," says this master of brushstrokes and glittering shadows. "I was born to a Sardar father and a Maratha mother. My grandmother was a Saraswat Brahmin from Goa. My maternal family had royal connections and many of my cousins are married into the Dewas, Satara, Indore and other Riyasati families in Maharashtra. I speak several languages and consider myself a Maharashtrian by right though I am proud of my Sardar origins. My grandmother and mother were both beautiful women, and as a boy, I used to watch them with fascination while they put on make up or when they dressed their hair. They were both particular about their grooming and perhaps I even learnt the art of make up then, playing around with their cosmetics."

  Cory has been in the glamour business of designing ‘faces’ and ‘looks’ for models in ad films, catwalk shows and photo-shoots for almost 13-years. "Before that. I managed my father’s wholesale liquor business. It bored me no end. But I had only that business for making a living. Then one day, as I walked down a footpath in the Fort area in Mumbai, I stopped to see a poster of kittens — I am mad about cats — and at the bottom of the poster I read the words which turned my life around. "Doing what you like is freedom but liking what you do is life" said the one-liner I had always done whatever I liked. Been there, done it all! I was tired of living like a whirlwind.

"I immediately gave up my business of Rs 6 crore to my debtors and went off to the US for two years. Here I did every kind of work from cooking to hair-dressing to restaurant service. When I returned, I worked as make-up guru Jojo’s assistant because a vacancy had occurred due to his assistant’s departure for Paris. Jojo himself wanted to migrate to the US. So he trained me and recommended me to several of his clients. In time, I began to create ‘faces’ and ‘looks’ for top models and today, I am busy almost every day of the month with welcome breaks now and then. From socialite brides to film stars, I do make-up for all women".

Cory is in great demand for ad films, print media ad shoots and fashion shows or catalogues. "Make-up in India has gone through a virtual revolution in the last 10 years. The liberalisation of the economy in the early nineties gave a tremendous boost to the advertising industry in these years. Before that, make-up was boringly monotonous. Most make-up men or women were nobodies and they blindly followed western trends. They hung around models and actresses and were certainly not celebrities themselves. Their palette of make-up was limited and technology and photography or cinematography did nothing to enhance or showcase their art.

"But all this changed with films and ad films becoming big money projects. Young women from the most high class families began to enter the modelling business. Miss Indias, their scanty clothing, their prime bodies, their glamorous lifestyles and their constant appearance in the media became the craze of the decade. Young girls by the thousands held them up as icons and parents were proud to have a daughter in the acting or modelling profession. Many envied models and were desperate to join the career. Designers became big names and Indian haute couture became globalised over the years. Television opened new career opportunities for young women and films, TV and modelling attracted hordes of women. Consequently, make-up became important and even socialites and trendy brides began to use professionals to do up their faces for special occasions.

"I think Pandharidada Juker and his chelas, Michelle, Mickey Contractor, Jojo, Bharat Godambe and I have jointly been the trend-setters in this field. We have proved that the same make-up can be used for a bride and a model on the ramp or in front of a camera. The look is soft and the shaping of the face is done not to cover it with cosmetics but to bring out ‘attitude’ and whimsy. Today, technology has come a long way. We can access all information about make-up trends on the internet and every cosmetic is available in India. Indian cosmetic makers have burgeoned and made countless new products for Indian women. Because of satellite TV, even small town women know about make-up and its advantages. They are familiar with ‘names’ in the industry and that is a sign that make-up experts have achieved celebrity status."

Cory has worked with almost all top models. But he names his favourites: Malaika Arora is duskily beautiful; Aishwarya Rai is the perfect beauty; Lisa Ray is the epitome of sensuality; Madhu Sapre has a wonderful bone structure; and Ujwala Raut has enough whimsy to give her an elusive, tempting look. According to him, a woman does not have to be beautiful today. She becomes beautiful because of her shapely body, youthful look and her ‘attitude’. The only complete, classical beauty who looks good even with dark circles under her eyes, he says, is Aishwarya Rai.

Even with enviable fame coming his way, Cory has stayed scrupulously away from Bollywood. "I can’t work with people who short-change you constantly," he says. "Unless the star stands up for you, you never get paid in the film industry. I burnt my fingers when I worked for Soldier where I did Preity Zinta’s face. I never got my money though the film was a super-hit. Preity never stood up for me. I am now trying the industry for a second time with Raveena Tandon and hope for better luck this time. I also cannot work with foolish people who dictate to me without having any knowledge about the science of make-up. Of course I will discuss the ‘look’ a designer or producer has in mind. After all, I am paid to listen to them and to create the ambience they want. A good picture or film is teamwork. But I can’t stand unilateral orders from unprofessional people."

Cory is not possessive about his art. "It changes. It grows. It has to be totally professional. The only way all this can happen is for us to teach the art to as many talented people as possible. Only then will our make-up art match world standards. I have taught Subhash Vagal, Kapil Bhalla, Faiyaz Zariwala, Vipul Bhagat and, to some extent, Marvi Beck. They are all doing excellent work and I’am proud to see the pictures for which they’ve created make-up. It’s all a matter of the team gelling together. Then we can work wonders!"

Cory sees make-up becoming even more technology-driven in the future. Sprays, peel off make-up, ready made looks, false cheeks, chins, noses — all these are possibilities. Already, women are changing their eye or hair colour at the flick of their fingers. The more women hanker after beauty and whimsy, the more cosmetics will be created and the more techniques will emerge to give them what they want.

And judging by Cory’s present success, it seems sure that he will continue to be the man behind many a lovely face in the coming decades!