[FILM] Indian Costume Designer Has Hollywood Sewn Up
- Indian Costume Designer Has Hollywood Sewn Up
Tue May 25,12:46 AM ET
By Nyay Bhushan
NEW DELHI, India (Hollywood Reporter) - The embroidered robes
in "Troy," the props and flags in Oliver Stone (news)'s "Alexander
the Great," the intricate embroidery on the 400-meter stage curtain
in the upcoming "The Phantom of the Opera" -- all came from
Rangarsons, a family-run business located in New Delhi's central
Paramjit Singh Rana and his son Manjot say they got their start as
a "peculiar" business, supplying military ceremonial products,
accouterments and musical instruments to the Indian army. For nearly
50 years they have supplied products to various overseas buyers, from
the Tanzanian army to the Canadian police and the Queen of England's
But their Hollywood break came with Richard Attenborough's 1982
epic "Gandhi," when one of the film's costume designers, John Mollo,
walked into Rangarsons while on a scouting mission.
"John saw the various products on display and realized he could
source all the costumes and props for the British army in the film,"
That break led to more work throughout the decade, when a spate of
productions with colonial backdrops were filmed in India.
The Rangarsons have recently graduated into Hollywood's big league,
thanks to their work for Ridley Scott (news)'s "Gladiator" under the
supervision of set decorator Crispin Sallis. The ornate embroidery on
banners, flags and curtains and the valances in the arena fight
sequences were a major production.
"We sent a flag design, and Ridley Scott liked it so much he ordered
500 pieces," Paramjit says.
For the upcoming Scott production "Kingdom of Heaven," props required
by set decorator Sonja Klaus include massive banners, 20 feet long by
four feet wide.
"This involved intricate embroidery work, something that can only be
done in India given the variety of craftsmen and the cheap cost of
labor," says Manjot, who also supplied buttons and cuff links for the
costumes of 5,000 extras in the film.
Each morning, artisans and embroiderers come to Rangarsons to pick up
their assignments, which are farmed out according to job
"Because we have access to a variety of sources, if you give me a
design in the morning and want it by the evening, I can deliver,"
says a confident Paramjit, whose interest in art and history drew him
into the profession.
Father and son praise the professionalism of international
"The attention to detail and the precise schematic drawings are such
a big help," says Manjot, who rattles off studio names and those of
costume and set designers much like a Hollywood agent.
For the upcoming Jackie Chan (news) starrer "Around the World in 80
Days," the Rangarsons were asked to supply 200 props worth more than
$100,000 to re-create a street in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, for a
set built in Thailand.
"This required us to source antique doorways, windows, benches, lamps
and fabrics, which you'll see in (just) a five-minute sequence,"
Even with all the acclaim for their film work, the Rangarsons are
equally proud of their association with the 45 regiments of the
"Every year, during the annual Republic Day parade (on Jan. 26),
almost 70% of the ceremonial attire and instruments are supplied by
us," says a proud Paramjit. Perhaps that is equivalent to winning an