Bollywood stars always look good. No matter what the event be; they never step out of their homes without makeup. Not many know that these stars spend a major hunk of their routines in their makeup rooms and vanity vans getting their makeup and hair done before the event.
Vanity vans have become a mandatory part of Bollywood’s shooting amenities in the last two decades. And in the last 10 years, they have gained so much importance as superstar arsenal, that Shah Rukh Khan recently built yet another state-of-the-art van for himself, at a cost of a one-BHK in Bandra.
While every star worth his pancake — from Salman Khan to Ajay Devgn — has a vanity van or even two of his own, others hire one for their shootings. A trade source estimates that at least 350 vanity vans are regularly booked for Bollywood and advertising shoots. Costing approximately Rs 4,000 per shift plus Rs 2,000 for the driver and cleaner, producers have no choice but to book makeup vans for the actors because it is a given that a star will not report on set till his vanity is pandered to.
Sanjay Dutt has a 50-foot long vanity van, while Anil Kapoor’s personal makeup bus is approximately 42-foot long. Deepika Padukone’s van is done in light colours to give it a fresh
There was one big makeup room at Filmistan Studios, which stars often fought wars over because it was the more spacious one. And there is another one at Mehboob Studios that was always kept for Dev Anand. After him, other cinema legends like Amitabh Bachchan occupied this room. “But in the last two decades, the makeup van is ubiquitous at film shoots,” says executive film producer Sanchita Chatterjee.
“We are so comfortable in our vans,” says Kareena Kapoor Khan, adding, “It makes perfect sense for us to have one at our shoots.” Bebo says that with the exception of the makeup room at one studio in Andheri, she cannot remember ever visiting such rooms on any of her other locations.
How did the makeup room lose out to the vanity? “For one, it gives us the privacy we need,” says Ajay Devgn. Parked right outside the set, it saves the star the effort of having to walk up to the makeup room. It also helps fans from crowding around them and in these days of selfies, it stops the selfie stampede.
Back in the day, when Filmcity didn’t filter the crowds around the studios, actors have been raid by fans. Superstar vanities provide custom-made facilities that a makeup room doesn’t. There is everything from a kitchen, a seating area, a bed, vacuum toilets and bath to gaming stations, a huge television etc… all of which are maintained according to the star idiosyncrasies. “For example, Ajay’s van is even fitted with a humidifier because Ajay is a chain smoker and it can get claustrophobic in the van,” says a production assistant.
Fitness junkies even have small gym spaces allotted within their vans. One or two of them have converted an entire vanity into a mobile gym. With such amenities at their finger tips, the makeup rooms, with their peeling paint, musky smell and weather-beaten carpets are used by the lesser stars. Or they are being used as godowns, to store the costumes of junior artistes in huge aluminum trunks. Or even worse, there are tailors sitting around to make last-minute alterations to the stars’ costumes.