Makeup artist Ojas Rajani is face behind some of the most stunning looks created on screen.Having battled prejudices early in her career for sexuality, all wanted was to let her work speak for in self. She opens up about the wounds she recovered from and the love she gained over the years.
When I began my career, a well-known film director turned me down because he was homophobic. That was a rude awakening to the fact that my country is not going to make things easy for me. Today my habitue list includes names like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Malaika Arora Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Sushmita Sen.So I must have done something right over the last two decades!
As a child,I was always inclined towards studies.In school, In school, I was a class topper.I was made fun of in school and during my college days because back in the ‘80s our society was not very open to the idea of homosexuality. I was simply too queer according to my classmates. Instead of retaliating,I directed my energy towards studying hard and, at the end of the day, my results spoke for me. I was fascinated by Bollywood and I fantasied dressing up as Helen and Mumtaz often.
Once I reached Miami, I worked with my maasi and assisted her in her business. I tried hard to fit into the mould of ‘acceptable’ and dressed up formally, trying to pass off as ‘normal’. One day, a Spanish colleague of mine asked me to just let go and start doing something that I really enjoyed. Her words really influenced me and I enrolled in the Miami School Of Design. I went on to study all about hair, makeup and styling there. I thoroughly enjoyed my course and that was one place where I felt accepted and happy.
After five years, I returned to India and got a job as a stylist at Channel V. In 1996, Michael Jackson was performing at Mumbai and I was told if I did a good job of styling the Channel V team at the event, I would get the job. During my three-and-a-half year tenure three, I dressed up VJs like Laila Rouass, Meghna Reddy, Sophiya Haque, Ruby Bhatia and others. They became icons and finally began to feel like I had found my calling.
At that time, I was also one of the few in the industry who could do hair, makeup and costume styling. I remember a time when I would handle three or four assignments in one day and rush from one set another. Back in the ‘90s, makeup artists were treated disparagingly. I, however, always stood my ground and ensured that I was treated with respect. I learnt to do that from my experiences. I worked to gain respect and refused to be treated differently because of the way I looked or dressed.
Today, I have accepted myself the way I am Earlier, I would come back home and cry because of snide remarks made by people around me – whether it was the lineman who’s remarked on my looks or the people who would stifle a laugh as they walked past me. Now, I am beyond all this, The Buddhist chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and Brahma Kumari’s spiritual meditation helped me in this journey. I am at a happy place in my life today and I feel loved. I loved to be remembered as someone who believed in herself and made the world believe in her.