Pandhari Juker, Bollywood's Legendary Makeup Artist

I always tell my students that whenever you are doing makeup on any face, always keep one thing in mind that the face in your hand is BEAUTIFUL and you are going to make it more attractive.

~ Pandhari Juker in an Interview with Anurag Sharma
Anurag: Dada, you have been the key makeup artist in Indian film industry for a long time. You have been enhancing the beauty of Bollywood for six decades now. How did you end up in film industry?

'Dada' Pandhari Juker
Mr. Juker: It's my destiny. I am blessed with six sisters. My father worked for B.E.S.T. and it was very difficult to run such a big family on a single salary. He had a huge responsibility of getting all my sisters married. When he fell seriously ill, entire responsibility fell on my shoulders. I was a student at J. J. Collage pursuing a degree in commercial art then.

I was in a dilemma - whether to continue my college or look for a job. By God's grace my neighbor, a veteran makeup artist Shri Baba Vardam came forward and held my hand. He told my father that he would teach me makeup skills and take me as his assistant. My training started that day. In a few days, when my guru Baba Vardam had confidence in me, he told me that he was taking me to a very famous studio, the next day. I still remember the date. It was 3rd February 1948 when I stepped in to the Rajakamal Kala Mandir Studio, owned by none other than legendary Shri V. Shantaram. My guru made me stand in front of him and introduced him. V. Shantaram asked me, "So you want to become a makeup artist?"

I said, "yes."

He asked me to start right away. Then he asked me to paint his face as a trial which I did with utmost confidence. V. Shantaram was pleased with my skills and confidence. He asked me to join Rajkamal Kala Mandir. That was the turning point of my Life. I learnt a lot in his studio. Not just in the field of makeup, but in other areas too. V. Shantaram always kept me busy. Whenever I was free from doing makeup, he asked me to check lighting or to help cinematographer. It is like a learning school for me. After working for Rajkamal, I got an opportunity to work for Khwaja Ahmad Abbas banner, thanks to late Nargis who introduced me to Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. I was selected for an Indo-Soviet venture movie named 'Pardesi'. This shoot took me to Russia on my first overseas assignment. During my stay in Russia, I got a chance to take a diploma of makeup and for this I must thank Russian government which took care of my financial needs during my one year stay there.

Anurag Sharma
Anurag: Did this foreign experience and the diploma give a boost to your career?

Mr. Juker: No, On the contrary, when I returned from Russia I was jobless. No producer was willing to give me work because they felt that I was foreign returned and might charge heavily for makeup.

Anurag: When did things get better?

Mr. Juker: As I said earlier, after returning from Russia I was jobless. I kept looking for the right opportunity, and I never lost hope. During that period of unemployment, I started learning other skills of makeup which were suitable for Indian films. I got chance to work for some small budget movies. I never said no to anyone, because I was looking for work and these movies added good experience to my knowledge.

Anurag: What happened next? How did you get your 'big' break? 

Mr. Juker: During this period Director Chetan Anand launched a movie 'Anjali' on the Life of Gautam Budhha. For this he was trying different types of wigs for Gautam Budhha character, but he was not happy with the work earlier wig maker had produced. That time's one of the leading makeup artist Shri. Ram Tipnis suggested my name to Chetan ji. He called me and explained me about Budhha and showed me a few sketches. I said okay to him. He asked me when could he see the wig. I promptly said, "Tomorrow." He was surprised. "Impossible!" he said. But I was confident about it. I came home and started collecting material for making that wig. That whole night I worked on it. The moment I finished my work, I took a bath and took a cab to the studio. Chetan ji was surprised to see me so early in the morning. I showed him my work. He immediately called the artist who is supposed to play that role of Buddha. Chetan ji was going to try the wig on the actor's head, but I stopped him from doing this. I asked the actor to put the costume of Buddha and then try it so that they could the complete picture. Chetan ji  agreed with my suggestion. He smiled and said, "Smart boy." When I put the wig on the actor in full costume, Chetan ji was fully satisfied with the look. This is what he was looking for. He tapped on my back and asked me, "How much I have to pay for this?" I said whatever you feel the best. He called his accountant and asked him to pay me Rs.1,200. I was thrilled with that amount. In those days 1,200 meant a lot of money. That amount helped my family a lot. This work boosted my confidence and I started working freelancing.

Pandhari Juker with Madhuri Dixit
Anurag: You are a living legend of makeup in Hindi Cinema. How did this profession shape your life and affected your outlook?

Mr. Juker: As I said, my confidence gave me lot of work in this industry and lot of work means it was truly a lot of work. I was young and willing to put more efforts. Seeing my work many producers wanted me to join their productions. I couldn't say yes to all of them. I started working for B R films, K Abbas production, VIP production, Mukta Arts, Trimurti films and Nalanda Arts. Those days I used to work for nearly 18 to 20 hrs. But this hard work affected my family life badly. I was hardly at home. I wanted to stay but couldn't help because money was also very important for my family. I must thank my mother and elder brother for taking care of all family members in my absence.

Let me tell you one incident. When my family members started looking for a bride for me, nobody was willing to give their daughter to me. First, I was from film industry and on top of that, I was supposed to be touching faces of actresses every day. People had a bad impression about this profession.

Finally after clearing all their doubts one girl named Vibha got ready to marry me. And, after marriage, just because of her support we could manage our married life. I have two sons and two daughters. Due to busy schedule I hardly got any time to spend with my kids. Vibha and my kids never complained about it. You'll be surprised to know that in my entire career span I never took my whole family on vacation. Only once before the birth of my two daughters, I took my sons and wife to Khandala and that too on the location of film Kabhi-Kabhi with permission from Yash Chopra.

I was away from home working in other parts of India during the death of my mother and my brother. Luckily, I could manage to attend their funerals. Thank God I was with my wife at the time of her last journey.

Anurag: What do you like and dislike most about being a makeup artist of your stature?

Mr. Juker: I will put this in two parts. First half I will put before 90's n second one after 90's. At the time of my younger days this industry was different. You can say that every unit was a family. All were having tremendous bonding among each other and there was no rivalry at all. Even the superstars of our time where down to earth. Each and every member of unit had great respect for elders as well as for youngsters. Because of this atmosphere, I really felt working with complete dedication.

Mr. Juker with Sunil Dutt in 1971: Reshma Aur Shera
When you use the phrase 'makeup artist of your stature', I can tell you that I really worked hard in my entire life and I think, I have got this stature, just because of this dedication. I have been in cine industry since 1948. It means out of 101 years of Indian Film Industry I have witnessed almost 69 years. I have seen the changes of the industry and still watch where it is moving. In this span I have worked with many actors. Few names are V. Shantaram, Sandyha, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari, Pradeep Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Pran, Jeevan, Amitabh Bachchan, Wahida Rehman, Asha Parekh, All Kapoors, Sunil Dutt, Nutan, Sadhana and from Madhuri, Sridevi, Meenakshi, Poonam, Sanjay Dutt, Gulshan Grover, Salman, Shilpa Shetty, Tabbu, Farah, Kajol, Juhi, Karishma, Karina, Manisha to Sushmita etc. I must have missed a lot more names.

I told you these names, just to give an idea that I have worked with three generation of this industry. I know the behavioral changes in the nature of stars. During my span I never experience any bad behavior of any artist, but now, I have seen some very famous superstars misbehaving with co-stars as well as with their personal makeup artist and spot boys even though they are seniors or experienced. Some stars treated them like slaves, which was very humiliating. I do not want to tell the names of those but today's newcomers are also behaving in this fashion. I don't say all are doing this but there are some. When one sees this who came from era of 70's and 80's. This type of incident makes me very upset. Thank God I have not gone through this or else I would have quit this industry almost 20 years ago. I still got the same respect and because of this, I am still working in this industry.

Anurag: What would you have been if not a celebrity makeup artist?

Mr. Juker: Earlier I have mention to you how I step up in this Industry. I was doing my commercial artist diploma in J. J. Collage and wanted to pursue in same field, and while doing this I have started learning Photography. I used to click small or big functions, from birthdays to weddings. After joining film industry I got more exposure to the photography. I got a chance to meet very famous photographers, and cinematographers too. With time, I learned the technique of movie photography. That time I was earning very well, so I built a small darkroom at home. I purchased good SLR camera and Enlarger. I used to print all my work at home only. But it was not written in my destiny. I feel whatever I am today is just because of God's mercy. In film language I can say that he is the script writer of my life.

Anurag: On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?

Mr. Juker: The only secret of my success is complete dedication towards my work. In this industry you have lot of distractions. but if you focus at your ultimate goal, then nothing can stop you in achieving it and I will advise to all those youngsters to follow this line. Not only in this industry but this is applicable in all field. At the age of 87, I still keep myself updated with new techniques. I am still learning new things about makeup.

Anurag: Would you like your family members in this business?

Mr. Juker: Well... if it is my wish, then I would prefer that no one from my family should join this business. Many of my nephews and cousins are already in this industry. Even then I will stick to my statement. I have seen this industry since last 8 decades. During our era we used to work as a family. I am not talking as a unit, but any other makeup artist also comes for the help in difficult situations. For example during shooting if I am not well and unable to carry out my work. Then I could call anyone of my friends from other units and they without giving any reason stands for you. Now these thing I is missing very strongly. Now the competition is too much that people are just waiting to grab others opportunity. Just because of this reason I have not allowed my both the son to enter in this business. I also found that today's generation is after shortcuts. They don't want to do that hard work. It does not mean that all are from same category. there are few who are doing hard work, but at the same time they know how to do the smart work. Even then they will not get that security.

If you want to make career in this profession, you have to sacrifice your family. Just for this reason I never allowed my sons to enter in this industry.

But this is just my opinion. Tomorrow if my grandchildren wish to enter in this business then it is not in my hand to stop them, but I will definitely guide them. I am not totally against it.

Anurag: The 'ultimate method actor' Dilip Kumar once said that 'acting is only 20%, while 80% of the impression is due to the makeup artists'. Of course, right makeup can be very challenging at times. Please tell us about few notable cases in your career? Any big challenges?

Mr. Juker: I still remember those 60 days of movie 'Reshma Aur Shera' which was based on Rajasthani story line. We were shooting in the scorching heat of Rajasthan desert for two months. Just to get the natural skin tone and location.  It was a multi-starrer movie. Stars like Sunil Dutt, Wahida Rehman, Rakhi, Vinod Khanna and young Amitabh Bachchan. It was difficult to work in that heat, but even then no one complained against this.

I still remember one incident from 'Saat Hindustani' when I had to leave the shooting for a week to return home due to a serious family problem. During shoot I had applied beard on Amitabh's face and suddenly I got call from my family about illness of my mother and left from the location, but when I returned back to shoot I found that Amitabh was keeping the same beard for 1 week by just cleaning side face. reason for that was continuity of scene.

Other incident is from Meena Kumari starrer 'Pakeezah'. It took nearly four years to complete it's shooting due to illness of Meena Kumari. During these years there was a drastic change in face of Meena Kumari. I had to take care of the continuity of the scenes. Then there were movies like Kranti, Kala Pathhar, Saudagar and Lamhe, which were also challenging.

Anurag: Most memorable time of your life?

Mr. Juker: The most memorable event of my life was my marriage and I must thank my wife Vibha for that. She accepted me when no girl was ready to marry me, because I did makeup of most actresses of those days. Even when our marriage was fixed, some of her relatives tried to brainwash her against me. But she stood firm on her decision and finally we got married. Thanks dear for believing in me.

Another one was the years which I spent with Yash ji, means Yash Raj Chopra. It all started long back when I joined B. R. Films. That time Yash ji was assisting Balraj Sahani. During that period, I had a great bonding with him and when he started his own production company 'Yash Raj Films', I also joined with him. My real journey started from there. Yash ji was like a brother to me. My bonding with him can't be explained in words. His house was almost like a second home for me. We used to share a lot, whether it was about a movie or any family problem. I was welcomed at his home  any time. I received same love and affection from bhabhiji (his wife) also. I worked with him for more than 40 years. During these years I got a chance to travel around the world with him and know different cultures. He was a gem of a person and always helpful. Due to his sudden exit from this world, the industry lost the greatest director of Indian cinema but I lost my best friend. I will always cherish every unforgettable moment we spent together. Miss you both.

Anurag: No doubt, you were surrounded with good people. You have great experience and you got many awards. Was there a difficult phase too? Given a chance, is there anything you wish to change about your successful career?

Mr. Juker: If you ask me about a difficult phase of my life, then I would say it's entire film career. You may be surprised but it was just because during this span, I was hardly able to give time for my family when they needed me most.

Anurag: You have been associated with Indian Films industry for a long time. How has the industry evolved over time? What is in store in future for it?

Mr. Juker: I have been in this industry since the era of Black & White films. We had to put lot of efforts for doing specialize get ups of different characters, just because the material was not easily available. Even the makeup kits were not there than. In Black & White era, we had to experiment with different lighting too. The shades which we applied on face looked different on B & W screen. We had to take all that care. When cinema shifted to color. We had to use different techniques and thankfully we were getting nice shades from abroad. But even then, the final result of our work could be seen on screen only and it really gives us immense pleasure to see our own efforts and hard work coming to life.

Now the things are very different. Everything has become easy and convenient because there is availability of resources. One can see the results within a seconds due to developing technology. Computers have made everything so simple. My only worry is that in near future this may happen that you don't required good actors. Digitally one can create images of well known actors. This experiments had already been done with great Rajinikanth. Definitely this industry has great future, provided that movies are made with great story line. Take examples of 3 Idiots, Bhag Milkha Bhag or Rustom etc. These films made wonders on box office. I also saw both parts of the mega digitally excellent movie Bahubali. If similar types of movies come again and again then audience will definitely show them it's place.

I am more worried about makeup industry just because of growing population of film, small screen and advertising industry. Now a days I see many makeup artists who don't have any knowledge of shades, brands etc. They only know the basic technique of applying makeup. They also know that even if they make any mistakes in choosing the right shade, it can be corrected easily by using digital methods. We have very few skilled makeup artist in India who have developed their skill and kept them updated. One can't say that in near future you don't even required makeup artist. If everyone adopts up growing digital techniques. I hope for the Best.

Anurag: Indian culture is traditionally full of festivities, color, arts, music, and beauty. But somehow, this all has gone into background in contemporary middle class India. How can an average person appreciate and adopt art and beauty in day to day life?

Mr. Juker: You rightly said that about Indian culture and tradition. Wow! I am always fascinated by it's rich culture and I must thank God for giving me birth in India. Nowhere in other parts of world you will find such a wide verity of cultures and festivals. It is so colorful. Whether it's costume or food. Each state is having its own specialty. How can cinema be left behind? Each and every movie is representing our culture, by showing it's rituals or by costumes. But the most fascinating part is music and dances of movies. It's an integral part of every Indian's life. We can't live without this. It's an energy vitamin for all of us.

I don't agree with your statement that, all has gone into background in contemporary middle class India. Even an average person is enjoying all these flavors in their way. Money is not stopping them from enjoying all this. In fact my belief is that beauty lies in simplicity. By wearing costly costumes or by putting heavy makeup one can show their richness, but I have found that average person is enjoying more than high class society. If I say about beauty, then I think applying makeup on face does not mean that you are beautiful. It only hides one's negative aspects of face. Without makeup also People looks beautiful. One needs that vision to find out beauty. When there is question about adopting an art I think it has no barricading. I do watch few reality shows and amaze to watch such a hidden talent from all parts of the country. I don't find them from any rich background. It's peoples mindset which is stopping them to appreciate and adopt.

Anurag: Looking back, what is the secret of your success? 

Mr. Juker: Want to be important, to be needed. We look at celebrities, famous people and we envy them. Their money, possessions, and prestige. We want their lives. But How? What do successful people seem to have that others do not? So when we want the lives of actors and rock stars, artist and millionaires, what are we really saying?

There is one saying that, 'Everyone wishes to go to heaven, but nobody is willing to die'.

It goes without saying that this is tragic. Because not everyone can be a celebrity, and not everyone should. Success isn’t fame and fame is hardly ever success. Success is about more than superficial standings or the number of followers you have.

Follow the latest celebrities, if you don’t believe me. See what “success” has done for them. Their stories are rife with pain, suffering, heartache, abuse and addiction.

Anurag: What is your message for people who wanted to be an artist but became engineer, doctor or manager just because they thought art wasn’t going to support them?

Mr. Juker: Have you ever wanted to be an artist? Why or why not? The thing starts from your childhood. the environment where you have grown up. Day in and day out it is programmed in your brain that one day you will become a doctor or an engineer. Very few will say that he/she will become an artist. So even one wish to be an artist one can't, because in back of the mind you are talking to yourself. My parents want me to become an engineer or doctor and if I choose a field of my liking and if I fail, what will people say? That fear is stopping them to do so. Movie 3 Idiots is the best example for these type of peoples. When you are wise enough to take decision of your career, first ask yourself, what you want to become? and when you got that answer then search for people who can help you achieve your dream. Always follow the successful people. They have done something different than others and that difference is the reason which made them successful. Read their stories to get yourself motivated. Dhirubhai Ambani was not a born millionaire. But his dream was BIG. How many of you know what Sachin Tendulkar sacrificed since his childhood. Take an example of Amitabh Bachchan when he came to Mumbai, he was having very little money and no place to stay. He stayed at my place twice. He is a live example in front of me. I saw his growth from 'Saat Hindusthani' to Kaun Banega Crorpati'.

My advice to all youngsters, "Follow your dreams. Do not worry about what people say. Consistency and persistence will help you to achieve what you want to be."

Anurag: What is your definition of beauty?

Mr. Juker: Beauty lies within soul. Beauty means what? The thing which gives immense pleasure to your eyes, to your mind. Normally the word beauty belongs most of the time with female and being a makeup artist I have done makeup to thousands of faces. When any lady sits in front of me, she sits in a belief that this person is going to make me more beautiful than what I am and it's a challenge for us. We have a responsibility of not to break that belief. During this phase I have gone through many different faces. some were ordinary or some were naturally beautiful. Out of this almost 75% faces we are meeting for the first time.

We make them beautiful anyways. But my definition of beauty is totally different. As I said that I came in contact with many faces. But all are having different nature. Just looking beautiful in not a real beauty. For example one lady who is having immense beauty but having an ego of her beauty and on other hand one is having ordinary look but winning hearts of millions by her kind nature. So the combination of both (Beauty & Kind nature) will make her more beautiful than others.

If one change its vision to look at anything with kind heart you will find everything beautiful in this world.

Anurag: What is your message to people who feel bad at some point in life because they don’t consider themselves beautiful?

Mr. Juker: I spent over 60 years in film industry, mentoring, and assisting career development in the field of makeup. I always tell my students that whenever you are doing makeup on any face. Always keep one thing in mind that the face in your hand is BEAUTIFUL and you are going to make it more attractive. You may go through some skin which is fare in complexion or some may be dark in complexion. You have to treat them equally. Just find out the positives and negatives of face before starting your work. Develop this skills, then only you will called makeup artist.

I would like to repeat the same message for those who don't consider themselves beautiful. Try to find out what better you can do to look more attractive. If not then consult any beautician who can guide you. Main thing is that you need to change yourself from today. Start self talk daily in front of the mirror that I am Beautiful. Not only by face but also by heart. Love yourself and see the difference.

Anurag: Who is your favorite actor?

Mr. Juker: I have done makeup to many actors and actresses. You can say it is 30 actors and 70 actresses. Mostly, they were female actors and among them, I would say my favorite faces are Nutan, Nargis, Madhuri Dixit, Sushmita Sen, and Kangana. You might be surprise to see the names of Madhubala, Meena Kumari or Aishwarya Rai missing. They have natural beauty. But when I saw Nutan, I found her face very attractive with sharp features. She was looking gorgeous from any angle of camera. Also great acting talent. On other hand Nargis was a little different. I like her lazy eyes. Her eyes speak a lot on screen. She was looking stunning in both Indian and Western outfits. Here came Madhuri, popularly know as Dhak Dhak girl. She carries that million dollar smile of Madhubala, but more than that her positive side was her dancing skills. I saw many good dancers on screen but when Madhuri dances people cannot take their eyes off. Look at her expressions while dancing. Only Sridevi comes close to her match. About Sushmita and Kangana, I would say both are having very sharp and curved face. Among them, if you look at Kangana, she looks different in every character. It's her positive side for any director. Among male actors my favorites are Dilip kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Both of them are great actors. I am a great fan of both.

Anurag: What is your favorite book?

Mr. Juker: I was never a good reader. I hardly remember which book I read last. Due to busy schedule I hardly get time for this. But I got a good habit of reading faces of the people from different countries. This helped me a lot during my makeup career.

Anurag: What is your favorite country?

Mr. Juker: As I mentioned earlier that due to shootings I got a chance to visit almost entire world. Out of these my favorite destinations were Australia for their people, Switzerland for scenic beauty and South Africa for it's wild life, But my first love will remain always with Russia. What I am today is just because of Russia. But each country is having some unique specialty in tradition, their hospitality, their food.

Anurag: What is your favorite food?

Mr. Juker: I like Italian food, but my favorite is Indian Fish Curry & Rice. Whenever I am out of India, I always miss this.

Anurag: Anything else you would like to tell our readers

Mr. Juker: Enjoy life's every moment. Help others. Love your family and friends. I would like to extend a personal thanks to you as well it's been nice talking with you. Take care.

Anurag: Thank you for your time and consideration. Best wishes.