Mickey Contractor: The makeup maestro
Mickey Contractor is a gem. And he is all heart. And he has a killer sense of humour. And he is talented beyond belief. Do I sound like his groupie? It’s probably because I am.
You’ve all seen his work in movies where he has transformed leading ladies with the power of his makeup. Remember Rani’s glamorous makeover in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? And Aliya’s red lips in Student of the Year? And Aishwarya’s sooty, smokey eyes in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil? He has the rare talent of understanding and bringing out a woman’s best features. So it’s no surprise that he is the chosen favourite of directors including Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra.
But that said, Mickey was a science student, because at that time (when Helen reigned the silver screen), makeup and hair was not a feasible profession. But still he took the plunge, much to the chagrin of his mother, who forked out quite a generous amount so he could learn the art of hairdressing at Tokyo Beauty Parlour in Mumbai.
“I have always been at the right place at the right time,” he says. And as luck would have it, Helen, his idol, walked into the beauty parlour one day to get her hair done. No one else was free to do her hair so young Mickey began his work. When he told her that he wanted to style her hair for the movies she told him that only women were allowed to be hairdressers. If he wanted to work in the movies, it would have to be as a makeup artist, she said. Armed with that piece of information, Mickey again approached his mother. And this time he said that he did not want to be a hairstylist, but a makeup artist. In his own words Mickey says that his mother had a giant ‘fuck you’ emblazoned in her eyes. Nevertheless she supported her son.
From there on was years of struggle, where Mickey did makeup for the extras, backup dancers, supporting cast…basically anyone but the lead actress. His big break came when he collaborated with photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha to shoot portraits, which led to his first big movie - Bekhudi, with Kajol as the lead. From Helen to Kajol (1979 - 1992)…you can just imagine the years he has struggled to reach where he is now. It’s just proof of his love for this craft. Where others would have given up, Mickey persevered and reached the greatest heights: As the Indian film industry’s most revered makeup artists, as the director of makeup artistry for M.A.C India, as the only makeup artist in the world to bring out his eponymous range with M.A.C, not once but twice. In fact his second range with M.A.C is in stores this month.
Read as Mickey talks on beauty:
Subtlety, glow, freshness, and a hint of colour. In terms of physicality I find feature perfect women beautiful. But that said fair does not equal beautiful for me. I like graceful women who have something to say. Trendsetters instead of trend followers.
What is the Mickey Contractor look?
Initially it was the smokey eye, but now I would say it’s the no makeup look with a lot of makeup. Something that enhances the natural beauty of a woman.
What do you think of the heavy contour trend these days?
There is some ridiculous makeup being shown that's getting huge hits. But a year or two down the line classic will be back. In terms of practicality if you try wearing those layers of makeup that we see on Instagram, your face will fall in your hand in minutes!
Can you share some makeup tricks?
1. If you're wearing false eyelashes, always trim them the the natural length of your lashes.
2. Always use lipliner before lipstick if you don’t want it to bleed.
3. Use appropriate foundation for the weather. So this would mean a powder foundation for a hot, muggy climate, and a fluid foundation for winter.
What are the makeup mistakes that women make?
1. Going for the wrong shade of foundation (usually lighter).
2. Copying trends blindly whether they suit them or not.
3. And matching the lipstick or eyeshadow to their clothes, which isn’t always necessary.
What’s your most memorable moment as a makeup artist?
My first makeup collection, which was also launched worldwide.
You have great skin- what do you do?
I smoke, I drink. Hahaha. I think I’m just blessed - it’s genetic. In winter I use moisturiser.
In your opinion, having worked with so many actresses, what makes a difference in their skin?
A good diet and drinking water, which makes a HUGE difference. Crash dieting is bad for the skin.
How are you so confident?
The truth is that I’m confident with what I do, but I’m not confident separately. I die a million deaths if I have so speak publicly, like I did today (at the launch of my collection). So I say what I mean and keep it heartfelt.
How do you deal with fear?
Face it. That’s the only way you can deal with it.