Charu Khurana – The Struggle Story of The First Female Makeup Artist of Bollywood

Charu khurana with her husband asutosh kamra

Today we will introduce you to Charu Khurana, the first female makeup artist of Bollywood. Before 2014, there were no female make-up artists in any film industry of the country.

Charu khurana, husband ashutash and her two sons
Charu with her husband and children

Some personal Information about Charu Khurana

Real Name: Charu Khurna

Husband Name: Ashutosh Kamra

Brothers Name: Ashutosh Kamra

Childrens: 2 Sons.

Born State: Haryana

Schooling: Delhi

This is shocking, but true. There was no female makeup artist registered with the Makeup Artists Association. Men used to do the makeup of both hero and heroine, whether the makeup was only for the face or full body. Charu had to fight a four-year-long battle to make it to this men’s association.

Charu khurana with her brother rohit khurana

When Charu tried to enter Bollywood as a make-up artist for the first time, the association considered her a fanatic and harassed her in various ways. Not allowed to get work, Rs 1500 per day for a year. Also fined, also made pressure to get work from male make-up artists. But Charu did not give up, she dragged the association to the Supreme Court, fought for four years and won. She got permission to work in Bollywood. But, this fight was not really just four years old. From makeup kits worth lakhs to taking courses, Charu learned this art by putting everything at stake.

Born in Haryana but Brought Up in Delhi

The story begins from Haryana where Charu Khurana was born. At the age of 3-4 years, the family shifted to Delhi. Charu was always less interested in studies and more interested in arts. By the time of 12th, Charu became interested in doing makeup. During the holidays, the intentions became stronger after seeing beautiful models in magazines and TV. One day she did her eye make-up that the friends living together agreed to pay money to prepare the same.

Charu Khurana with hollywood actress cate blanchett

Charu got 250 rupees, which was her first fee, for doing her friend’s eye makeup. Sometimes decorated the mother in the house and sometimes decorated the people going to the wedding. The happiness of the first earning and the appreciation of the people… but without technical knowledge it was impossible to fulfill this dream. Now Charu wanted to turn this hobby into a profession. Next story and struggle, now read the words of Charu Khurana himself

Struggle to Learn

In the year 2000, there was no professional makeup course. At that time there was a famous makeup artist from Delhi, Vidya Sikari, whom I went to. She refused saying that we do not have an institute. I used to sit at her salon reception every day and wait for her to say yes.

When it was the season of weddings, many women used to come there, seeing whose makeup I wanted to learn more. Vidya used to ask me why I had come and I used to have the same answer every time. That’s how I sat at her salon reception for 6 months. After 6 months I don’t know what happened that she told me that she will charge 11 thousand rupees for 1-2 hour class.

Charu Khurana with South film industry actor Prabhas during Bahubali Production

In 2000 it was a huge amount, that too for only one class. I would have taken 20-30 classes for basic training. She probably wanted that after hearing the high fees, I would give up the thought of joining this profession. I agreed, but said that the fee will be of your choice, but I will decide the time and day.

Mother sold her jewelry to buy makeup products

My first class was about which product to use. I gave 11 thousand rupees for the first class only because they told me the product. They asked to bring their own products. The products she told were not available in India at all, whose cost was lakhs of rupees.

There is no second class without a product. A month passed like this. At that time my father’s financial condition was very bad. When I insisted in front of my mother, she sold her jewelry without informing anyone. I stopped taking classes only after doing a few classes.

Charu with barack obama

Worked for 2 years without salary

One day I went to Vidya Ma’am and told her that you don’t give me salary, but you keep me for 2 years. She agreed. She used to assist her for 9-10 hours every day, which brought cleanliness in her hands. If it was new, sometimes someone used to get wipes done, sometimes used to get it cleaned. Did all this too, but never deviated from its target.

This is between 2001-02. Once she got an ad shoot job from a production house in Bombay. When 100 people had to do make-up, Vidya didi sent the entire team, in which I was also. When I saw the shooting, I got very interested. Then I realized that makeup is not just limited to salon or bridal makeup.

Vidya didi advised me to go to Bombay to learn hairstyling and draping. After calling the details, it was found that the fee was 50 thousand rupees for 45 days. I didn’t have that much money. During the shoot, I became friends with some people. One day I called the production manager and said that I want to come to Mumbai and tell me if there is any work.

At that time he had an ad shoot job, so he told me come, it is 3 days’ work. There was no talk of money, but I reached. After shooting I got 15 thousand rupees. I was very happy. Got some work and the fee came out. I took admission in the hair course with popular hairstylist Bharat & Doris.

Federation took fine daily for 1 year and did not give membership

My brother was a struggling actor in the television industry in Mumbai itself, so I also settled here. I was only 17 years old. Initially, there was less work then there was no problem, but as the work increased, the problem started increasing. Once upon a time, during an ad shoot, some people came to check membership, who is a member of the association and who is not.

I was doing makeup in the vanity, those people came and said, show your card. When I showed the business card, I started saying that I don’t want a union card. I said there is no union card. Those people said that you cannot work in Mumbai. The rule here is that if you are not a member of the union, then you cannot work. You have to pay a fine, Rs 1500. I paid the fine.

Had to pay fine of 1500 rupees daily for one year

I went to the union office to get the card made. He refused saying that we are not making anyone a member right now. I asked without asking how the cards would work. He said, you will not be able to work. I had to pay a fine of Rs 1500 every day and there was a ban on going on the set.

After 1 year the rules became more strict. It was told to hire a member of a union with you. I also did this for 1 year and gave money to that member from my salary. I used to do both hair and makeup. Sometimes the co-worker used to complain to me that this make-up and hair work for two people. The people of the union said that hire two people for two jobs. If one salary was given to three people, then no one would have stomach.

Federation people did not give membership to girls

In a day went to the Federation office in Andheri. I asked how are these rules. You are not making members and you are demanding to keep two people. How can I pay salary? It has been two and a half years, now give membership. I was only 19 years old at that time. He explained to me that we do not give membership to girls in makeup artists. At that time there was only this understanding that from where the money would come, how to pay the rent, how the stomach would be fed.

I said that if not make-up then give membership of hair artist, those people refused even this. They started saying that you are not from Maharashtra, first bring 15 years of domicile certificate. What kind of logic is this? I showed every document from mother and brother’s electricity bill, but they did not agree. When I went again and again, those people started behaving rude to me.

Had to leave Mumbai, worked in Delhi for 2-3 years

My heart went sour. My parents said that you come to Delhi and do work. In 2005 I packed my luggage and came back to Delhi. I did small things in the house itself by making one room a makeup studio. Worked in fashion shows, shoots. For 2-3 years I worked in Delhi only.

Once I got to know the cinema makeup school, which was in America. When contacted by mail, it came to know that they had very advanced courses. I got interested. By that time I had added money and made a name.

Choose a career from marriage and career

When asked the family members, they said that your age has become 25. It’s time for marriage and we don’t even have enough money to get both your course and marriage done. I said that I will get married myself, you teach. Here the question was not of thousands but of lakhs. Brother supported and explained to the parents. The marriage was postponed and did a makeup course with her money.

Going abroad and done a make-up course of 32 lakhs

In 2008, the fee for that course was Rs 32 lakh. This included the cost of living, commuting. To add money, I did every little thing in the morning and evening. I drove 100-100 kms a day for work. Finally got Rs 10-15 lakh from the family members. Some I took a loan, some my uncle helped. In 2009, I came back from the course. I had learned prosthetic and 3D makeup, which would have been useful in the industry itself.

I thought now the time has passed, do you know that everyone’s thinking has changed. I expected that now the industry would have changed, the boy-girl difference would have closed, but I was wrong. Those from whom I had learned were doing Kamal Haasan’s film at that time. He told Kamal Haasan that this girl’s work is good, if there is a need for prosthetic or 3D, then keep it. Kamal Haasan ji once called me in connection with the project. Trials happened, looks were prepared, I worked for a month, but that film was never made. Asked for help from old friends to tell if there is work. Did a couple of additions too. After sometime Kamal Haasan ji called me again for the remake of Wednesday, Innadu.

Federation people used to harass on the set

30-35 days no problem. The shooting took place in Hyderabad. I think the industry has changed. Suddenly one day the Federation people came to see my license. The shooting could not stop because producers have money, artist dates. 200-300 people work. They took a fine of Rs 21 thousand from me and did not even give the receipt. When I asked for the receipt, he handed over the receipt for the donation. It was written in it that I have donated money. It didn’t feel right to stop shooting, so I finished shooting in 15 days.

Charu khurana with bollywood actor shahrukh khan

As soon as she was free, she went to the Federation’s office. Slowly I started to understand things. I asked for a copy of the rules. If it was written in their rules that the girl would not get the membership, then I would have understood. He was adamant that the membership would not be available.

Police Case and Years of Fighting

I went to Andheri police station and lodged a complaint there that these people are harassing me and not making me a member. How will I work The union is very powerful, it has 3-4 thousand people. they had a mafia gang of their own. Earlier, complaints were not filed just by speaking. I had no ground to file my complaint. After that I went to the Women’s Commission.

It was very important for me to earn money, because I had invested all my parents’ capital. When I was of marriageable age, there was a lot of pressure from the society and thirdly I had come after studying abroad to do some work.

Complaint against union in National Commission Delhi

After Mumbai, in 2009, I complained to the National Commission, Delhi. After working with Kamal Haasan, work offers started coming in good, but his system was that union members would have to be kept together. I used to keep a hair artist and a make-up artist with me, because I had to earn money and run the household expenses.

This was the only way without membership. I worked with Anushka in Chennai, worked with Vikram ji, worked with Vijay sir. I used to do make-up, but I was not allowed to go on the sets, there were assistants there throughout the day. In such a situation, our salary also used to get divided. After some time the union people started harassing me even when I was sitting in the vanity. The unions of Bombay are calling the union of Chennai not to let Charu Khurana work. A gang war broke out against me. Union people made a plan to boycott me.

200 people of the union had created pressure by coming on the set

200 people from Chennai Makeup Union came and stood against me on the sets. It was a matter of great embarrassment that a girl has come from outside studying and she is being suppressed. No producer stands up for a make-up artist. He has invested crores why would he stop shooting for a make-up artist. They have the option of calling another make-up artist.

Did not get work in the industry for two and a half years

After doing the film Innadu, I stopped getting work in the industry at the behest of the union. I packed my luggage and came back to Delhi. I got married in the middle. After marriage, in 2010, my case was registered in the Supreme Court. On behalf of the National Commission, my case was fought by Jyothika Kalra, who was a renowned lawyer.

He charged me very little. Open different files. Instead of getting a direct decision, years of letters are opened. One has to get to the bottom of each rule. Going to the hearing in the Supreme Court was a big struggle. Sit outside and wait for your number, but only in three-four cases the day would pass, then the next day had to wait again for your number.

Married and two children only after going round the Supreme Court

I got pregnant. The delivery of both my children took place while climbing the stairs of the Supreme Court. I was 9 months pregnant, waiting for my number in the sun, heat, sweat was a very painful experience. I was emotionally, mentally and physically dependent on someone else, which was difficult for me. Many times it felt like to back away from the case. My parents supported me a lot. They said that always stand for the right thing. In 2014, my father was 70 years old, who used to go round the Supreme Court with me every day. They used to say that you will create history.

Finally, after a long wait, in February 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in my favor. After that suddenly I came in limelight. It was not only mine but the fight of dozens of women working in the industry.

The road was not easy even after the victory

Even after the Supreme Court’s decision came, the union refused to give me membership. I broke down badly one day. The second child was in the stomach and getting emotional I told the judge in the courtroom, look at my condition. It’s been 4 years. I have attended every hearing, why. Somebody dies in this wait. The judge told me, you check now, we will get your membership now. I paid the membership fee in the Supreme Court itself and they said that within 30 days you will get the membership.

Charu’s victory was discussed all over the world

After winning the court case against the union, Charu became the first registered female make-up artist in the country. Charu’s victory was discussed in every corner of the world including London, Paris, Milan Fashion Week. It was a historic victory to challenge and conquer the 65-year-old rule. Before Charu, there was no such girl in Mumbai who was given membership by the union. After him, the avenues of the industry were also opened for many other women of the country.

A memorable experience working in Bahubali

My son was very young when I worked in the film Bahubali. I had to get my son breast fed, for which all the arrangements were made on the set. They also allowed my child on the sets and gave them complete privacy.

How to contact Charu Khurana for Makeup Related Queries:

You can contact her just simply put a query on Charu’s Instagram account.


Delhi Magazine Team

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