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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
India's new pioneers: Make-up artist
Cory Wallia
Cory Wallia was fascinated by make-up even as a child
As part of BBC's India Week, the BBC News website spoke to four people who are pushing the boundaries with their chosen careers.

Cory Wallia is one of India's top make-up artists. Here he describes his mission to revolutionise the Indian look and overcome prejudices about beauty.

In my head, I've always been a make-up artist. I feel so lucky now that beauty is my life.

The most rewarding part of my work are the public demonstrations where I take an ostensibly ordinary woman and transform her.

My approach was modern and radical. I was not afraid of going outré and gothic

As a child, I was fascinated by the make-up on film actresses and on the faces of Indian goddesses and gods in religious pictures.

If I saw a plain and unadorned face, I would imagine it with eyeliner and lipstick.

I was destined for my father's business. I hated every minute of it - we were in wool imports. Behind the scenes, though, I was becoming something of an amateur make-up artist, experimenting on friends.

New Romantic revolution

Cory Wallia at a make-up demonstration
Public make-up demonstrations are the most rewarding part of Cory's work
One day I just couldn't take it any more. I upped and went to America to do courses in hair dressing and make up.

I travelled to London and went to nightclubs there.

I was influenced by the New Romantic look: Human League, Spandau Ballet, Annie Lennox and Boy George.

I returned to India at an opportune moment. The country was about to boom. From 1989 onwards, advertising and entertainment sky rocketed in India.

Until then, make-up was just eyeliner, black kajal, and bronze eye shadow. People wore pink foundation, which makes our skin look deathly purple.

Boy George in 1983
Boy George: New Romantic icon who inspired Cory Wallia

They looked like the living dead - or Lord Krishna.

Suddenly, I was creating waves because my approach was modern and radical. I was not afraid of going outré and gothic.

People loved it.

But all I was doing was bringing my New York and London style to India.

Beauty myths

No matter how old or what colour, race or size a woman is, I can always find a beautiful feature to highlight.

My sister died last year at 59. I did the make up for her funeral, I was crying while I did it, but she died with a smile on her face and looked so beautiful.

A model made up by Cory Wallia
India is now exporting its look and style to the rest of the world
But, for me, the really beautiful face is that of the unnamed Indian woman who is sitting in an audience, dark skinned and supposedly plain.

I've brought out her best features and the gasp of admiration from audiences is what I live for.

I fight against all preconceived ideas of beauty.

I don't work on skin fairness products as a matter of principle. There is this obsession in this country to look fair.

We have incredibly beautiful woman here and it captivates the world. I believe India is ready to export its look.


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