By V. Shuman

It would not be a stretch to say that Kannan Raajamanickam is a wizard of sorts.

While normal wizards brandish a wand to perform their tricks, Kannan's tool is his trustworthy make-up set and brush.

The 31-year-old local make-up artist is creating waves both locally, and overseas, for his ability to transform women into Kollywood actress lookalikes so convincingly, that it is hard to say which is which.

His work has even been highlighted in Indian news outlets such as JayaPlus, as well as Behindwoods and even Indiaglitz.

Astro Ulagam recently caught up with this talented artist, who started off as a performer.

"I was working as a cultural officer with the Ministry of Multimedia and Communications in 2013.

"I was then involved in stage performances, especially cultural ones, as a dancer. I used to do make up for myself," he recalled.

It was then a friend requested Kannan to do bridal make-up for another friend.

Although he was hesitant at first, the "experiment" worked out well, and soon, the word got around and the requests started piling up.

Not willing to turn the requests down, Kannan agreed to most of them, albeit "underground", as there was then a misconception against male make-up artists, especially in the Indian community.

In 2015, Kannan conceived the "Heroines of India" project, where he pooled a few local female Indian celebrities and made them up to look like Indian princesses, and historical figures, for a photoshoot.

That particular project captured the attention of many, and fast forward five years, Kannan is a renowned make up artist who teaches others the tricks of the trade, and also jetsets to countries like India, France, and Canada, to conduct classes there.

Kollywood lookalike project goes viral

According to Kannan, he thought up his latest project of making up local models to look like Kollywood stars, during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown enforced to contain it.

"There was so much negativity in the news, about the disease daily, so I thought why not try something fun.

"I started off with making up a local model in actress Shriya Sharan's get up, and initially, it was only supposed to be the attire and hairdo.

"Soon, I incorporated make-up as well and it was received," he said. The other actresses he had made local models look like include former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, and Lady Superstar Nayanthara.

The Nayanthara lookalike make-up attempt went viral, and soon, his work was noticed by the actress' fan clubs, and was all over the social media. It was also "liked" on a tagged social media post by Vignesh Shivn, who is Nayanthara's boyfriend - something that Kannan considers an achievement.

India's Jaya Plus took notice and highlighted his work with a side-to-side picture of the actress, in a brief videoclip.

Entertainment website Behindwoods had also written about his work, and Indiaglitz have reached out to him to make a demonstration video.

Kannan's next project is bringing the late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha to life, with the magic of make-up.

So far, he has no regrets choosing this line of work, as it gives him the chance to showcase his talent and creativity, and also gives his subjects to look their best, via his make-up.

He recalls receiving demotivational words when he first started dabbling in the industry, from fellow industry insiders.

However, now that he has "made it", the same people are reaching out to him from out of the blue, seeking for opposrtunities, he said.

Kannan is also glad that the society, especially the Indian community, is now more "open" to the idea of having male make-up artists.

"I have at least 50 students who I have taught in the last five years, who have gone on to have successful careers."

His advice to aspiring make-up artists?

"Never give up. Keep doing what you do best and you will make it one day. Take it from me, I was there."

Photos source: Kannan Raajamanickam