Nigeshan Sivasundharam, an 18-year-old student from Badulla, has a very unique past; he makes life-like dolls based on celebrities and people he admires. His dolls have been noticed by many celebrities around the world. The first of his dolls to go viral on social media was the doll version of Padmavati from the movie Pamaavat played by actress Deepika Padukone. His most recent achievement was being noticed by the fourth runner up of Miss Universe 2020, Adline Castelino, after whom he had fashioned a doll.
Despite being told that boys shouldn’t play with dolls, he broke the stigma and paid no mind to harsh words for the last seven years. He believes that dolls are not just for children; adults can enjoy them as well. It is one of the simple pleasures in life.
We at Brunch asked him where his passion for doll artistry began. “I have always had a very creative mind, and I loved making unique things. Determination is the key to success. I enjoy Bollywood movies, which is why most of my dolls are modelled after Indian actresses; their outfits are so colourful and I love that.”
Talking about how he discovered this art, he attributed it to social media, saying he saw a few people that did the same thing, so he was inspired to start on his own. Doll artistry is merely a passion project for Sivasundharam; he does not sell them but has plans to begin his own doll shop after he graduates from school.
He described his biggest struggle as the hatred he received for merely doing what he loves, stating: “Many people did not understand why I make dolls. They believe that it is not suitable for men, but I don’t think this is true. I want to change the mindset of people and set an example for all those who wish to follow in my footsteps. There is no limit to creativity.” He added that people even called his passion ridiculous, and he was feeling very dejected about it, but over the years, he’s learned to embrace his art and be proud of who he has become.
Commenting on his most recent achievement of being noticed by the fourth runner up of Miss Universe 2020, Sivasundharam expressed that he was delighted to find out that she liked his doll, adding that when she messaged him on Instagram and shared his post on her story, it was like a dream come true. This simple gesture of appreciation motivated him further to follow his passions and keep working on his dolls until he deems them to be perfect.
Sivasundharam does not make the base of the doll himself, he purchases a ready-made Barbie doll and handmakes their outfits, hair, and makeup to match that of the picture of his inspiration. He explained that it takes him about one to two days to complete a doll and that it is a very intricate and painstaking process. “The most difficult part is designing the clothes. I model them after whatever the celebrity I pick is wearing, and since they are Bollywood outfits, there is a lot of detailing to get right.” He added that he is a big fan of historical movies like Jodha Akbar, Padmaavat, and Bajirao Mastani, so that is what he usually uses as his inspiration for jewellery.
Since most of his dolls are dressed in ethnic and cultural wear, he informed us that initially, he had to get help from his mother on learning how to drape a saree. He also believes that with his large social media following, and gaining recognition worldwide, he is shedding light on our traditions and culture, so that more people are educated on it and understand how it works.
He has plans to become a fashion designer in the future, because of his love for designing clothes and working with mannequins. He also hopes to one day revolutionise the world with his unique designs.