While other 10-year-old boys were kicking a soccer ball around Mumbai’s heaving streets or nicking sweets from local vendors, Mickey Contractor was hanging out at the local cinema with his grandmother. Forget about testosterone-driven flicks with blown-up cars and hostile plot lines; Contractor was smitten with Bollywood’s colourful music and dance and, of course, its melodramatic love affairs. “I remember seeing Helen Richardson Khan onscreen and being in awe of her beauty,” says Contractor. “She was confident, and her look was surprisingly modern. I became a child obsessed.”
Fast-forward a couple of decades and Contractor’s obsession has paid off. A Bollywood star in his own right, Contractor has used his makeup brushes to contour the cheeks of such A-listers as Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor. His artistry has been splashed across the pages of India’s biggest magazines, including Vogue India, Cosmopolitan, GQ and Harper’s Bazaar. And his cinematic portfolio includes credits on films such as Karthik Calling Karthik, We Are Family and My Name Is Khan.
Known as the “the master of modern Bollywood,” Contractor is renowned for putting the kibosh on the “pancake” makeup favoured by his predecessors, preferring to give actors a more relevant and natural-looking aesthetic. “I feel like it is my destiny to be a makeup artist and that, over the years, I’ve helped the women of India feel more beautiful,” he says. Clearly, M.A.C Cosmetics agrees.
As Contractor’s reputation in the industry grew, so did the brand’s interest. In 2004, M.A.C knocked on his door with an offer and a promise: Help us launch a M.A.C store in Mumbai and we’ll hand you the reigns to create our first-ever tribute collection—a complete and international M.A.C product line inspired by you.
Contractor said yes.
Now director of makeup artistry, India, for M.A.C, Contractor has not only gained the respect of consumers in Mumbai but also completed his collection. The gorgeous 24-product palette includes eyeshadows in brilliant shades of saffron and aubergine and a range of deep turquoise eyeliners. The line’s six concealers are specially formulated with yellow undertones to address Indian and Middle Eastern women’s varying complexions. “For years I tried to downplay the more-is-more approach and no one listened,” says Contractor. “M.A.C heard me, and now we’ve delivered a collection that is fresh and very wearable for the women of India, on or off a film set.”
So what is Contractor’s current beauty philosophy? “Wear as much makeup as you think you need,” he advises. After all, you can always wash it off and start over. “When I was 16, it was all about tits and ass. Now, it’s about what a woman has to offer, how she carries herself and what she thinks. To me, that’s beautiful.”
Image of Aer, Mumbai's highest rooftop bar, at the Four Seasons Hotel.
MUMBIA'S HIT LIST
Where to go, what to see, must-shop boutiques and all you can eat and drink. Bollywood cinema isn’t Mumbai’s only source of entertainment….
Trishna (Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 023) The decor is cheerless and reservations are essential, but the locals call this gem the best seafood restaurant in town. After tasting its signature dish of butter pepper garlic crab, we realize they may be on to something.
Aer (fourseasons.com/mumbai/ dining/aer) Sip a glass of bubbly at Aer, Mumbai’s highest rooftop bar, located at the super-swish Four Seasons. Our advice? Book a table minutes before sunset. The panoramic views are spectacular.
The Oberoi Spa (oberoihotels.com) The city’s first and only 24-hour spa awaits at this five-star luxury property. For ultimate relaxation, indulge in the 90-minute hot-lava-shell therapy in which sea kelp, algae and salt water are rubbed into the skin with the help of heated lava shells.
Colaba Causeway (Shahid Bhagat, Singh Marg, Mumbai 400 005) Prepare to bargain and reap the rewards at India’s version of a bustling flea market. Stroll through hundreds of vendor stalls offering everything from raw-silk scarves to costume baubles and handcrafted jewellery boxes. A girl can never have enough.