Bollywood Style Awards 2013
URBAN SASS Heroine
Manish Malhotra for Kareena Kapoor
Considering the sensationalised take on ‘reality’ that Madhur Bhandarkar is known for, the costumes for his take on the life of a Bollywood actress were surprisingly true-to-life, certainly for the life of a Bollywood star as we perceive it. Heroine saw Kareena Kapoor take on the role of Mahi, a so-so, kinda-maybe-going-somewhere-with-this-career sort of actress who revamps herself after a dramatic breakdown. While the story doesn’t have much to do with Kapoor’s life, the wardrobe certainly seems like an extension of it. Real-life friend and go-to guy for her outfits was Manish Malhotra, certainly the person who knows best how sensational Kapoor looks in red.
Malhotra’s life was made easier by the fact that for most of the film Mahi plays characters in other films, or sits around waiting for her shot, in costume, for films within the film, or, in one memorable instance, does an item number at an awards function. She is transformed into a blowsy prostitute in lurid facepaint for a small-budget flick – all backless, low-cut cholis, kitsch skirts and beribboned braids. For a later role, she is transformed into a short-haired (well, shorter than usual) biker chick with a take-no-prisoners attitude. As for when she’s being herself, there’s the typical off-duty Bollywood chic that we have come to expect after highheelconfidential.com posts of actresses at airports – coordinated sweat suits that she is never so gauche as to actually sweat in, or painted-on jeans and tanks, accessorised with scarves and oversized handbags. An honourable mention for the scene where she’s the best-dressed WAG at the fakest cricket match in the history of Indian cinema.
After years of being pushed around, when Mahi starts getting smart about playing the game, she does it in the same Issa dress that the Duchess of Cambridge wore to announce her engagement – a life-changing move for Kate Middleton and a career-changing one for Mahi. For the obligatory appearance at a wedding, she is clad in a signature Manish Malhotra ensemble – a confection of pink and white with a royal blue trim that screams the costumier’s name, and an entirely plausible choice.
The coup de grace however, is when Mahi arrives at the funeral of an older actress, her friend and mentor, clad in jeans and a hoodie, so bereft that she hasn’t had the time to change into the tasteful Lucknowi set, the bare minimum we have come to expect after years of observing in-film funerals. It was the perfect finishing touch – something that shows her breaking away from the glitz of Bollywood, seamlessly setting up the last moments of the film, where Mahi lives in anonymity in Europe, in the ubiquitous North Face fleece.
With his styling in Heroine, Malhotra doesn’t try to break any rules – he simply makes Kapoor look as stunning and appropriate for each scene as she is in any role she plays.
YOUTH CULT Cocktail
Anaita Shroff Adajania for Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone’s Veronica is wild and brash, yet confused and vulnerable. A difficult trait for costume designers to convey but which is ably managed by Anaita Shroff Adajania for the other Adajania on the team, her husband, director Homi Adajania. From our first glimpse of her, it’s clear that Veronica is no shrinking violet – a beaded mini dress is supported, pun intended, by a hot pink bra and extreme bedhead. The life of every party, she’s uncomfortable not being the centre of attention. There’s no way the girl’s moping around even when she is dumped. She just puts on a short, low-cut sequined number and gets back out there.
The brassiere makes strategic appearances in various parts of the movie. As the photographer on a shoot, she’s dressed for comfort in short shorts and a tank, with straps peeking out. Lounging around at home, her oversized sweatshirt slides off one slim shoulder to reveal…yes, hot pink straps. As a brat in London, with plenty of cash to burn, Veronica’s wardrobe consists of anything and everything. Dior and Tod’s are thrown together with Topshop and All Saints – Adajania clearly knows her London aesthetic and shopping there is second nature for her and her team.
Veronica’s rock chick aesthetic is almost Taylor Momsen-ish – the raccoon eyes, stacked bracelets, the attitude – except for the perfectly manicured nails. There are no chipped nails in Bollywood, thank you very much. At home, it’s boyfriend shirts and oversized sweats that still tantalise and titillate with flashes of golden, glowing skin. Her first attempt at an Indian ensemble is justifiably bright red. And because she is so clearly unused to wearing a salwar, it’s tied a little too high on her waist – ah the devil is in the details!
When she tries to make it work with her boyfriend after he loses his heart to the mousy Meera (Diana Penty, again impeccably styled to be the silent killer), she goes all out, converting herself into a Meera-bot. Hair pulled back, clad in looser fits, shrouded in floral aprons and crochet shrugs, it’s no wonder that Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) does a double take, mistaking her for his quieter love. When she finally breaks, she does it in predictable Veronica style – super dramatic, in a gown with killer heels and a ratty fur coat. When she finally gives up on poor ole clay-footed Gautam, she returns to her trusty black leather jacket and skintight fits once again, and order is restored.
Even in her darkest moods, Veronica’s wardrobe exudes the plush vibe that Adajania is famous for. When it comes to all-out glamour, the lady does it best. Whatever the shortcomings of his characters, Homi Adajania’s film is a fine canvas for his wife’s styling skills. Other films may insert Fendi and Gucci into song lyrics, but when it comes down to the bare bony shoulder, Adajania has the last word with her fashion lexicon.
RETRO RENDERING Barfi!
Aki Narula and Shefalina for Ileana D’Cruz
While director Anurag Basu’s take on the life of a deaf and mute small-town boy and his relationships came under criticism for culling slapstick scenes from other films, the fashion was faultless. Moving back and forth in the ’70s, the costuming for Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) and Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) was sweet and thoughtful, but it was Ileana D’Cruz’s Shruti who embodied the spirit of that generation and Aki Narula’s styling that set her apart.
When Shruti first meets Barfi, she’s the recently engaged daughter of a civil servant who has just been transferred to Darjeeling. She brings the gloss of city style to the refined ways of hill station living by attending a dance in her black evening dress worn with tasselled earrings, but her day-to-day outfits are the stuff of retro dreams. Turtlenecks, flared jeans, knee-grazing skirts, vests and patterned sweater coats are perfectly accessorised with hoop earrings, calf-length boots, headbands and over-sized sunglasses. Perfectly put together at every opportunity, Shruti is clearly not given to impulsive actions. She is a stylish but restrained girl. Her glossy mop of hair is never dishevelled and her perfect flick of eyeliner never smudges. We all know girls like that and put up with them.
All the elements of Shruti’s look in her unmarried state are quintessentially era-specific but Narula’s eye for the smallest detail is evident. When we see her in the scenes from the later ’70s, she is still the same stylish girl, but her wardrobe is completely revamped to suit her status as a young matron.
Still elegant and restrained, she wears only saris now. Perfectly starched Dhakai cotton saris, crisply pleated and draped smartly on her slender frame as she goes about her life in Kolkata. Even when she runs into Barfi again and gets caught up in his mad capers, Shruti doesn’t bat an eyelid or let a hair escape the glossy braid that emerges from her faultlessly backcombed bouffant. The set of her jaw just doesn’t allow it. The graceful arch of her back as she goes about, pleated pallu neatly looped over her arm, inspires aspirations in Jhilmil, someone who has never cared about her clothes till then.
For Narula the sourcing was a nostalgic experience that took him back to his roots. “I was born and brought up in Kolkata and it’s very unusual for me to source for a film from there. I revisited all the shops that I remember my mother going to, for saris and khadi fabrics. All the knit cardigans and prints for both girls (Shruti and Jhilmil) were from there,” he says.
With his attention to detail, Narula has recreated the poster girl for the Bengali homemaker of the ’70s. When she steps off the curb and into the great unknown by leaving her husband, Shruti still does it stylishly. Though we only see her look in photographs in the film, it is evident that she has set aside the diamond earbobs of her housewife years for the hoop earrings she enjoyed earlier, worn now with snazzy printed polyester saris. Narula really knows how to create a character’s style and carry it off-screen.
AUTHENTIC RECREATION Gangs of Wasseypur
Subodh Srivastava for Huma Qureshi
A gruesome crime drama replete with gory vengeance, Gangs of Wasseypur is also a great ode to small-town fashion. Subodh Srivastava has translated director Anurag Kashyap’s vision into fabric, working with references from Dhanbad and Bokharo and producing most of the costumes in Mumbai and Varanasi. He worked from the script to present Kashyap with sketches, and they were instantly approved – Srivastava also fabricated more clothing as and when required by his director. It was a challenge though, because the two parts of the film span over 70 years.
The first few decades are a sea of khaddar colours – washed out greens, beiges, pinks and stained whites, making for some pretty unstimulating viewing. But with the advent of colour cinema in Wasseypur, colour comes to our screen too when Manoj Bajpai’s Sardar Khan strides out to his car in a vibrant candy-pink shirt. When the film focuses on his family life, we get glimpses of the rich embroidery traditions of the Muslims.
Huma Qureshi plays Mohsina, a small-town beauty who knows the power she wields over her besotted beau and uses it to her advantage. While being romanced in the Bollywood-obsessed town of Wasseypur, in the second half of the film, or what became the sequel, she is kitted out in simple salwar kameez sets, not terribly fitted, in the colours dictated by blockbusters – a pale yellow dupatta is thrown over a bright red kurta and a lurid bright pink and blue set clearly brings joy to her heart. Simple gold hoop earrings are her only accessory and she loves her lipstick. Her hair is braided, with lightly frizzed waves escaping to float around her face. Cringe-inducing hair and bright make-up were clearly the order of the day – something we’ve all blocked and singed out of existence with our GHDs.
As the film progresses, Mohsina marries her small-town big-shot – he of the flared trousers and wide-collared striped shirts that induce sweat at first glance. With a steady influx of cash comes a steady influx of style, for her at least. The girl who never needed a purse starts toting around a handbag, wearing heels and sporting cheap sunglasses. None of the imported sunglasses of those Mumbai molls for our girl Mohsina though. The salwar kameezes fit better too! Of his process regarding Mohsina’s wardrobe, Srivastava says, “I looked at the personal portraits of middle-class Muslim families from small towns. Mohsina’s costumes were inspired by the loud embroidery work on bright fabrics that was the norm for them. When she gets married she starts dressing up more. This was something I found quite common in the region. They start wearing their husband’s sunglasses and shirts. their style grows more after they are married.”
By the time hubby Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is released from jail with great fanfare, she’s ready to welcome him with a pair of aviator sunglasses to match her own, turned out in an embroidered and fitted salwar suit, in full-on bombshell mode. Her hair is smoothly blown out, and while the bright lipstick remains, it’s no longer paired with eye shadow, making her look like a street-side mannequin. With his work in Gangs of Wasseypur, Srivastava has achieved a realistic timeline of how women experience fashion and build on style. There are no glaring indiscrepancies to his fashioning of a woman who changes with the world around her. Now if only they’d cut out all that blood, gore and gunfire. . .
Of Indo-German lineage, Evelyn Sharma was brought up in a small town outside Frankfurt, going on to study business and languages before proceeding to travel around the world in the course of her modelling career. Having never been to India before, Sharma was told that she should definitely explore the possibility of a career here and valiantly decided to take the leap. Once here, there was the usual round of go-sees before she was cast in a Parachute ad – inarguably one of the most important brands that a model can work with in India for its high visibility. Having never entertained dreams of a career in Bollywood, the luminescent Sharma was then encouraged to try her hand at films. Her first film, From Sydney With Love, was released in 2012 and she now has four films lined up for release, including Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala and Manish Tiwary’s Issaq. She jokes that she has probably signed a few films only because of her strong accent – NRI roles are a breeze for her!