Since the early years of Bollywood’s birth, it has inspired the clothing choices of Indian fashion lovers. More than the runway trends, it is the silver screen that always has, and still rules the fashion scene in India. Many of us enjoy our Hindi movies quite as much for their quintessential glamour as we do for their storyline, drama, and star cast.
Honoring the substantial glamour of Bollywood, here is a countdown on some Bollywood movies that have become epics in the fashion world by virtue of their exquisitely designed wardrobes:
Transcending the decades to create costumes that do complete justice to the era portrayed, Devdas was a complete sartorial wonder. Madhuri Dixit, who plays a high profile courtesan in the film, is given just the right ensemble and make-up that makes her look absolutely irresistible to any red-blooded male.
Paro’s appearance is first of a young Bengali maiden in simple saris, puff-sleeved blouses, long open hair, and striking accessories. It gets not only Devdas, but the entire audience drooling over her natural beauty and understated glamour. The character assumes a different identity after getting married, with a pompous look of a rich wife in heavily embellished saris, full-sleeved blouses, and a huge bindi. Further underlining the importance of costume, the long sari that flows after Paro helps enhance the intensity of the dramatic portrayal of emotions in the last scene where she is running towards Devdas who is breathing his last.
Kirron Kher’s wardrobe was as properly done as that of the two young leading ladies; she is seen in breathtakingly beautiful saris and backless cholis that give the impression of a feminine, carefree, and artistically inclined woman, exactly as her characterization is. Neeta Lulla is said to have done some serious work with the sari for Devdas; the garment was given an authentic vintage look by elongating it to a length of nearly 13 yards instead of the modern-day 6 yard.
This one is probably one of the first movies that became popular by virtue of its elaborate wardrobe. One reason I love Aisha in spite of its cold script is that it is centered on a woman who genuinely loves fashion for the sake of it, and not to appease vanity or seek male attention.
The movie’s styling fell into my favorite segment – classic-vintage, and had some of the world’s best high-street brands like Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Salvatore Ferragamo. An element of versatility was sewn into Aisha’s wardrobe by means of the various events that take place in the course of the script, and Aisha (Sonam Kapoor) rocked all her looks equally well, be it a salsa dance, a polo-match, or a traditional Indian wedding. Pernia Quereshi and Kunal Rawal have done a great job by perfectly putting together each and every outfit, and as a result of this extreme attention to detail, the overall look of the film was a scrumptious treat to the eye.
Silsila is a film that literally took Indian fashion into the 80s, featuring minimalistic ensembles with solid colors, power shoulders, and pastels. Late Mr. Yash Chopra possessed the inherent art of portraying his heroines at their prettiest best, and he achieved the same in the film – Rekha as Chandni looked stunning in her soft outfits and dainty diamond jewelry. The best part about the styling was that the outfits were no couture pieces in themselves but they made the wearer shine through and look her very best.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
A big part of the big-budget of K3G was visibly splurged on wardrobes. I absolutely adored ‘Poo’ and her urbane dressing. All her dresses were masterpieces designed by Manish Malhotra, especially the red cropped pants with a skimpy top in the You are my sonia number. Every girl went gaga over this outfit at that time. The ethnic Indian gharara pants with an asymmetrical top and dupatta was no short of drop dead gorgeous.
Jaya ji’s saris were well designed suited her character of a high-profile wife and an affectionate mother. The three male actors looked very polished too in classic black tuxedos and sherwanis.
The twists, turns, and the evolution of a simple college boy into a bratty rockstar got definition with the outfits and hair-dos he wore through the movie. Beginning with ordinary jeans and pullovers, Ranbir Kapoor’s character in Rockstar goes through a sea change in clothing along with the changes that occur in his professional and personal life. He goes from college boy to lover boy to rebel, and finally to an established star, and it is well represented by his sartorial choices.
The styling of his leading lady, Nargis Fakhri, was no less refined. She looked pretty throughout the movie in pastel hues and flowing silhouettes. The Indian looks which comprised an eclectic mix and match of salwar kameez with embroidered wraps, cardigans, aviator style jackets, and metallic jewelry were absolutely befitting for the young, beautiful, and classy yet fun-loving college girl that she was playing. Coming to the European part of Rockstar’s shoot, the vibrant traditional outfits of Europe worn in the song “Hawa Hawa” looked absolutely stunning and insinuated a romantic vibe in the part.
The 1965 blockbuster film was truly Bollywood – family estrangement, love triangle, a dramatic reconciliation in the court, awesome music, and pretty heroines dressed immaculately. Waqt made it to my top 8 list owing to the timelessness and class of the looks donned by its female leads. The regal necklaces, Sadhna’s bangs, and chiffon saris with sleeveless blouses exuded subtle charm and sensuality. Pencil-cut kurtas with churidars and the bouffant style coiffeurs which were characteristic of the 60s were worn with equal grace by both Sadhna and Sharmila Tagore.
Kal Ho Naa Ho
Talk Kal Ho Naa Ho, and I am reminded of dark, prominent spectacle frames. This was the first mainstream commercial Bollywood movie that had the heroine wearing big glasses, and the look had gained instant popularity among the Indian fashion brigade. I only wish Shah Rukh Khan hadn’t persuaded Preity Zinta to ditch her eye gear in the middle of the film, after all she looked sexy even while specy!
The midi dresses worn in some part of KHNH were fairly appealing too. A small backpack that Naina carries with all her outfits was cute, functional, and suited the character. Not to forget, the iconic blue engagement lehenga that was a big hit among ethnic party dress seekers – and well, I am still on a lookout for a similar piece!
Dil Toh Pagal Hai
Karisma Kapoor was the pioneer of starting the fitness trend in Bollywood which she began through this musical-romantic flick. Her lean frame was adorned with flatteringly cut trousers, cropped tops, peplum jackets, minimalistic gowns, T-shirt dresses, and shorts.
Madhuri Dixit, on the other hand was a stark contrast – she was all mellow, romantic, and dreamy. Her sheer kurtas in fresh girly colors gave the right impression of innocence, sensuality, and effortless style. Even the dreamy white satin night gown of Madhuri in the “Pyar Kar..” song was enticing enough to play a part in getting the movie to the Bollywood’s best dressed list!