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Verve’s Bollywood Style Awards 2014
Text by Viseshika Sharma, Photographed by Aneev Rao and Styling by Shirin Salwan
Published: Volume 22, Issue 2, February, 2014
The fashion in films is no longer just inspirational, but also aspirational. Manish Malhotra’s designs for the lead couple in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani proved irresistible to shoppers on Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop. Designer Anju Modi revealed that her creations for Goliyon Ka Raasleela Ram-Leela are so popular that she has been deluged with everything from timid requests to strident demands to recreate the looks for her clientele. And the humble half sari or dhavani from Chennai Express has become a fashion statement. Costuming has not just changed the viewing experience, but has altered the way we consume fashion.

On the flip side, our picks for sartorially strong films of 2013 have also been surprisingly lacking in rampant consumerism. Where are the makeover montages and shopping sprees? ‘Give us today our daily IT-bag’ is no longer the mantra, it seems. It is invigorating to notice the spotlight on creativity and interpretation, lending character to characters, in the best possible way. Viseshika Sharma walks you through the films that made an impact this year with their ‘look’, and the stylists who helped them do it. Verve recreates the standout looks with upcoming actress Elli Avram

KRRISH 3
GAVIN MIGUEL FOR KANGNA RANAUT

Say what you will about the immense ‘garam masala-fication’ of the science fiction genre in this film, but cut through the korma to give credit where it’s due. Let’s not go into the minutiae of the double role, mutant logistics, or the hero’s shiny black cape – the standout element of the costume design in Krrish 3 was definitely designer Gavin Miguel’s interpretation of Kaya, a mutant played by style chameleon Kangna Ranaut.

The actress called Miguel to enlist his aid and, with his self-confessed love for strong female sidekicks, the designer could hardly say no. The possibilities started racing through his head in under a minute but he still produced over 25 sketches for approval. Director Rakesh Roshan wasn’t madly in love with the idea of spandex and Miguel researched materials in the US, the UK and Hong Kong to come up with the latex derivative they ultimately used. “We needed something flexible but not bulky, which could exude the power and strength of this character,” says Miguel. Drawing inspiration from screen interpretations of comic superheroes, the metallic grey-blue strapless jumpsuit is an outstanding creation that has garnered Miguel much praise, with the technical prowess you expect of a sci-fi flick.

The outfit had to make Kaya soft enough to be feminine, but still menacing and villainous, and she had to appeal to a wider audience than the urban multiplex crowd. It was a tall order to fill, keeping in mind that she couldn’t look like a spoof of an existing Hollywood character. The look finally came together in trials, remarkably close to Miguel’s first visualisation, both incredibly sexy and intimidating. “I kept knocking off detailing and pieces as Kangna was trying them out, I just felt that ‘simple’ was better in the end,” he says. Identical versions of the costume were then produced, differing by about half inch increments to account for changes in Ranaut’s body during filming, for even minor fluctuations in weight would cause the suit to wrinkle unbecomingly.

Enlarged pupils added to the drama of the look, as did the hairdo that Miguel devised with make-up and hair artist Brendon De Gee. The elaborate conical twists were held together with copious amounts of sugared water and Ranaut’s look would take over five hours to come together each day. Miguel credits the actress for the immense patience it took to hold it all together and continue filming in the heat of schedules in Oman and Hyderabad – at the end of the day, her body was part of the costume.

GOLIYON KI RAASLEELA RAM-LEELA
ANJU MODI FOR DEEPIKA PADUKONE

Another year, another epic romance from Sanjay Leela Bhansali. One would yawn with ennui if he didn’t consistently deliver a spectacle. Designer Anju Modi’s revivalist strengths are highlighted in this year’s ode to dramatic colour and cloth, and in a plot inspired by the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet, Deepika Padukone’s Leela is anything but the ingénue.

Modi’s brief was to depict the seductive charm and rebellious streak that are illustrated by Leela’s predilection for puckering up with her family’s sworn enemy. Her waistbands had to have just enough room to tuck in a firearm – an essential accessory in this feudal scenario. Modi let loose with extravagant layering and a vibrant colour palette, embracing lush skirts that swirled not-so-demurely through vivacious dance numbers. Bhansali and she combed through research – antique books were consulted and vintage textiles were sourced from remote villages, piecing together the rich heritage of Gujarat, where the film is set. Obscure prints and backless cholis are thrown together to create a modern interpretation of Kutch. Amrapali, the heritage jewellers, threw open their archives, loaning some antique pieces and recreating others, for jewellery is a huge part of this narrative. When Leela is a carefree non-conformist, elaborate chaand balis swing from her lobes, but then she assumes control of the clan, and her more kohled eyes and heavy choker are an echo of her mother’s strong presence.

Modi also found that designing for the film opened her up to the idea of going over the top and following her instincts, creating more lavish ensembles than she has before. “Sanjay has such a talent for attention to detail that it felt like a natural process for me to add more detailing. Whether it was a facing on a skirt, or a lining, or just an edging, he did justice to it. I felt like I could just let go of all inhibitions. He inspired me to be adventurous with colours, layers and embroidery,” she says.

Modi’s first foray into styling for Bollywood has left her in love with the experience. “However lovely a collection looks on a person, in a photo shoot or in a fashion show, it is completely transformed on celluloid. I couldn’t take my eyes off Deepika, she looked incredibly ravishing. The three-layered lehenga in the Holi scene was my favourite,” says the woman who has ensured that bandhini will be in everyone’s wardrobes this year.

CHENNAI EXPRESS
MANISH MALHOTRA FOR DEEPIKA PADUKONE

The accent was unforgivable but the look was impeccable – we are talking about Deepika Padukone’s role as Meenamma, a Tamil goonda’s daughter who helps a bumbling Shah Rukh Khan navigate the deep, dark South. Dyed in the wool (well, maybe just cotton!) Madrasis could barely recognise the dhavanis of their youth – in the place of those stiffly pleated paavadais were these gorgeously flattering gathered skirts that took your breath away, especially when donned by the gorgeous Padukone.

“We’ve already done the cool modern girls, then with Jab We Met we did the spunky North Indian girl with her Patiala salwars and T-shirts, so it was interesting to do something different with a South Indian look,” says costumier Manish Malhotra. Stepping away from the usual colours of the Tamil countryside, he aimed to use the colours to create a look that was happy, young and spirited, but also spoke of the character’s strength. “I’ve found that it’s important to have extensive knowledge of fabrics, because what works well on the rack may crease a lot after take upon take during shooting,” he divulges.

Easily crumpled cottons were replaced with georgettes, immediately lifting the costuming out of the ordinary and making for a far more dreamy effect. Malhotra also engaged his talent for mixing colours by reinterpreting the traditional pattu paavadai and dhavani ensembles. “I cut up loads of saris and moved the borders around so each look was created from several saris,” says Malhotra, who works with a colour chart at the ready, to keep things from getting too repetitive.

Surprisingly, the ensemble that stole the show for us was one that lacked in colour. Departing from the overall Tamil theme, Malhotra draped Padukone in a Kerala-style sari for the scene where SRK’s Rahul hefts her up 300 steps to a temple to fulfill an auspicious rite. “We took liberties with that scene, keeping the look simple and pure in an ivory silk-cotton sari, in tune with the sanctity of the temple,” he says. It was accessorised though with the traditional staple gold coin necklace and jhumkis that no self-respecting South Indian’s tijori is complete without. With his work on Chennai Express, Malhotra has breathed new life into South Indian staples, paving the way for young girls to embrace their South Indian roots in an updated manner. All we can say is “gimme gimme some more!”

YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI
SAMIDHA WANGNOO FOR KALKI KOECHLIN

Ranbir Kapoor’s Bunny goes from confident boy who can rock a plaid shirt to a bearded man-child who can rock linen pants. Aditya Roy Kapoor’s Avi goes from gambling-addicted guy in cargo shorts to never-do-well guy with precisely one, albeit well-fitted, suit to his name. Deepika Padukone’s Naina goes from obviously-demure-girl-in-short-shorts to obviously-sexy-girl-who-still-wears-spectacles-occasionally. So far so stylish, in Ayan Mukerji’s coming-of-age romcom. But it’s when we get to Kalki Koechlin’s Aditi that the ante gets upped.

She’s the kind of brash ‘Dally’-girl who doesn’t cringe when a kid ogles her legs, but confronts and even bullies him. The sort of girl who doesn’t shy from jumping into a fight with small-town goons, claiming during a drinking game that she’s been arrested for beating up a cop. And when she says it, she’s even wearing a shirt that Bunny was sporting in the previous scene. “She’s an urban girl whose best friends are boys and she’s a tomboy so that’s really how she dresses,” says Samidha Wangnoo, who shopped around at high street stores to put together Aditi’s wardrobe. Stalwarts like Zara, Forever 21 and Jack & Jones yielded the many pairs of shorts (fringed, ripped, studded), bandanas and t-shirts that Koechlin was seen in during the first half of the film. Wangnoo also re-jigged boys’ t-shirts to create the slim-fitting tank tops that Aditi lives in.

Eight years on, it’s a very different Aditi we meet. She’s grown up more than either of her partners-in-fun-and-games – a poised, sophisticated woman, the sort whose hair and nails are impeccable as a matter of course. Wangnoo collaborated with Rixi Bhatia (under the latter’s Half Full label) to create the ladylike, yet sexy, dress that Aditi dons for the dinner party before her wedding. A dress that allows Aditi to enjoy herself during the song-and-dance of her best friend’s entrance, that she can throw her fiancé’s dinner jacket over, yet look delightfully put together. But it’s when you see her in the Sabyasachi lehenga at the sangeet that it hits you how far she’s come. She’s as comfortable in her vibrant Indian wear and sequins as she was in the darker colours of her grunge collegiate wardrobe, and as confident in her loved-up state as she was while being one of the boys.

ELLI AVRAM
Livewire Elli Avram debuted in Mickey Virus and then cemented herself on the scene with her appearance on Bigg Boss Season 7. The petite Greek-Swedish former figure skater, was discouraged from doing the show by her family, but managed to convince them otherwise. “It’s a lot more decent than the kind of stuff we’re used to seeing on Big Brother,” she says. Bitten by the Bollywood bug as a child, Elli counts off several blockbusters as her inspiration, but Devdas will remain her favourite. “It’s the kind of epic love story I would love to do,” she says, her eyes lighting up at the thought. And she’s dedicated too – she landed her role without knowing Hindi and then picked it up so thoroughly that her speech is peppered with ‘ki’ and ‘toh’, in a completely charming way.

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