Listing my top ten film fashion moments
I have to admit – all those carping critics notwithstanding – that I quite liked Agent Vinod. I relished the twists and turns of a sometimes-improbable plot, I enjoyed the caper movie elements, I thought Saif Ali Khan did a great job of portraying a R&AW agent, and I was quite taken with Kareena Kapoor’s portrayal of an ISI asset.
But even though it was Saif who was all over our TV sets modelling his sharply-cut suits and tuxedos in the run-up to the movie, it was an entirely different outfit that got the audience’s retail juices flowing. No sooner had the promos rolled out than the ladies were salivating over the pink sharara that Kareena Kapoor wears during her mujra number in the film.
Brides-to-be came clutching pictures of the outfit so that their darzis could make a similar one for their big day. Designers quickly drew inspiration from the look for the next collections. And cheaper copies flooded the high street and flew right off the shelves.
Perhaps the last time a film costume had had such an impact on popular tastes was when Madhuri Dixit sang Didi tera dewar dewaana in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun in a purple, crystal-encrusted sari accessorised with a daring backless blouse and spawned an entire generation of women who wore exactly the same style for years thereafter.
Of course, if you think about it, films have always been the biggest influence on our fashion scene. Right from the days when Sadhana’s punishingly-tight churidar kurtas and cropped fringe (quickly dubbed the Sadhana cut) became all the rage to when Sabyasachi-style saris have become a design staple in every Indian woman’s wardrobe after Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee were seen wearing them in the movies. Not to forget Manish Malhotra, to whom goes the credit for re-styling such actresses as Karisma Kapoor and Urmila Matondkar and becoming a trend-setter in the bargain.
Yes, films and fashion have always had a symbiotic relationship in India. So here, in no particular order of importance, are my top ten film fashion moments:
1) Sadhana, in her tightly-cinched churidar kurtas in such 60s hits as Woh Kaun Thi? And Waqt, looks like an epitome of grace and elegance even five decades later. In her day, she completely revolutionised how young women dressed, with her sharply-tailored sleeveless kurtas and skin-tight churidars, bringing body-con dressing to Hindi cinema with style and panache.
2) Zeenat Aman in Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Those over-sized tinted glasses; the hippie-chic bell-bottoms and bright flowery tops; that orange kurti accessorised with yellow marigold garlands as she gets high in the Dum maro dum sequence, complete with an incongruous red bindi on her forehead. Aman’s flower-power style of dressing brought boho-chic to Hindi cinema long before we had even heard of the term.
3) In an era when styling was unheard of Dev Anand created his own distinctive look in the movies, with his high-collared shirts and jackets, dressed up with a casually-draped scarf, and topped off with that signature quiff of hair modelled on his childhood idol Gregory Peck. And once he had found his look, he stuck to it gamely until the end even though the rest of the world had moved on.
4) Who can forget Dimple Kapadia in Bobby? And no, not the famous orange bikini scene, in which all of Kapadia’s baby fat is put cruelly on display, but the outfit she changes into immediately after: a short polka-dotted knotted blouse which leaves her midriff bare and references a similar ensemble that Nargis had worn in an old Raj Kapoor movie.
5) This one is a no-brainer. Amitabh Bachchan in that now-iconic poster of Deewar, all smouldering eyes and pouting lips, his fingers thrust into the pocket of his blue jeans and completely rocking a red shirt knotted at the waist. So successful was this look that, not surprisingly, Bachchan reprised it in such movies as Hum as well.
6) Ek do teen may have been the song that turned her into a star, but Madhuri Dixit will always be remembered for another number: Didi tera dewar dewaana. The purple satin, crystal-encrusted sari and backless choli she wore in the sequence launched a million knock-offs in an instant.
7) The moment Sridevi sashayed into frame wearing another of her diaphanous chiffon saris with a halter blouse you knew that a thunderstorm – that would leave her drenched to the skin – could not be far behind. And the lady – and the weather gods – never ever disappointed.
8) Kareena Kapoor as the vivacious Punjaban Geet in Jab We Met convinced us of the impossible: that we could pair T-shirts with Patiala salwars and still manage to look stylish.
9) And then there was Bunty and Babli in which Aki Narula styled Rani Mukherjee in colourful Patiala salwars (yes, them again) and short kurtis and started a trend that every woman below the age of 30 bought into.
10) Sushmita Sen as the sexy school-mistress in Main Hoon Na. Her sleeveless blouse, midriff-baring chiffon sari look had all the schoolboys – and their older brothers – salivating and wishing that their chemistry teachers had been half as hot. Sigh.