Yash Chopra showcased women’s fashion through his films

Yash Chopra’s contribution to film-making may be indelible,but so is his contribution to women’s fashion

Written by Priyanka Sinha Jha | Mumbai | Published:October 4, 2013 3:00 pm

Churidar-kurtas were not the only must-haves created by Chopra’s films. Decades later in the eighties,chiffon sarees acquired an elevated fashion status courtesy his portrayal of statuesque heroines draped sensuously,making their way through Switzerland or Holland and turning heads everywhere.

It seems almost a lifetime since we last saw the eponymous film-maker Yash Chopra at his birthday last year,so when his wife,Mrs Pam Chopra’s invitation for celebrating his birthday almost a year after his unfortunate death came along,RSVPing for the said event was almost a no-brainer. The idea of celebrating Chopra through the prism of his most beautiful creations — his leading ladies walking the ramp in a clothesline inspired by his films seemed most apt.

I recall yesteryear star Sadhana Nayyar,who impressed everyone with her stylish figure hugging churidar-kurtis in Waqt,mentioning (during one of our conversations) how particular Yashji,as he was referred to,was about the attire his heroines were sporting. For Chopra,clothes indeed maketh the woman,though he was hardly crazy about brands. His fashion logic was simple and unerring — the heroine had to be presented in a way that she always looked breathtaking. In fact,in her book the Art of Costume Design,costume designer Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya makes a special mention,“Yash Chopra and Sadhana both inspired me to do my best. Earlier Punjabi-style long kurtas with three-quarter sleeves and broad salwar was the ruling fashion. In Waqt,we introduced the churidar-pyjama and sleeveless fitting kurtas with a side band that brought complete attention to the body form. Sadhana and I created an outfit and she modelled it for Yash Chopra when he came over to discuss the wardrobe. He was completely bowled over and gave his green signal at once. The film became a sensation on its release and according to Yashji,girls in Delhi bought movie tickets for their tailors,so that they could replicate them!”

Churidar-kurtas were not the only must-haves created by Chopra’s films. Decades later in the eighties,chiffon sarees acquired an elevated fashion status courtesy his portrayal of statuesque heroines draped sensuously,making their way through Switzerland or Holland and turning heads everywhere.

Juhi Chawla,who was among the string of actresses that he directed in his films,recalled that during the filming of a scene which required her being ill,Chopra insisted on the dark circles created by the make-up man around her eyes to be lightened. No matter what the circumstances,his heroines had to look luminous.

Predictably enough,being a Yash Chopra heroine was a coveted badge of honour every actress was vying for. Among those who got a chance to wear it,the southern sirens — Madam Re and Sridevi took the Yashraj leading lady’s style quotient to iconic levels.

That in time to come,Yashraj Films gave us the first official size zero heroine —Kareena Kapoor,besides Aishwarya Rai in a sizzling avatar in Dhoom 2 and a host of other actresses sartorially revamped and reinvented was an obvious and a befitting progression.

Over time Hindi cinema has become far more glamorous with a significant budget attached to dressing up the actors,but few can lay claim to creating the fashion frenzy created by a Yash Chopra film. A rather interesting aspect of his impact is that in interweaving the weft and warp of Indian and western trends,all in the service of beauty,he created a sartorial sensibility uniquely Indian.

Incidentally,Yash Chopra also gave us the unforgettable Angry Young Man aka Amitabh Bachchan and the incurable romantic in Shah Rukh Khan with a few rather stylish flourishes,but I will hold that thought for another day.

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