Deepika Padukone might be playing the Queen of Chittor, Padmavati, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming magnum opus, but the movie’s costume designers say that there will be a lot of influences from Sinhalese culture in the actor’s look. This is because Padmavati was born to a Sinhala king and was later married to Rawal Ratan Singh, King of Chittor. Padukone’s costumes will reflect a combination of both Rajput and Sinhalese culture (of the Sinhala Kingdom, which is present day Sri Lanka).
“Padmavati’s look is an amalgamation of Sinhalese and Rajput culture. She was a Sinhalese princess married to a Rajput king so, we have designed her costumes in a way that she looks a Rajput queen but still has the Sinhalese aesthetics intact. Mr Bhansali’s cinema can never have a predictable queen. So, Padmavati also has a certain individuality and what she is as a person will reflect in her clothes as well. That’s the main beauty. We got so consumed while designer for the character that we felt like we were living in that era,” designer Harpreet Narula told indianexpress.com. Harpreet and Rimple Narula have worked on the costumes of the lead stars of the movie.
Talking about the styling of actor Ranveer Singh in the film, Harpreet explained that since he plays the ruler Alauddin Khilji, his look carries Afghan and Persian influences. “There is a lot of Turkish influence in the look of Alauddin Khilji. He is shown to be Delhi’s Sultan. This is pre-Mughal period, rulers in that period were not that Indianised as Babar or others from post-Mughal period were. Khilji’s look has more of Afghan, Persian culture. We had to take trips down to various museums, libraries and we also collected a lot of old textiles to get the right look,” the Delhi-based designer said.
One of the most challenging tasks, according to the couturiers, was designing the look for Shahid Kapoor, who plays Padmavati’s husband. Ratan Singh ruled during the 13th century, a time when Indian royalty had minimal Western influences. Harpreet said it was difficult to design something “purely Indian”.
“Thirteenth century was an unadulterated zone, where there are no Western influences in the clothes. the research becomes very limited as we have to eliminate all the influences that come into the clothes of our modern-day royalties. Today, they are very Westernised. We have very few references in museums. Things were happening at a local artisan level, all the motifs were simpler and connected to Indian culture, there weren’t paisley patterns or Mughal art or other fusions. The embroideries were inspired by the romanticism connected to Lord Krishna. We have shown that in Ratan Singh’s costumes,” he said.
The designer duo said they have prioritised historical accuracy above everything else as they don’t want to go wrong with the facts. “We are doing an intensive research on textiles and the dyeing process of that era because all the techniques we are using, we want to trace their origin and have historical evidence about them. We are trying to be historically accurate,” said Harpreet.
According to the designers, the costumes in Padmavati are integral to its narrative. “Every character has his or her own journey whether it’s Khilji, Padmavati or Ratan Singh. There’s a lot of depth in their transformations so, the costumes only take the narrative forward. They are integral to the story and not separate. There’s an interesting play geography culture various seasons from the 13th century,” Rimple said.
When asked how they bagged the coveted project, Harpreet said that the combination of royal and bohemian styles in some of their collections clicked with Bhansali, who is known for giving a lot of importance on the designs and costumes being perfect in his films.
“Some of our previous collections were royalty- and travel-inspired. We have had collections where we have talked about royalty and combined it with something contrasting influence like nomadic or bohemian. I think that’s what Mr Bhansali saw in our work and he offered us Padmavati. We got a call from his production department and it did not take us too long to connect with him because he liked our work in the first meeting. But once we were on board, then the real grind began.
“We know we can’t afford to be anything less than perfect because Mr Bhansali has this unstoppable quest for perfection. There were unending look tests, sometimes with the stars, sometimes without them and we looked into each and every detail. It is easier said than done. (His) eye for detail is hard to find in anyone else,” Rimple said.