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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wear Withal

Actor Soha Ali Khan is surprisingly good as a fashion guru.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published: September 25, 2012 10:34:20 pm

Actor Soha Ali Khan is surprisingly good as a fashion guru.

For the past few nights,I’ve been assiduously tuning into the TLC’s channel new show,What Not To Wear. The show follows an international format where two hosts offer very frank fashion advice to one participant and turn him or her from sartorially unhinged to confidently stylish.

Makeover shows are dull,but this one banks on the acerbic tongues of its hosts. What Not To Wear originated in England on BBC in 2001 and is Bafta-nominated. Its two original hosts — Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine — were deliciously brutal; they became instant celebrities,launched several fashion books and eventually their own eponymous show on another channel.

The American version,with Stacey London and Clinton Kelly,is also rather popular. The show is syndicated in Italy,Mexico,Argentina and now India,where actor Soha Ali Khan and designer and film stylist Aki Narula take an awesome turn as style smiths.

Aki,in my opinion,is one of the most talented and irreverent designers we have. That the Indian fashion industry has lost him to Bollywood saddens me. But when I see his films,with the understanding of the far and wide reach the movies have in our country,I know his audience is now much,much bigger.

The best makeover is actually Soha’s. The disarming daughter of yesteryear legend Sharmila Tagore and sister of top actor Saif Ali Khan,never had much of a métier in films. To the surprise of many,Soha seems to have found her groove with this show.

When dishing out style tips,Soha is gentle and assertive at the same time. She is quietly chic,incredibly elegant and holds the screen with her easy eloquence. That she loves fashion — or even style — is a given,considering she is a product of privilege and western education. She is also in step with trends,she wears pencil skirts and crop summer jackets with French élan. She wears a bouffant,a chignon or a side braid with effortless ease.

This is the first time we see Soha as she really is; in movies,she’s often hiding behind a character. In an interview to a TV channel,she says this was both the incentive as well as “terrifying”. While most upcoming actors would’ve politely declined the ‘small screen’,aren’t we glad she took the chance?

It doesn’t bother her that she’s sharing screen space with a big designer,Soha holds her own with grace and spunk. Aki and Soha share a great onscreen rapport,which brings traction to the show as well. They are wicked,if not barbarous,and their camaraderie makes them a good team.

Of course,the show is ridden with all that niggles a reality show. There is a sob story that often gets sorted out once the confidence-building makeover is done. (Can fashion save the world? Yes,yes and another resounding yes. Or at least,it makes you look good when all else fails.)

There are breakdowns and meltdowns — a husband falls in love with his wife once more and goes down on bended knee. This being India,the land of hospitality and etiquette,the hosts are sparing in their sarcasm as they unapologetically junk scores and scores of clothes from a participant’s wardrobe,favourite items notwithstanding.

There is enough cheese and shmaltz to put you off. But you stay turned on,tuned in,night after night. Because at the end of it all,we all love a happy ending.

Especially one that ends with a new handbag and high heels.

namratanow@gmail.com

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