During a visit to a mall many months ago,Subarna Roy Chaudhari spotted a lady dressed in a leopard print top with a matching cap along with pink shoes and streaked hair. Although a fashion disaster,the costume designer filed away this memory as one of the many references for Vidya Balans costumes in her upcoming film,Ghanchakkar.
Until a few years ago,the idea of dressing up the leading lady of a film in anything short of glamorous would have been considered sacrilege in Bollywood. But with increasing emphasis on script and styling that supports the character,costume designers have come to enjoy creative liberties such as the one Roy Chaudhari has taken with Balans wardrobe. For instance,the polka-dotted pink and white blouse with a red bow on her hairband,the corset with lacy sleeves and a patch with the image of a guitar stitched on it. Or the red and white polka-dotted nightsuit that Emraan Hashmi wears for most part of the film.
Similarly,Ranbir Kapoor can be seen lying inside the boot of a car,wearing a golden-printed shirt atop another yellow shirt with blue trousers and shiny accessories in Abhinav Kashyaps next,Besharam. The still,released a few months ago,has already generated ample curiosity. The outfit and the picture composition has managed to garner attention, says stylist Kunal Rawal.
Designers say that the genesis of such quirky wardrobe lies in the characterisation. Ranbirs character in the film is from the real and contemporary world but it is also in the fun space, says Rawal. Chaudhari adds that the script she received from director Raj Kumar Gupta showed Balan as a loud,Punjabi character who is from a middle-class family. She aspires to look fashionable to add spice to her boring marriage,but lacks the sensibility. This made me look at people from similar backgrounds for inspiration, she says.
However,the credit also goes to the stars who are willing to shed their chic avatar and get under the skin of the character. Deepika Padukone,after her styling in Cocktail and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani,will be seen in lungis and pavadas (half sari) in Chennai Express. If the styling is apt,it helps an actor do full justice to the character. In the film I play a thorough South Indian girl and Manish Malhotras choice of clothes made me feel like one, says Padukone. Balan adds that it is part of her job to let the character take over so that eventually,her performance shines through and not just the clothes.
All three movies that will see stars dress quirky are comedies and while the genre allows for over-the-top styling,Rawal believes it isnt definitive. Humour does allow exaggeration but often enough,it is rooted in reality. Even a gangster drama can have a hero who dresses outrageously. But styling for character-driven scripts across genres needs research, says Chaudhari,who conducted a survey to see what kind of clothes sell among the middle-class. Malhotra,on the other hand,has studied the South Indian culture in order to dress Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan in the Rohit Shetty film.
However,the stylists warn that it is easy to tip over from quirky to unappealing. For example,Ranbirs clothes in the still may appear mismatched,but they are done so in a way that it all comes together, says Rawal.