It is easy to miss Madhav Mens Mode a menswear store on Waterfield Road in Bandra,Mumbai,known by its acronym MMM. Inside,it doesnt have the glamorous décor often associated with a designer store barring stacks of fabrics as well as a rack full of kurtas,bandhgalas,jackets and suits. However,if you meet its owner Madhav Agasti,chances are that he would be smiling ear to ear. He has just come back after meeting Indias 13th President,Pranab Mukherjee,a day before the Presidential swearing-in ceremony.
Agasti,a trusted designer for some of Indias top politicians,has been designing formal outfits for Mukherjee for nearly four years now. I was introduced to him by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Since then,I have made several bandhgalas and kurta-churidars for him (Mukherjee). Bandhgalas,particularly in black,are his favourite and I have now got another order to design a dinner jacket with a Jodhpur collar, reveals the designer. Agasti has just personally delivered a fresh set of outfits for the newly elected President.
With over 37 years of experience,creating finely-cut menswear is a talent that Agasti has nurtured and his client list boasts of the whos who of Indian politics. My work transcends the barriers of party allegiances. From Congress and NCP to BJP and Shiv Sena,I make clothes for several politicians now. They comprise a chunk of my clientèle, says the 62-year-old,who counts the likes of Sharad Pawar,LK Advani,Praful Patel,Vilasrao Deshmukh,Bal Thackeray,Nitish Kumar,Farooq Abdullah and PA Sangma,among his many clients.
But what makes Mumbai-based Agastis journey even more fascinating is the fact that it can be traced back to the 70s,when he started out as a designer for costumes of character artistes in Bollywood. One of the first films that he designed for was the Amol Palekar-starrer Apne Paraye. After that he went on to design for over 300 films. In many of these films,I made clothes for the key negative character. I have dressed up Pran,Ajit,Kader Khan and Amrish Puri too. One of my best received creations was Amrish Puris Mogambo avatar from Mr India and I still get compliments for it, he recollects. Within a few years of working for movies,he got offers to design for politicians. Sushil Kumar Shinde,NKP Salve and Jawaharlal Darda were some of the local names that I started designing for in the early 80s. Since then,there has been no looking back. I kept getting introduced to more people from the fraternity and work offers kept pouring in, he says.
Today,with a flourishing business,Agasti concedes that hes in a happy place. He,however,refused to mention anything about his turnover other than the fact that prices of suits at his Bandra store start at Rs 12,000. Next moment he is on the phone with Pradyut Guha,personal assistant to the President,who is all praises for Agasti. Pranabda has been wearing suits made by Agasti for a while now, Guha says.
Ask Agasti about the future and he says that his sons Shantanu and Rahul are going to take his work forward. While Rahul has his own store,Shantanu has been working with him and adding more contemporary lines to his collection. And what about designing for movies? The last movie I worked on was Welcome,where I did Nana Patekar and Paresh Rawals clothes. But designing for movies is not the same as before. Today,a stylist sources clothes from luxury brands. So there isnt much for me to do, he says. Fashion shows too dont figure on his agenda as his work leaves him with little time to do much else. Politicians today are a lot more conscious of what they wear. They attach a lot of importance to the fit and the right fabric be it linen,khadi or wool, he says.