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So what’s a Guru Kurta?

Wake up designers,here is a menswear collection waiting to be inspired by the superstar who signed off life.

Written by Shefalee Vasudev | New Delhi |
July 20, 2012 11:30:00 am

Wake up designers,here is a menswear collection waiting to be inspired by the superstar who signed off life

For me,the Indian kurta is like salt in food. It has an all-important presence in our wardrobes and our (yet unwritten) fashion history. Long and short kurtas,kurtis and kurta-fantastique (the hyped variety that bride grooms in India wear and NRIs sport for Indian functions abroad),it is difficult to imagine our clothing lives without one.

But what is a guru kurta,pray? Why was the word guru prefixed to the kurtas Rajesh Khanna wore? What appears is that the round necked,collared,A-line kurtas India’s first superstar wore so passionately and so stylishly were called “guru” because,well,in those days only those with a spiritual bent (gurus really) wore those kinds with round necks.

Then because Kaka held women in such a seductive sway,men would call him Guru. Guru aadmi hai,they would say,as in an expert.

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If you de-link the word guru from the kurta,Kaka definitely gave it a very strong,individual stamp by wearing them the way he did.

While his kurtas in Anand,Kati Patang and his Bengali bhadralok look in Amar Prem are steadfast in many memories,Rajesh Khanna’s style really spilled over in other films too. Bandhan with Sharmila Tagore,Do Raaste with Mumtaz,Doli with Babita (all 1969); The Train with Nanda,Aan Milo Sajna with Asha Parekh (both 1970); Chhoti Bahu with Sharmila Tagore,Haathi Mere Saathi,Mehboob Ki Mehndi with Leena Chandavarkar (all 1971)–he not only worn kurtas with turned back collars and shirts with sleeves rolled back but made the kurta a middle class fashion entity.

This was before John Bissell opened the doors of Fabindia in the mid and late seventies and the kurta didn’t have a branded surname.

Kaka’s pairing of colourful kurtas with pants was also the first androgynous style that India saw—soon heroines like Mumtaz,Zeenat Aman,Leena Chandavarkar and Hema Malini were seen wearing kurtas with pants. I suggest that an Indian designer wake up to a sitting duck as an idea for a collection that makes a point and can be dedicated to Kaka.

A menswear range of Guru kurtas paired with straight bottoms. Models shouldn’t just be male but both genders should walk the range to show us once again what a Guru cheez Mr Khanna was.

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