By: Screen Weekly, IndiaFM
Monday, January 01, 2007
His oh-so-hot Mr A act in Dhoom 2 is being termed this year's biggest screen scorcher, but Hrithik Roshan does not think that he should be singled for the credit. "I think the real hero of Dhoom 2 is Anaita Shroff Adajania," he says. If you ask "Anaita - Who?", then just go back to Roshan's stylishly muddy ganji, Bipasha Basu's take-that-Pamela Anderson-bikini, Aishwarya Rai's micro-minis or Abhishek Bachchan's no-nonsense striped shirts. Costume stylists dressed down Saif Ali in Being Cyrus and then did a bungee jump to Dhoom 2.
"In terms of style, Dhoom 2 is a global village film," jokes Adajania. She sourced Basu's bikini in London, Rai's blue top from Rio de Janeiro and her white micro-mini from New York. The globetrotting was not a whim but pretty much part of creative producer Aditya Chopra's brief. "Adi was very clear that he wanted Dhoom 2 to be the hottest-looking film in the history of Indian cinema," she laughs. And if that meant extensive research for more than a year and even dressing up the background dancers, then so be it.
Time was when Jeetendra wore all-white shirt, trousers and shoes. Now think Shah Rukh Khan's grungy gaberdine jackets and Rani Mukerji's chantilly lace and net sarees and streamlined skirts with corsets in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Abhishek Bachchan's Kashmiri shawl with sherwanis in Umrao Jaan, Salman Khan's brown corduroy coat in Jaan-e-Man and SRK's without-collar ties in Don. Or even Saif Ali Khan's clothes in Omkara, which had a green hue to suggest envy, the mainstay of his character in the film.
In today's multiplex-driven looking-like-Hollywood, a costume stylist is no longer just your dresswala. These days, they are booked before actors are. Ask Karan Johar who went on with Manish Malhotra's clothes in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna even if it meant an extra large dent in the production budget. Much before Johar got the combination dates of his blockbuster cast, the filmmaker and his favourite couturier traipsed around New York to lend authenticity to the dressing. "Karan and I bought stuff from brands like Etro, Diesel and Prada from New York. The Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group also sponsored us, so we got bags from Christian Dior and LV. While the scenes were being shot, I was constantly hunting for one outfit or another," says Malhotra.
How difficult can it be to get intelligent in a commercial masala Bollywood film, right? Quite difficult. Ask Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who took on the Ravi Chopra film Baabul, his second since Black. "While Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film was completely out of the box, this one posed a real challenge. Frankly, it's quite easy to do a film where you can be intellectual but to be intellectual and zany in a commercial film is difficult," he says. In Baabul, he says, he evolved as a designer since "I had to do the works in the masala framework and yet make Rani's character believable." His approach: Since she plays an artist in the first half, he dressed her up in quirky stuff while in the second half when she's married, he went all out to create a gallery with sarees. His next assignment: Yash Raj Films next to be directed by Pradeep Sarkar where he is dressing Rani, Konkona Sen Sharma and Jaya Bachchan.
In a stylist's vocabulary, God does reside in the details. So if Adajania has a logical explanation for why Abhishek Bachchan is not wearing glasses in Dhoom 2 ("he's got contacts now"), fashion designer Aki Narula will tell you that Shah Rukh Khan's satin floral shirts in Don are a tribute to the 70s. "Especially in the song 'Yeh mera dil...', I wanted SRK to pay a tribute to the era of the original Don. I remember my dad used to get these floral shirts from Bangkok so I decided to go with it," he says. As also SRK's grey shirt in 'Khaike paan Banaraswala...' where Narula used the same motif as worn by Amitabh Bachchan in the original. In Bunty Aur Babli, he referenced the street chic of Punjab - from hankies used as accessories to the scrunchies matched by the outfit - to create a whole new urban-meets-rural chic look.
So, is it science behind the art? Partly. "Designing for films is not just about buying expensive brands with Versace and Armani printed all over them," says Malhotra. "Whenever I source clothes, I like to play around with the styling."
Narula did it with his signature style of Don, the without-collar tie worn by SRK. "I wanted to use the polka-dotted bow tie that Mr Bachchan wore in the film but I needed to upgrade it to 2006 so I decided to do ties with the shirts. The idea was that if you put it around the neck, it could look like a cravat. That enhances the cool quotient of SRK's character."
Character is the operative word. Today's director wants to get his character right, down to the way he folds his sleeves or keeps a stubble. As Malhotra says, "The trick is to weave the clothes as part of the narrative, so when you're watching an actor, you're not thinking,"Oh God, why is this guy's muffler so large?"
That's the fear plaguing Nikhil Advani for his forthcoming Salaam-e-Ishq. "My brief to costume stylist Vikram Phadnis was to follow the characters. Agar picture dekhne ke baad log bole ki kapde acche the to we would have failed," he says. For the director of Kal Ho Naa Ho, styling is an important aspect. "Styling is not just about clothes, it has to establish the character who takes my story forward. Like in the film, John and Vidya play a newly married couple so we've shown that when they wake up in the morning, John is wearing the pajama while Vidya is in the kurta." In Salaam-e-Ishq, all 12 actors have been given a colour code. Since Chopra plays an 'item' girl, she has been given excessive reds, purples and gold. John and Vidya have lots of reds and whites to play around with. Akshaye Khanna and Ayesha Takia grapple with blue and green while Govinda who plays a taxi driver gets rustic and warm hues.
When styling gets this serious, it can stick on too. If a look clicks for an actor, he flaunts it off-screen too. Look at Abhishek Bachchan. Post his stubble-and-two-buttons-undone-style-in Dus, he's stuck to the look in his other films and elsewhere. Ditto for the coloured lapels in suits that he's flaunting post KANK. The hairband that he displays at public functions these days is also a part of his look in the forthcoming Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.