Top 6 Bollywood Movies With Stunning Costumes

Aishwarya Rai Bachan, a well know name in Bollywood.

Costumes are a cardinal part of any production and when it comes to movies, production houses go beyond the limits of the sky to make their costumes iconic such that they are etched in the viewer’s mind beyond the clutches of forget.

When it comes to Bollywood the opulence in the costume department is above human imagination as the population of India depend more on fashion trends shown on the screen rather than runways. A heroine’s career rests on the hands of the costume designer. People through the years remember her on the basis of the freshness of her costume, its diaphanous nature, how flattering it was on her body (only for men) etc. For example Mandakini’s dare devil act of sitting under a waterfall clad in a chiffon saree in Ram Teri Ganga Maili sky-rocketed her to being a sex-bomb in the Bollywood industry. Costumes therefore decide the degree of sensuousness for an actress. Apart from aesthetics, costumes are an impetus used by film makers to denote the timeline of the movie.

In Bollywood an actor is defined by her clothes. Mandakini managed to break away from that.

Here are is a list of 10 Bollywood movies which have stood the test of time and till date remain evergreen in terms of draping their characters correctly.

1. Mughla- E- Azam, 1960

Mughal-e-azam was India’s first black and white film to be made into color.

This epic movie illustrated the Mughal opulence in India. Thus when it came to the costumes of the Emperor Akbar and his favourite courtesan Anakali; costume designers Makhanlal and Co. had a majestic wardrobe to drape the royal characters.

Mughla-e-Azam was one of the few big budgeted films made in the formative years of the Hindi Film Industry. Millions were spent to bring alive Jahangir’s love for a simple court dancer on the screen; eventually a strong film like this which made statements all over the world with its pompous show of glitz and glamour left its foot prints in the fashion industry as well. The result of the costumes showcased on screen is still seen in every Indian woman’s wardrobe in the name of the anarkali salwar. The anarkali salwar has wonderful tulle below the bust. This evergreen style of salwar has been created over and over through the ages by Indian designers and is graciously worn by Indian women.

Madhubala mesmerized her viewers with her mystic grace.

2. An Evening In Paris, 1967

The movie was a symbol of new era in Bollywood.

This movie was an aesthetic break for the audience from the epics on screen as it was shot in Paris. The costumes designed by Mini Johar & Mani J. Rabdi for lead actress Sharmila Tagore was highly westernized for the then Indian film goers. This movie has been ear marked in Bollywood history for it heroine’s wardrobe as this was the first time a bikini was worn on the Indian screen by an Indian actress.

Although a bikini is not exactly found in every Indian woman’s wardrobe yet this movie showed the beauty of the garment without de-glamorizing or evoking questions of morality of its wearer.

The iconic striped bikini.

3. Umrao Jaan, 1981

Umrao Jaan was a heart breaking story of a durbar dancer.

By the 1980’s the Indian population had grown accustomed to seeing depictions of epic love stories on screen but Umrao Jaan carved a mark of its own in history with Rekha’s tumultuous performance as a dancer in Lukhnow’s durbar. Designer Subhashini Ali accordingly draped her in exclusive white silks with golden embroideries. This combination not only soared the majestic yet mystic factor of dancer, it also portrayed their regal beauty and power.

An iconic ensemble of the costumes was the decorative ornament piece attached on one side of the forehead called side dekhadaman. Umrao Jaan did more justice to this beautiful head piece than just being a prop for an actress as this jewelry has now been adopted as a cultural piece and is often seen on a Muslim bride.

Rekha’s stunning portrayal of Umrao Jaan escalated her to a diva before the audience.

4. Rangeela, 1995

Rangeela introduced a new fashion dimension in Indian wardrobe.

This movie is known for its bold yet elegant costumes donned by actress Urmila Matonkar. The Manish Malhotra creations were modern and bold and were an eye opener for the regular Indian woman as she had found a more westernized and fashionable means of draping herself.

The mid-rib show was first seen in this film and was soon adopted by women in the streets of Bombay and as we know the mid-rib show is back to embrace women’s wardrobe again! The minimalistic make-up and non-decorative look of Urmila introduced a new fashion dimension for Indian women.

The costumes were bold and elegant yet they managed to keep a girlish look.

5. Devdas, 2002

Sanjay Leela Bansali spoke of an era gone by with beauty and fashion.

This movie was created for the sole purpose of showcasing love between two individuals of equal beauty but unequal economic status yet this inequality is not seen in the Neeta Lulla apparels worn by Aishwarya as they speak proudly of the ancient Bengal sophistication.

These beauties complimented each other throughout the movie.

These sarees were not new to the lovers of the nine yards yet the stylization of the pious white saree with red border introduced a sexy image in the minds of Indian men and women alike when the world saw Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai gracefully twirling in them. This is one of the major reason why this saree usually worn for temple trips by Bengali women has become a staple in every closet.

6. Jodha Akabar, 2008

An iconic movie in its concept as it brought to light the power a women played in shaping India’s history.

This movie told more than just a love story between the most powerful Mughal emperor of India, Akbar and his Hindu wife Jodha. It brought to lime light the cardinal role Jodha Bai played in preventing a massive battle in India between the Mughal kingdom and the other Indian princely states. Thus for this magnanimous role, Aishwarya Rai had to look more than a pretty princess, she had to emanate power and influence. Neeta Lulla does this rightfully through every single attire.

Looks from the movie

This movie impacted the average Indian wardrobe in a big way as it served to bring back in fashion heavy Indian jewelry along with it; its elegance and sophistication. Heavy necklace covering the whole chest became a trend for Indian brides.

Heavy pieces such as these Kundan sets have become a favourite among Indian brides.

Indian fashion is dictated by Bollywood and the star system dominates it. The above mentioned pieces and their presence in an Indian woman’s life is strong enough to prove Bollywood’s significance in wardrobes.

© 2014 Sharanya Munsi

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