Saturday, April 1, 2000

Trend-setting starry styles
By Sumona Roy

SHARMILA Tagore’s mountainous hairdo, Jitendra’s white shoes, Rajesh Khanna’s kurtas, Saira Banu’s skin-tight salwar-kameezes and Amitabh Bachchan’s knotted shirts are some of the trend-setting styles produced by Hindi cinema from time to time.

But that was all in the past.

What is the latest contribution of the Hindi film industry to the world of fashion? Do present-day stars measure up to being role models? Are they as effective as their predecessors in setting off fashion trends? Or are they even conscious about fashion?

For Shah Rukh Khan, fashion means just a white shirt on blue jeans. For Sanjay Dutt, it would be nothing short of a Georgio Armani suit. And for Sunil Shetty, who owns a chain of boutiques in Bombay, it obviously means much, much more.

In between, there’s the simple down-to-earth Jackie Shroff, for whom the ultimate in fashion is a muslin saree tied like a turban. Otherwise, anything that is comfortable is good enough. Besides, given his height and perfect physique, he is a designer’s delight!

  Bobby Deol loves cotton shirts on his tight-fitting jeans, which he wears in film after film. He loves to shop in London, but ends up buying stuff exported from India. Elder brother Sunny Deol isn’t any different, only that he is more often seen in T-shirts as he moves from reel to real wear.

As for women, Kajol’s sporty togs in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is doing what Bhagyashree’s white salwar-kameez did with Maine Pyar Kiya a decade ago. Within a few months of the release of each of these films, the look was being replicated across the nation.

Observes well-known costume designer Leena Daru, who started with Asha Parekh by giving her a zip-up saree in Do Badan: "It is only women from the middle class who try to copy what they see on screen. For them, the stars represent fashion.

"That explains why the market was flooded with Chandni stuff a few years ago. The director, Yash Chopra, told me that Sridevi (who played the title role in the film) was cast as a middle-class girl. So the audience identification was total."

Then there’s Aishwarya Rai, who has developed her screen image on Neeta Lulla’s designs ever since she left modelling. Her ghagra-choli outfit from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is the current rage, especially during dandiya-raas festivities.

For Salman Khan, there’s the singlet-on-black trousers look that Shabeena created from the Maine Pyar Kiya days. And for Madhuri Dixit, Kajol, Karisma Kapoor and Urmila Matond-kar, there’s Bollywood’s hottest dress designer, Manish Malhotra.

Says Malhotra: "Today, all stars are conscious of their physique and take great pains to maintain it. In fact, fitness and confidence are the most important aspects of stardom. No wonder the younger generation is so completely sold out to Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt."

Malhotra, who gave Urmila that sexy image in Rangeela was happy that his minis became a rage, but now he is tired of those fluorescent colours, short skirts, straight hair and middle parting which every college girl in Bombay used to sport.

Now the trend is towards colours like ice-blue, old rose and light lemon green," he points out. "The cuts are simple and there has to be a certain transparency in fabrics. After all, with body fitness, sheer is in."

Small wonder, Madhuri in Dil To Pagal Hai became a trend-setter in just the same manner as she created a sensation with that backless choli in the Didi Tera Dewar Diwana number of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

Height also plays a crucial role in the outfit a star wears. Among women, Hema Malini and Rekha were considered tall enough with their 5’6" height. Today, heroines like Tabu (5’8") Pooja Batra (5’11") and Sushmita Sen (5’11") have changed the perception of tallness.

None of them can afford to wear short dresses (much as Tabu made an attempt in Jab Dil Kisi Pe Aata Hai) but look stunning in jeans because of their never-ending legs. They can also carry off evening gowns fabulously.

With directors like Aditya Chopra (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge) and Karan Johar (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai), making films on contemporary concerns, the dressing and the look of stars have to also be in tune with the times. Anything outlandish has no place here. (MF)