When one thinks of Gujarati movies from the yesteryears, the imagery that distinctly appears is of Naresh Kanodia in his shepherd kediyu and Snehlata in her ready-to-dance rental chaniya cholis. Typically set in the hinterlands of the state, the movies essentially had rustic aesthetics that were well accepted in the regional cinema. They were the trendsetters for Gujarati audience that waited for the movies with bated breath.The plot resonated with the rural population resulting in its popularity rising to the peak. However, with increased exposure to the Hindi & other regional cinema and changing lifestyles, the gap between the real life and reel life increased considerably.
The reel life was still stuck in the 80’s.
In 2012, the Gujarati movie industry witnessed a sea change in the way movies were being made. Suddenly the plots, characters and dialogues seemed real, as if carefully picked from our every day life experiences. Contemporary story lines depicting trials and tribulations of the new age youth, fresh faces and visually pleasing frames started dominating the Gujarati cinema. Directors started paying extra attention to visuals of the movie as the youth, their new audience, was heavily influenced by the aesthetic frames.
And with visuals, came fashion and styling.
Don’t we all remember Mumtaz’s look in ‘Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charche’, Madhuri’s look in ‘Hum aapke hain kaun’, Karisma Kapoor in ‘Dil toh Paagal Hai’, Deepika Padukone in ‘Cocktail’& ‘Piku’ ?
The looks became memorable as they were carefully thought through and styled by the stylists of the movie.
I got the opportunity to style one such contemporary Gujarati movie this year – Passport.
It definitely was a maiden effort to style the movie characters. Challenges were umpteen considering the overall fraternity is still at its nascent stage in terms of acceptance of better visuals as a need and my understanding of the functioning of this fraternity. However Passport’s Director and Director of Photography were keen and focused on exploring better visuals in each frame, that made my job easier.
Passport is directed by Rajesh Sharma and produced by Vinman Productions. Starring Malhar Thakar (hot favourite of Gujarati Cinema), Anna Ador, Lipi Goyal, Ujjval Dave, Ashish Vashi and Jayesh More, Passport is the story of an American student who comes to Ahmedabad to explore the culture through education and loses her passport. It is essentially a comedy of errors.
Each character was different and had to have a unique style of dressing.
The brief was to keep it as real as possible and still create a style quotient.
( Images are a mix of Look-test that we did before the final look was finalized and few from the film sets)
Anna Ador,playing the role of Anna, is an American student who has come to Ahmedabad in educational exchange programme to study art. She gets inspired from Aditi’s ( Lipi Goyal) style. Hence her initial style in the movie is understated and chic; comprising of neutral toned western wear like casual Tee-shirts and cargo pants.
As the movie progresses, her style gradually transforms with addition of Indian quintessential elements like silver jewellery, stoles, skirts, kurta and palazzos. Since she is a foreigner, her colour palatte was kept neutral initially and later progressed to bright colours in Indian ethnics.
Malhar Thakar, the protagonist of the movie, plays the character of Kabir who is a happy-go-lucky person. He is street smart and rugged guy who is studying in creative field but also works as a house broker. His style needed to have easy and effortless feel wherein the character easily slips in and out from wearing trendy Tee-shirt and layered shirts to kurta and jeans. He looks every bit of a modern college going guy who likes to try his hand at different styles, albeit effortlessly.
Lipi Goyal plays the role of Aditi, who is friends with Kabir and Shyam ( played by Ujjwal Dave). She belongs to an affluent family and is an arty character. She loves to talk and dresses well. Her style is the one that will resonate with most of the college going girls who are high on fashion quotient.
Her style involves everything from today’s fashion world – Jeans & Shirts to Kurta , patiyala, skirts and palazzos. Accentuated with silver jewellery and bindi, Lipi’s style serves as an inspiration to Anna in the later part of the movie.
Ujjval Dave plays the role of Shyam; a guy who comes from small town who tries to fit in the big city culture. His dressing option was thus limited to only tee-shirts and jeans. The choice of his staid and just-about-there Tee-shirts was consciously made to make his character more real and relatable as a small town guy who is conscious to try different fashion trends.
Ashish Vashi plays the role of ‘Don’ who is keen to send his daughter off to the foreign shores for a better prospect. He is characterized as a Don who has lost his glory but still loves to bask in it while his two extra men keep feeding his bruised ego. To give an eerie feeling of a Don who uses one liners to make his point, Ashish Vashi was styled in overall white look – Pathani and white shoes accessorized with gold junk jewellery – chain, bracelet, watch and finger rings. Intermittently glares were used to create the comical essence.
Jayesh More plays the role of ‘thief’ who loves to call himself a ‘con artist’. Since stealing is his art form, the pre-requisite for his styling was that he needed to merge in the crowd. His clothes had to be as simple as possible; the one’s that you may encounter while passing through the narrow lanes of old city markets. His clothes thus had neutral and staid tones to it. To add effect to his overall character, accessories like hand scarf were given to him.
I personally still feel, it is still a long way before Fashion Styling would become essential for Gujarati movies. Directors and Producers need to be sensitized for the need of better visuals in addition to strong content in the movie. Along with the need for better visuals comes the additional responsibility of hiring right talent for the work.
In case you have seen the movie, you might be able to share whether you liked the styling or not. In case you haven’t as yet, do watch it🙂
( A big thank you to Harsh Vasanani for trusting my skills and the Costume Department team – Aneri Nihalani, Mittal and Palak for managing the shoot schedules for garments so well. Shout out to Make up artist Akash and Hair Stylist Nik for bearing with my quirks of Do’s and Don’ts and creating perfect looks for the characters)