Toning down the glamour quotient

Ace Bollywood costume stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania tells us what went into creating Alia Bhatt’s look for Dear Zindagi, which releases this week

Four years ago, when filmmaker Gauri Shinde released her debut film English Vinglish, she gained a fan in ace Bollywood costume stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania.

Cut to 2016, and Shinde roped in Adajania to build the wardrobe of Kaira, a budding cinematographer in search of a perfect life, played by the talented Alia Bhatt in the forthcoming Dear Zindagi. Adajania, who has worked on costumes for 19 films including Dear Zindagi, had not worked with Shinde or Bhatt as a costume designer before. And she’s all praise for them. “Gauri is very close to her characters and that really helps you as a stylist. As for Alia, she doesn’t interfere in the wardrobe department. She’s extremely receptive and was amazing to work with. I could totally identify with Dear Zindagi and Alia’s character in the film. It’s a coming-of-age story of this generation, and I loved it,” says Adajania, who is also Vogue India’s fashion director.

She recalls the first day of shoot in Goa. “When SRK came in, everyone was so excited. Everybody loves him, as we know. The ease with which the scene went through was amazing. It was a special feeling for me to see Kaira come to life,” says the designer, who had to decline the offer to work on Shah Rukh Khan’s wardrobe for the film owing to prior commitments. Adajania sees a lot of herself in Alia’s character in the film. “I would wear a lot of what Kaira wears,” she says.

A predominantly casual wardrobe — featuring distressed denim, denim cutaways, tank tops, military-inspired jackets, kimono jackets, maxi dresses, off-the-shoulder tops and ganjees in off colours — is what Alia can be seen wearing in the film. And while the brief to her from Shinde was to keep her look as real as possible, the huge emotional graph the character goes through in the film also served as a strong reference point for Adajania while designing the costumes. “Alia’s character lives in Mumbai, is independent, and has a natural sense of style. That was a very big starting point for me. By profession, she’s a DOP (director of photography), therefore very much from the movie-making business. She enjoys fashion, likes to play with it, and acknowledges it as a part of her life. Yet, at times, she would like to be hidden in a crowd. She’s not there to make a spectacle of herself. Therefore, she wouldn’t wear a super tight mini or a blingy outfit. We did a few sessions on what the character would or would not wear. We worked very hard for the film to have a distinct look,” says Adajania.

The film required Adajania to source clothes from the streets of Bangkok, Colaba Causeway and Janpath as well as from popular high street brands such as Zara, Bershka, Pull and Bear, and Topshop. It’s exactly how a working girl in her early 20s would shop for herself. “Kaira doesn’t dress beyond her means. You won’t find her carrying a designer bag for instance. I travelled a lot in the course of making the film and insisted on vintage elements in the form of wallpaper prints, ’60s old florals prints for her clothes,” says the designer. “You do see the character at home as well, wearing ripped T-shirts and cutesy clothes. But when she’s away from the city, she’s in bikini tops or a shorter skirt, and her wardrobe reflects a certain vacation feel in those shots.”

Accessories for Bhatt’s look have been kept simple and minimal. She wears one pendant throughout the film, along with thin rings and a pair of cat-eyed, oversized glasses from Topshop. “The glasses were Gauri’s idea. I got the pendant customised from London. It has a few vintage brass charms including the letter ‘K’ for Kaira. Since the character loves playing with rings, we gave her midi rings stacked together,” says Adajania.

With Bollywood being the strongest trendsetter in the country, Bhatt’s youthful on-trend wardrobe in the film is likely to become a fashion influence for young women in the country. “Light layering has become an important part of how we dress, and the open kaftan top worn over jeans will emerge as a strong trend from the film,” Adajania says.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 7:48:19 PM |

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