When Bollywood beckons


A chat with designer Narendra Kumar as he shifts focus from the ramp to films.

one vital vitamin that a bollywood designer must possess? resilience. without it, you're nowhere close to making headway.

He is the latest designer to leap onto the Bollywood bandwagon. Former fashion editor of Elle and the current toast of the Indian and international fashion circuit, the slick, hat-sporting Narendra Kumar Ahmed has begun weaving his magic on filmi figures. Excerpts from an interview:

You are sporting the ‘cat gobbled the canary’ look these days. Explain.

I’m involved in the craziest, challenging genre of adventure films, the first of their kind in India. Look out for “Prince” where I have styled Vivek Oberoi in cutting edge threads, like a sharp comic book character coming alive from the pages onto the big screen. In “Aladdin”, it is a fantasy spiel with mind-blowing ensembles for everyone including Mr. Bachchan and then there is “Blue”, an action underwater film. Each of these projects carries production values akin to a super Hollywood project.

You have designed for international names like Kylie Minogue too. What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Well, it was a natural progression, designing for films after years for the ramp. I’ve designed for Kylie Minogue and Akshay Kumar in “Blue”.

Then it was a tremendous challenge designing for Vivek in “Prince”. His character leaps off 55-storeyed-buildings a la an urban hero and has to wear natty yet functional clothes that can camouflage the hundred-odd wires to safety net his fall. Last minute changes in schedules and locations demanded on-the-spot innovations, but we managed well, in retrospect.

After the success of “Fashion”, you are in heavy demand in Bollywood.

Priyanka Chopra’s looks were applauded in “Fashion”. We were able to capture the genesis and transformation of her character through five different looks. How she morphs from a Delhi chick in dangling ear rings, wedges and fringed capris to a scarlet, ramp goddess in flowing gowns and edgy dresses. Though I had designed for John Abraham in “No Smoking” earlier, “Fashion” was the first film I did in entirety.

How do you handle starry demands and tantrums?

There is nothing I cannot handle (laughs). I thrive under pressure and am conditioned to deliver within manic deadlines. That is the thrill of working and that is what makes me tick.

Your favourite three clothes hangers...

Priyanka Chopra for tailored dresses, Kangana Ranaut for razor-sharp cuts and Mughda Godse for flowing gowns.

Where to get them

Narendra’s clothes are pegged at Rs. 3000 and above. He retails through his flagship studio at Courtyard 41/44 Minoo Desai Marg SP Centre, Mumbai 400005 and also through high-end boutiques across India like ffolio, Kimmaya, Ogaan, Aza, Melange and Ensemble

One vital vitamin that a Bollywood designer must possess?

Resilience. Without it, you’re nowhere close to making headway.