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A stitch too many: When clothes dominated over content in Bollywood

Anushka Sharma gets to don as many as 140 plus costumes in her next film. We take a look at some films seem that took pride in weaving themselves around the heroine’s clothes...

Some films keep the actresses more busy changing their clothes than reading out their dialogues. The latest instance is Anushka Sharma who will have over 140 costume changes in Anurag Kashyap film, Bombay Velvet.

Anushka Sharma, who plays a jazz singer in Bombay Velvet, is apparently undergoing hundreds of costume changes in the film order to reinforce her character's glamorous avatar
Anushka Sharma, who plays a jazz singer in Bombay Velvet, is apparently undergoing hundreds of costume changes in the film order to reinforce her character's glamorous avatar

Niharika Khan, the costume designer of the film, says that since Anushka plays a jazz singer in the film, her costumes have to reflect her glamorous lifestyle. “Her character leads this regular daily life and then she has this life as a stage singer. All this means that her character needs a lot of costume changes. Besides, it is a film that spans over two decades,” says Khan, adding that Anushka’s look needs to dwell on retro glamour and that her costumes will accordingly have a Parisian touch to them.

Priyanka Chopra changed into more than a 100 costumes when she played a supermodel in Fashion (2008)
Priyanka Chopra changed into more than a 100 costumes when she played a supermodel in Fashion (2008)

All about the role
It may be pointed out here that Vidya Balan had about 100 odd costume changes in the film, The Dirty Picture. The film was loosely inspired from the life of southern actress Silk Smitha. Interestingly, it was Khan again who had styled Vidya in that film. She says, “She played an actress in the film so it was about her costumes in and out of the film scenes. Besides, when you are a star you cannot repeat a costume as you are always in the public eye.”

Sonam Kapoor donned more than 100 costumes in Aisha (2010)
Sonam Kapoor donned more than 100 costumes in Aisha (2010)

In her 2010 film, Action Replayy, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan’s character had more than 125 costume changes. In fact the wrap up shoot alone had the actress doing nine dress changes. Vipul Shah, the film’s director, told hitlist at that time that her costume changes were necessary as Ash’s character loves to dress up and is shown having a weakness for clothes. “It’s a script requirement; that’s how her character is etched out. She is simply a person who loves to wear clothes and keeps shopping all the time. I had no clue that the number of costumes had extended to such a number that the girl who was managing her costumes kept coming to me for more and more space to keep them. That’s when I realised that the number had gone so high,” Shah had said back then.

Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan had more than 125 costume changes in Action Replayy (2010)
Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan had more than 125 costume changes in Action Replayy (2010)

Glamour doesn’t hurt
Sonam Kapoor, who is known as a style icon, had more than 100 costume changes in her 2010 film, Aisha. In the film, an Indian adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, Sonam played a Delhi-based fashionista who is also a matchmaker. Given that the capital is much more fashion conscious than Mumbai, it should come as no surprise that Sonam’s character in the film had so many costume changes.

Vidya Balan wore 100 different outfits in The Dirty Picture (2011)
Vidya Balan wore 100 different outfits in The Dirty Picture (2011)

To add to this, it has emerged that the actress will again have umpteen costume changes in her forthcoming home production, Khubsoorat. She plays a physiotherapist in the film. A spokesperson for the film says, “We don’t want to talk about the costume changes in the film; we wish to stay away from that discussion. Of course, in Aisha there were many changes and we take pride in working with incredible people who come up with really good costume designs. In Khubsoorat, we are introducing another amazing talent; here Karuna Languani will capture the essence of urban desi girl.’’

Even in the 2008 film, Fashion, Priyanka Chopra’s character had more than 100 costume changes. In the film, the actress played a small town girl who comes to the city and becomes a supermodel. Kangna Ranaut had about 35 to 40 changes in it.

Why so many changes?
It can’t be denied that so many costume changes only add to the film’s production costs. So is it justified expenditure? Designer Ashley Rebello says, “Costume changes are needed particularly if the story spans a certain period of time. Also, today’s actors and actresses want to follow the script to the t; they want to do what is right for their character in the film. For instance, in Dabangg, Sonakshi had ten costume changes in the song, Tere mast mast do nain.’’

In the past

Ashley Rebello recollects his own experience when he was handling the costumes for Hum Saath Saath Hain (1997). Lead actresses Sonali Bendre and Karisma Kapoor had forty costume changes in the film.

“Since there were too many functions and events happening in the film, we had to include these costume changes,” he says. 

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