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Revealed: Where costumes worn by Bollywood stars in films end up

Most outfits worn by stars and the rest of the cast in a film end up in the production house’s trunks. And later, these clothes are mixed and matched for extras and background dancers in other films 

Ever wondered what happens to the numerous outfits worn by actors in a film? Bollywood stars break into a song on screen, crooning atop snow-capped mountains, flowing valleys and exotic flower beds or, gyrating in different costumes every nanosecond. By the time the last shot of the film is taken, there are stacks of clothes left behind.

(L- R) Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan in the Kajra Re song from Bunty aur Babli (2005)
(L- R) Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan in the Kajra Re song from Bunty aur Babli (2005)

Some may be garish, others outlandish and some wearable off screen as well, but most make their way to the production house’s trunks, or petis in Bollywood parlance. They are stacked and rehashed for the production house’s future projects.

Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma in the 2010 film Band Baaja Baaraat
Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma in the 2010 film Band Baaja Baaraat

Of course, at times, something an actor fancies goes home with him or her (no questions asked). Or when celebrity designers are styling for the lead stars, the outfits go with the designer. It all comes under the production costs incurred for a film.

Actress Ayesha Khanna, who starred in the recent release Dishkiyaaon, has been a stylist for Yash Raj Films such as Band Baja Baaraat (2010) and Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl (2011). She says, “At Yash Raj, all the costumes are stacked in petis. Each peti is labelled so that you know exactly for which film the lead stars, supporting cast and the extras wore the clothes. Later, for another film, things get mixed and matched.”

Ayesha cites an example, “Aishwarya Rai’s Kajra Re item number outfit from the 2005 film Bunty Aur Babli was used on a background dancer in Band Baaja Baaraat in 2010. It was mixed and matched. The choli was worn with another ghaghra, so it was impossible that anyone will notice it.”

However, not all stylists follow this mantra. Navin Shetty has styled for several films, including Zanjeer, Himmatwala and Agneepath. He styles Ajay Devgn in his films, too. The designer does not believe in the reuse theory or in cutting corners. “I approach every film afresh. I don’t recycle stuff or rehash from costumes used in an earlier project. After understanding the actor’s character in the film, I go about making the costumes. Sometimes they may be bought off the shelves, if something catches my fancy and I feel it suits the character.”

He adds, “Once the shoot is over, everything goes to the production house’s petis. It is their property, I have nothing to do with it. By that time I have moved on to another project.” He also styled brother-in-law, director Rohit Shetty, for the ongoing reality show, Khatron Ke Khiladi which he hosts. “All his outfits have gone back to the production house,” he adds.

B-Town designer, Leepakshi Ellawadi, who is currently styling Shraddha Kapoor for Ek Villain says, “For a designer, once the film’s shoot is complete, so is the job. What the production house or the stars do with the outfits, is their prerogative. Often an actor wants to add his or her touch to his/her look in the film and gets stuff from his/her own wardrobe.”

She earlier styled Amitabh Bachchan in his 2011 film Bbuddah... Hoga Terra Baap. Big B had accompanied her on a shopping trip in London. “We picked up a lot of high-end labels. Several alterations had to be made. He was apprehensive about whether he could carry it off, but he pulled it off well.”

Even when stars have taken a personal interest in the shopping, the stuff usually goes back to the petis.

“Some actors may like an outfit and want to keep it for nostalgia’s sake, but it is no big deal,” concludes Ayesha.

One film, 125 costumes
Aishwarya Rai wore over 125 costumes in Vipul Shah’s 2010 film Action Replayy. The makers claimed that it was a record as most Bollywood films have 40 costume changes on an average including those in songs. The wrap-up shot alone had the actress doing nine dress changes. The justification came from the fact that Ash’s character had a fetish for clothes. Vipul realised that the number of costumes were high when the person who was managing Ash’s costumes kept demanding more and more space to store them.

Small screen scene

On the small screen, too, outfits are often reused. Television designer Nikhat Neerushaa who styles actors for the ongoing mythological show Devon Ke Dev Mahadev among other shows says, “The saris and lehengas of the saas-bahus are often reused by production houses.”

The saris that Akshara (Hina Khan) wears in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hain have takers off screen as well
The saris that Akshara (Hina Khan) wears in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hain have takers off screen as well

TV producer Rajan Shahi (Aur Pyar Ho Gaya and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai) maintains, “We give a contract to a supplier and the outfits are returned after use. Clothes are not repeated to maintain freshness in the look. For special episodes such as wedding sequences, we get clothes stitched in advance,” he explains.

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