Bollywood star Vidya Balan is known for wearing beautiful sarees but the actress says it is only because of comfort that she oftens dons the traditional outift.
The 38-year-old "Kahaani" actress was speaking at a panel discussion on "The Global Design and Innovation: Branding India Globally" at the ongoing Make in India Week here.
"There was no agenda behind it but to be myself. Slowly and steadily, when I started making appearances in anything but a saree, people started saying 'Oh we thought you'd come in a saree'. I enjoy wearing all kinds of saree and I do wear other things occasionally," she said.
"But I didn't consciously brand myself as that. I am not even aware of the fact that people are seeing me as a custodian of saree."
Vidya faced a lot of flak from fashion critics for her dressing sense in the initial phase of her career.
"I wore a lot of clothes that I got punished for. I realised I would get punished for the rest of my life if I don't take stock... I decided if I enjoy wearing saree so much I'll just wear it and if people don't like it, too bad.
"Before that I was doing things to make people happy, but they weren't happy and neither was I. So then I started focusing on my happiness and people said 'wow' because I am most comfortable in it," Vidya said.
She feels proud that many actresses have followed her suit.
"It gives me great pleasure when people say we are now inspired to wear sarees. If people are getting encouraged to wear saree that's great, but there was no agenda on my part."
Indian products should be more aspirational if people want the world to notice them, she said.
"I think we lack the aspirational quality when it comes to Indian luxury products. May be we don't value them enough so we have not marketed them in a way where people from around the world look at it and talk about our work. We have a lot to offer," she said.
Also present at the panel discussion were Ritu Beri, founder, The Luxury League; Mia Lundstrom, Antigone Schilling, French fashion journalist; Manish Arora, designer; and Bandana Tewari.
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