Despite change of location, Smart and Hollywood's legacy continues

Updated: Jun 09, 2019, 06:39 IST | Arita Sarkar

Popular tailoring shop, with famous Bollywood clients, have moved from Esplanade Mansion

Despite change of location, Smart and Hollywood's legacy continues
Their new outlet at Third Pasta Lane in Colaba. Pics/Atul Kamble

Mohammed Yusuf and his older brother Dost Mohammed started the well-known tailoring shop, Smart and Hollywood, on the ground floor of the Esplanade Mansion back in 1942 and had theatre personality Alyque Padamsee, actor Tom Alter and costume designer Abu Jani as their regular clients. After spending decades in a spacious 800 square feet shop, their sons who are now handling the business, have now been forced to move into a much smaller space at Third Pasta Lane in Colaba measuring 120 square feet.

Yusuf's sons, Nafees and Raish Ahmed, started coming to the shop when they were teenagers. They recalled that their father would regularly make costumes that were used in well-known plays like Tarantula Tanzi directed by Padamsee. "All the costumes in Padamsee's plays were made at our shop and our father's name would appear in the pamphlet for the play as well. Apart from getting costumes made, actors like Tom Alter, Farooque Sheikh and Mumtaz used to also get their own clothes stitched here," said Raish.

Nafees and Raish Ahmed at their Colaba store
Nafees and Raish Ahmed at their Colaba store

Their clientele also included the Spencer sisters — Sylla and Nergish, who put together several fashion shows in the 1960s as well as Sabira Merchant who is a trainer for the Miss India pageant. Apart from costumes, Nafees recalled that his father was known for making hats among other props. "He has made hats and even shoes which were part of costumes used in plays. But then the trend changed and we stopped making costumes since theatre companies would have their own tailors," he said.

He added that once they even made a tiger made out of cloth and foam for a film directed by Prakash Jha and had also made the costumes for Jennifer Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor's wife for her film Junoon which was released in 1978. Nafees also recalled that the late actor and MP Sunil Dutt was close friends with his father. "Before Duttji became an actor, he used to live in a room in Esplanade Mansion behind our shop. He and my father would have chai together and even after he became famous, he used to come to visit my father," he said.

The decision to move out of their shop has been an expensive one. "Earlier, we were in the pagdi system and were paying R3000 as rent. But now, we have to shell out R25,000 as rent every month which will increase by 10 per cent every year. Soon, we will have no choice but to increase the rates if we have to survive," said Nafees. Even though they have moved to a new area, Nafees said that all their regular customers continue to come to the new shop.

Nafees said that celebrities like author Shobhaa De and designer Devika Vaid are now their regular clients and they also supply clothes for UK- based brand, Henrietta Bevan. "Our customers are all from Cuffe Parade, Malabar Hill, Napean Sea Road and some from Bandra. We have known generations of the clients' families. While our regular clients will follow us wherever we go, our reputation is linked to the Esplanade Mansion and we hope that we can go back," he said.

Apart from Nafees and Raish, their three cousin brothers are also part owners of the shop. While Nafees and Raish had shifted to the shop in Colaba around 10 months ago, their brothers continued at their older shop. After the court's deadline of May 30, they vacated their shop at Esplanade Mansion on June 3.

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