The gamcha gang of Bollywood

Aug 22, 2012, 10:25 IST | Sujata Chakrabarti

So you thought that Salman made the gamcha a part of popular culture? Read on to trace the trend humble rise to fame

What started off as a mere utilitarian object, used for obvious purposes, the gamcha has now become one of the most iconic accessories in Bollywood. While Govinda frolicked on the screen with a gamcha casually thrown around his neck in several of his films, Amitabh Bachchan exuded some serious rustic charm through his own set in Bunty Aur Babli. And now Salman Khan has sparked off a major trend among Mumbaikars, who have been spotted wearing similar versions of the houndstooth patterned gamcha he sports in Ek Tha Tiger.

Salman Khan
A still from Ek Tha Tiger

The ubiquitous gamcha has even travelled abroad. Well you could say, Anurag Kashyap has single-handedly championed the cause of this bolt of fabric. Among the coutured glitterati at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, there was no missing the filmmaker and his ‘gang’ of actors sporting the gamcha before the screening of Gangs of Wasseypur. As the shutterbugs went into an overdrive trying to comprehend this ‘new-found’ fashion accessory, the gamcha seemed to be basking in the glow, resting smugly atop Anurag’s Dior tuxedo. Well you could say, the Gamcha had arrived!

Anurag Kashyap and Huma Qureshi
Anurag Kashyap and Huma Qureshi at Cannes

If luxury label Hermes lays its claim to making some of the finest scarves in the world, the Indian gamcha isn’t far behind. While the Hermes scarf lives across generations taking a family heirloom status, the gamcha too exchanges hands as many times! Daddy dearest uses it in the bath, mummy tucks it into the waistband of her saree in the kitchen, Sonu-Monu play tug of war with it, and Kanta ben dusts your expensive sofa all with similar versions of the standard red gamcha!

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan in Bunty Aur Babli

Sallu’s black and white houndstooth scarf/keffiah is perhaps just a distant cousin of the red gamcha, albeit a few shades more sophisticated in appearance. Akshay Kumar wore the gamcha as headgear in Tashan. The scarf/stole that has essentially been associated as a woman’s accessory channelised Aamir Khan’s macho appeal in Ghajini. With fashion trends fading away at the pace of colour draining from autumnal leaves, we can’t guarantee if the houndstooth gamcha is here to stay. But for now, say aye and grab one with both your hands!

Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar in Tashan

The history of the houndstooth
Incidentally, the houndstooth pattern that is said to have originated in Scotland did not consistently find favour with the fashion industry. The houndstooth was finally recognised as a strong style statement by Coco Chanel, who single-handedly redefined woman’s fashion.

Sonam Kapoor
Sonam Kapoor in a houndstooth patterned dress

In fact, a glimpse at the brief history of the motif indicates that it was only in the later part of the last decade that houndstooth found prominence among global luxury brands such as Moschino, Armani and Louis Vuitton. Closer home, Bollywood fashionistas like Sonam Kapoor have embraced the trend with open arms.

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