>> Aug 29, 2016
If one were to examine the history of Indian fashion trends, one would discover that most of them have their genesis in Hindi film industry. The start was made in the decade of the 60s with pairs that dazzled on the silver screen like Madhubala and Dilip Kumar, Mala Sinha and Rajendra Kumar, Meena Kumari and Raj Kumar, not to forget Nargis and Raj Kapoor, and has continued to this very day with the likes of Alia Bhatt and Sahid Kapoor, and Katrina Kaif and Siddharth Kapoor. All these big names and many more trendsetters have played very important roles in setting fashion benchmarks that have been adopted and followed by generations of fashion-conscious females in India.
The Beginning of the Fashion Obsession
It perhaps all started with the iconic pair of Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Ironically, they were more recognized for their tragic character portrayals than for their fashion sense. However, the public’s hearts were won over by Madhubala with her winsome looks and fetching smile. Small wonder that the ladies of that generation were heavily influenced by her beautiful sarees, and also later came under the sway of Mala Sinha’s body-hugging churidars and kurtas, not to speak of her ‘bird’s nest’ type of ornate wigs. Then there was Sharmila Tagore, the quintessential Bengali beauty, who made men’s hearts beat faster with her seductive backless cholis.
In the decade of the 70s, the silver screen was set aflame by Hema Malini, truly a dream girl if there was one in the Indian film industry. She sported the most glamorous looks with her designer sarees with the alluring blouse neck designs that created a sensation. On the other hand, Meena Kumari’s simple appearance that was a personification of serenity, though much appreciated, never had the ladies in frenzy for obvious reasons. Another tragedy queen, Nargis, however, created quite an impact with the ladies of that era with her flowing white sarees and salwar-kameez with an umbrella cut.
The Dare to Bare Attitude
For those who are inclined to think that the early days of Indian color cinema were dominated by fashion trends that were wholly ethnic, it will come as a surprise that it was as early as the 60s that leading ladies like Nutan and Tanuja shed their inhibitions and their clothes to don swimming costumes for the first time ever in the history of Indian cinema. After these two, Sharmila Tagore and Saira Banu continued the trend with their shiny one-piece swimming costumes that had the eyes of scandalized audience riveted. Sharmila went a step further by wearing a polka dot bikini in the movie ’Amne Samne’. One cannot, of course, really say that the swimming costumes sparked off any fashion trends in Indian society, but what it did was to bring them out of the closet and open it up for discussion, which in itself was a very bold step for the time not so much for the dress itself but for the morality involved.
What cannot be ignored was the fact that even the male leads of the times like Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Biswajit and the Mukeherjees, Joy and Deb were not far behind in going topless. While they donned swimming costumes in an effort to blend into the screenplay, our very own macho man Salman Khan apparently needs no excuse to rip his shirt off and display his awesome muscles. Leading ladies of today performing item numbers have also almost erased the contribution to the fashion industry of screen vamps like Helen, Bindu, Jayshee T, Padma Khanna, etc. Sadly, there is almost none today that is really challenging the fashion industry quite like the stars of yesteryears. Of course, even today the actors are very well-dressed thanks to the efforts of the fashion designers who are very much clued into international fashion designs but fashion trends, on the whole, are far more transient than before.
Author bio: Monica Fernandez is a fashion designer who has been dressing up quite a few of the top stars of Bollywood. She has recently unveiled a new line of ethnic wear with extremely bold blouse neck designs that has received critical acclaim.