'Madhuri has never looked so enthralling'
Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla weave designer ensembles in Devdas
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla
When Sanjay Leela Bhansali approached us to dress the pivotal characters of Devdas, we let our creativity rule.
We appreciate the carte blanche Sanjay gave us when it came to designing for Devdas. We have the greatest admiration for his eye for detail and regard him as filmmaker par excellence.
The 1930s and 1940s, old reference pictures, Bengali culture, traditional wear and a bit of research into the dress patterns of the time, together with our imagination and vision for each character --- this was the concept behind the Devdas creations.
The look of the 'just-returned-from-Oxford' Devdas was achieved by sourcing vintage suits from old clothing stores in London and modifying the same to Shah Rukh Khan's size. His cravat, handkerchief, shoes all contribute to the English look of the time.
Devdas, 'the alcoholic' was always dressed in off white, white or beige. Crisp Bengali dhotis teamed with angavastras [long piece of cloth draped around the shoulders]; beautiful, detailed chikan [traditional hand embroidery of Lucknow] kurtas; a shorter haircut giving him a nonchalant, tousled appearance and minimal ornaments captured his look of the transformed rebel and dejected lover.
Shah Rukh wanted to wear black, while we believed that Devdas was simply hurt in love and took it badly --- we persisted with white as his look.
It was fun designing for Jackie Shroff, who played Chunnilal. Our idea was to give him the pizzazz, confidence and flamboyance through his garb. He was always dressed stylishly --- an open-collared sherwani over embroidered kurtas and crisp dhotis. A lot of detail went into his accessories like rings and buttons.
The biggest challenge was, we had to avoid having the ensembles look fresh and unworn. This was achieved by selective washing.
Chandramukhi, the courtesan [played by Madhuri Dixit], was draped in rich vibrant hues. We dressed Madhuri in exquisite Benaras saris, brocades and silks. Kurtas teamed with beautiful transparent dupattas and embroidered blouses were inspired by the 1930s and 1940s.
Chandramukhi at home was always shown in fine mulmul [fine, soft muslin] skirts and cotton skirts with gota work and ghungroos teamed with small embroidered cholis.
We were keen to shooting Madhuri in real jewellery, but abandoned the idea because of security hazards due to the long shooting. Instead, we settled for something that was as close to the real things as possible with gold and jadau.
Chandramukhi was a devotee of Devdas, like Meera was a devotee of Lord Krishna. Madhuri has never looked more enthrallingly beautiful than as the devoted but unfulfilled courtesan.
As told to Aseem Hattangady