Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is Bollywood fashion no longer influential?

I just read this really interesting article which reports that designers are saying Hindi films no longer have much of an influence on popular fashion. The masses are no longer shopping for a certain "Madhuri sari" or Madhubala's anarkali kameez because, well, an iconic fashion trend in Bollywood hasn't emerged in so long.

The article blames this lack of influence on the "fading aura" of Bollywood stars as well as audience's exposure to international fashion through other mediums (magazines, Internet, etc.). In my opinion, I think the main reason is a fairly simple one: Bollywood fashion no longer makes a statement. In other words, it's no longer over-the-top, or even gaudy if you will.

A lot of this might have to do with the recent globalization trend in recent films. With a lot of newer Bollywood films taking place in metropolitan areas like New York, London, San Francisco, etc. we are seeing more western fashion than ever. Even films that take place in India (especially youth-oriented ones) show most of their characters wearing western clothes. And who uses Bollywood to inspire their western fashion? I mean, when's the last time you went out looking for Katrina Kaif's denim shorts?

When today's Bollywood films do depict Indian fashion, they fail to make a mark. I think there's a trend towards elegance and simplicity so that when you do see a heroine in a gorgeous sari, it's sheer and simple--not heavily embroidered and flashy. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you're not showcasing anything different or iconic, what are people gonna try to copy? There have been iconic characters in recent Hindi films, but not for their fashion. How would one really dress like Munni?

The article also states that a possible reason for the decline in Bollywood fashion is the fact that Bollywood doesn't have a "superstar" anymore, mostly due to overexposure of celebrities. I think this is completely untrue. Bollywood most definitely still has superstars. As for heroes, veteran actors like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, etc. still have their massive fan followings and so-called "overexposure" through media and sites like Twitter have only added to their popularity.

On the other hand, I think it can be argued that Bollywood doesn't have a female "superstar" right now, but I think this is mainly because of the relatively short shelf-life of Bollywood actresses. Previous superstars like Aishwarya Rai or Rani Mukherji might be considered too old (for the record, I think that's BS) to still be reigning superstars. But promising newcomers like Deepika Padukone or Sonam Kapoor are still too young and fresh to have attained superstar status. So, in terms of a heroine, Bollywood is currently in flux. But hopefully not for long.

The article makes a very valid point about Bollywood's fading place in the fashion scene, but I think the reasons behind this are definitely debatable. What do you think?


  1. Hm, I think Aishu and Rani are still female superstars... Also seen from the point of view of Indians...

    And personally, I do sometimes shop for clothes that resemble film clothes. I'd be so happy if I'd find that top Preity is wearing in "Where's the party tonight", or something from Aisha. I think Aisha was kinda influential on fashion... Or just a little, at least.

  2. The article does cite some movies as recent as 2009 as movies that started some fashion trends. But anything after that doesn't seem to make a fashion splash...KANK was way back in 2006!

    I agree that Aisha had some really good fashion. But I don't think the movie was as popular among Indian audiences. (I liked it, despite its resemblance to Clueless).

    As for the female superstar issue, maybe Aish and Rani are still superstars in their fan presence, but it seems they don't do as many movies now. Especially compared to say SRK or Akki who do multiple films per year.

  3. Yeah, but most of SRKs films are just cameos with 5 minutes screen presence... Ok, I can see your point with KANK, it is almost old now.