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Dressed to kill

Aki Narula tells MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER that he cut up ten shawls and two durries for Amitabh Bachchan’s coat in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom



Story teller The Big B plays a wandering raconteur in the film and the clothes complement his character

Clothes maketh the man, woman and the movie. Fashion has been an intrinsic part of films from forever. Uma Thurman’s crisp white shirt and black cigarette pants in “Pulp Fiction” made a breath-taking style statement on celluloid. Bo llywood also has been a pretty strong style barometer from Sadhana’s hair to Kareena’s Barbie doll look, fashion has rapidly transcended the screen to hit the street.

Bollywood has many top of the line designers and Aki Narula is one of those whose outfits manage to hold their own in the loudest and most kitschy mainstream palate – think Shah Rukh Khan’s ties in “Don”. Aki who has styled for Shaad Ali’s “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” says: “This is my second film with Shaad after “Bunty aur Babli”. The script is amazing. It is all about energy. I have pushed the envelope and followed an explosion of colour. The film is character driven and I have given different looks to each character.”

For Abhishek Bachchan, who plays Rikki Thukral in the film, Aki has given him a “sportswear meets bling look. Bobby Deol plays a successful lawyer, Steve, who is half British and half Punjabi. For Bobby the look is inspired by John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”.

And tell him you cannot imagine a lawyer dressed like Travolta and Aki shoots back: “Don’t lawyers party?”


The ladies, Lara Dutta and Priety Zinta, have contrasting looks. “Lara’s character is half British and half Pakistani. She is a manager at the Ritz so her look is very chic and understated. Priety plays Alvira Khan from Lahore. She is more British that the Queen! Her look is street chic.”

And then there is Amitabh Bachchan whose look at first glance reminds you Captain Jack Sparrow in “The Pirates of Caribbean”.

Aki is quick to correct you. “No, it is not the Jack Sparrow look. In the film his character is a wandering story teller. For his jacket I cut up ten shawls and two durries for his jacket. Mr. Bachchan was so pleased with it that he bought his own boots that he had worn in “Shahenshah” for the movie.”

Ask Aki why cut up so many shawls for a jacket and he says “because I wanted to.” Obviously the green mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle does not cut any ice with the designer.

Aki belongs to a growing tribe of designers who enjoy styling for films. “I love the process of filmmaking and have not faced any problems. I have worked with all the big banners and things are very professional now. I get the script in advance. Filmmaking is a collective process and if I have a suggestion to make, it is always taken in the right spirit.”

While Aki admits to the importance of fashion in film, he says clothes should contribute to the film.

“We are not making a film about clothes. Fashion should contribute to the script. Like Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” contributed to the character she was playing in the movie and that is why the look clicked and the dress has become iconic.”

Aki who has a busy life designing for film and the ramp – his next film is another for the Yash Raj banner, “Tashan”, says he does not want to choose one over the other.

“Why should I? I manage to create the time to do both. I am having too much of a blast.”

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