Textual content by Nandini Khetan. Illustration by Aishwaryshree
The second the information a few TV adaptation of Vikram Seth’s much-applauded and relished novel A Appropriate Boy buzzed by means of social media, I fished out my copy to revisit the characters. Quick-forward to the discharge of the six-episode miniseries that aired this October in India, and I used to be taken in by the portrayal of every character – from their personas to their on-point characterisations and, most significantly, the magnificent costumes – it was a power-packed watch.
Whereas many praised director Mira Nair’s top-notch actors, I’m nonetheless considering the aesthetically pleasing sartorial panorama conceptualised by costume designer and business veteran Arjun Bhasin. He delved into the work of Mark Rothko and Amrita Sher-Gil for inspiration and created a post-Independence wardrobe for the solid of this story about 4 elite Indian households and one mom’s decided quest to marry off her youthful daughter.
The primary episode unfolds on-screen with girls clad in vibrant saris and males in delicate, uncooked silk sherwanis on the conventional wedding ceremony of the feminine lead Lata Mehra’s (Tanya Maniktala) sister, Savita Kapoor (Rasika Dugal). The bride is adorned in an ivory-and-red brocade sari and delicate gold jewelry. It’s a sleek and poised look that displays her character whereas Lata’s sari is a shiny shade of purple, a complement to her pure magnificence and charmingly effervescent character. The 19-year-old’s wardrobe displays the standard younger North Indian girl of her milieu within the ’50s: mismatched cotton salwar-kurtas with three-quarter sleeves and a dupatta, accessorised with a watch and nostril pin, typically a skinny belt, and hair tied right into a braid. It’s a modest look as she talks about being a girl of the twentieth century, captivated by poetry, literature and the dreamy college man Kabir Durrani (Danesh Razvi). Kabir’s fashion, in distinction, is slightly Western and progressive, very similar to his outlook. Free-fitting silhouettes, high-waisted pants with sneakers, muted color palettes and stoles wrapped round ethereal linen shirts. He rides round city on his bicycle as their love story unfurls, and Lata’s newfound, post-romance class sees her outfitted in mulmul, organza, Maheshwari silk and crepe de Chine saris. Floral prints, cap-sleeved and sleeveless blouses in colors like sage inexperienced, powder blue, butter and maize yellow additionally make an look. She sleeps in a Victorian-inspired lace nightdress, and there are glimpses of Maharani Gayatri Devi in her chiffon saris and sweetheart neckline blouses. And I appreciated how Bhasin’s textiles decisions are sometimes a juxtaposition of historic references, just like the South Indian silk and brocade materials used for the Edwardian costumes in Lata’s college’s efficiency of a Shakespeare play.
Her subsequent love curiosity, poet Amit Chatterji (Mikhail Sen), has a British-influenced wardrobe that includes cravats, plaid materials and rich-looking fits in contemporary hues like salmon pink and mint inexperienced in addition to darker tones. He’s additionally seen within the Bengali male wardrobe important – a cotton kurta with relaxed pants, apt for his occupation. The third “appropriate boy” in Lata’s life is shoe producer Haresh Khanna (Namit Das), chosen by her mom for his formidable and easy character. He walks proudly in his two-toned brogues and textured tan three-piece fits with striped shirts and printed ties, a briefcase by his facet.
The story highlights one other burgeoning, albeit sophisticated relationship between Maan Kapoor (Ishaan Khatter), the son of a politician, and the Muslim courtesan Saeeda Bai (Tabu). However I’m not right here to provide spoilers as to their destiny; I can as a substitute converse concerning the depth of their personalities, which is emphasised by means of Bhasin’s costume design. There are delicate shifts from one episode to a different; Maan strikes from striped and printed waistcoats paired with kurtas to sheer bandhgalas and collarless U-neck kurtas in muted tones, a vest seen beneath and an intricately embroidered or stable scarf draped casually round his chest and shoulders, his tousled curls matching his carefree character. His older lover hides her enigmatic persona below layers of beautiful material as Bhasin works his magic, giving us solely a glimpse of the actual Begum Akhtar, whilst she first bedazzles the gang whereas singing soulfully in a blood-red sari with crushed metalwork and matching shirt, and a gold jhumar passa (hair jewelry) pinned onto a braided hairdo that’s half-covered with the pallu. She continues to take centre stage in placing colors and silhouettes – magenta and emerald-green, anarkalis and ghararas. With a gajra or rose positioned in her hair, she enraptures viewers along with her kohl-rimmed eyes, daring pink lips and tinkling jhumkas. As her character softens whereas falling deeply for her Daag Sahib (as she calls Maan), so does her color palette, from shiny to toned-down; and selection of materials, from closely embellished to breezy and lightweight.
Probably the most placing character, for me, is Meenakshi Mehra (Shahana Goswami), Lata’s unapologetic sister-in-law. Her trend decisions are equally daring, from low-cut blouses and cigarette pants below gauzy saris. Bhasin additionally clothes her in georgette, chiffon and tant saris (conventional Bengali handwoven cotton sari) with shankha pola (conch shell and coral bangles) to spotlight her Bengali roots. Meenakshi’s risqué and “if you happen to’ve acquired it, flaunt it” perspective aligns along with her glamorous, Westernised ensembles and crescendoes when she instructions a room with spectacular tango strikes, capped off by a daring wine lip and quick hair pinned up at one facet.
This sequence serves as an archive of a selected post-partition Indian wardrobe, the place textiles, colors and textures are matched for the proper marriage.