Bollywood is known not just for their dramatic love stories and amazing song and dance, they are also well-known for making some of the grandest sets made sans CGI. When we think of traditional Indian costumes, we think intricate beading, elaborate embroidery and vibrant fabrics paired with incredible gold jewellery fit for royalty. These costumes are often handmade and weigh a ton (literally). Amazingly, these actors would dance in these costumes (some as heavy as 30kg or more) for hours.
In lieu of Deepavali, we are showing you the most extravagant, jaw-dropping costumes that has ever graced the Bollywood screens and revel in the beauty that is Indian cinema. Prepare for some of the most intricate lahengas (a style of sari) that you’ve ever laid eyes on.
1. Jodhaa Akhbar
When it comes to grand sets and even grander costumes, period dramas are the genre to look for. Bollywood makes it a point to create a visual spectacle out of historical dramas, recreating old buildings and replicating the clothes worn in that era. No expense was spared in the making of Jodhaa Akhbar, a historical movie made in 2008. It’s set in 16th-century India and is about the love story between Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar (Hrithik Roshan), the Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, and Rajput princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai).
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First of all, casting two of the most stunning humans on the face of this planet as an emperor and princess was one of the best moves anyone has made in Bollywood. Aishwarya and Hrithik looked every bit like royalty. Of course, the costumes added to the atmosphere. In particular, the jewellery. They went as far as moulding 400 kg of gold and semi-precious stones to recreate the actual jewellery worn by Princess Jodha. Talk about dedication! Some of the necklaces worn by Aishwarya literally left us speechless.
2. Bajirao Mastani
Honestly, even if you aren’t a fan of Bollywood, you will be still be left mesmerized by the song above called “Deewani Mastani” from the movie, Bajirao Mastani that stars Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh. The massive set is dripping in gold with mirrors reflecting every corner to depict Mughal-E-Azam’s Aaina Mahal (mirror palace). Just when we thought it can’t get any majestic , the golden gates parted and curtains lifted to reveal Deepika in the most stunning golden dress, looking more exquisite than ever.
That pale gold dress was an original by Anju Modi, who designed several other costumes in the movie. It later became the most sought after dress in India and we aren’t surprised at all. From the modest silhouette to the complex gold embroidery at the hem, you’ll be surprised to find out that the bottoms are actually pants that are made to look as flowy as a lahenga skirt. Deepika plays a Rajput princess who falls in love and has an affair with Warrior-turned-Prime-Minister Bajirao. A classic love triangle story that never gets old.
3. Bombay Velvet
We are taking a step back from the traditional costumes and instead going to the glitz and glamour of the flapper era, where Jazz singers were queens. Bombay Velvet stars Anushka Sharma who plays an aspiring jazz singer and Ranbir Kapoor, a thug who falls in love with her. Their turbulent love story is glossed over with the glamour of 1960s Bombay. We are talking beaded gowns with sweeping trains, intricate headpieces, gloves and whole lot of bling. Every costume is a feast for the eyes, especially the sequinned gown above worn by Anushka in a killer combination of emerald green and gold. The gown itself weighed 35kg, imagine putting that on!
Another one that we love is this peacock number worn by one of the jazz singers in the movie. Actress, Niharika Raveena was transformed into a gorgeous peacock in a royal purple embellished gown. Each individual peacock feather is hand sewn to create that magnificent train. And we can’t forget the headpiece which is the cherry on top on this knockout outfit.
It would’ve been some kind of blasphemy if we did not include the epic tale of Devdas. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for sparring no cost to create the ultimate escape for his audience and Devdas was a true masterpiece in that regard. There were so many epic costumes to choose from this movie, but Chandramukhi’s (Madhuri Dixit) appearance in a show-stopping red and gold lahenga has to be one of our favourites. Playing an olden day courtesan, the costume designers wanted to emphasise her beauty and grace rather than an overtly sexy attire. The red lahenga weighed a whopping 30kg, and that is without the jewellery that actress Madhuri has on her. Can you imagine spinning and dancing in that? The skirt is hand embroidered with actual gold threads and then hand beaded. The details are just insane. What’s more, Madhuri was actually pregnant whilst filming this scene!
We can’t resist including this stunning mirrored lahenga as well. From the soft champagne gold fabric to the use of mirrors to create patterns that reflect and catch the light, it’s an outfit that’s fit for a princess. We highly recommend watching Devdas for not just the heartbreaking storyline, but also to escape into this exotic world of extravagant costumes and be transported to a different place.
5. Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Basically, you’ll notice a trend here. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for elaborate movies every made, costumes included. Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela is a semi-modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. Thanks to its modernity, the outfits showcased in this film are the most wearable in our list. However, that doesn’t take away the grandeur of each outfit. The film is characterised by vibrant and saturated colours and the clothes follow a similar theme. Deepika’s lahengas are not only beaded to perfection, the fabrics used are rich in colour and the designer loves playing with contrast to make the patterns pop.
You probably wouldn’t notice this because Deepika is such a trooper and a great dancer. The red and gold ghagra that she has on in this dance number is not only breathtaking but also weighs 30kg! It’s crazy how she made it look featherlight! The weight comes from the heavy gold embroidery on her choli top and the many layers of fabric that make her skirt flare so beautifully, especially when she spins and dances. Would you wear 30kg worth of fabric this Deepavali? If we can look half as gorgeous Deepika, count us in!
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