The clotheshorses of Bollywood

Sunday, 2 March 2014 - 9:00am IST | Agency: dna

Fashion is becoming an obsession in Bollywood. Who are the best clothes hangers out there? Sheela Adige checks out the catwalk

Models can't 'act' is one of Bollywood's many clich├ęs that have been squarely busted. But what of actresses who go in the reverse direction: who start obsessing with fashion after they become stars? Whether it is an inevitable fallout of being photographed 24/7 or the result of having the moolah to indulge in gasp-inducing shopping binges ("I went wild in Milan!"), style smarts are now near-mandatory in B-Town. What's more, it's de rigueur at fashion weeks in India to have a Bollywood star as their show stopper.

Is that why fashion is now becoming the buzzword in Bollywood? B-town observers discern more. The reasons are manifold: The paps need non-stop pics. There are endless parties to pose at. And last but not the least, there are movie promotions where you have to outdo the other heroines.

Besides, the fashion police are waiting to pounce on the smallest slip-up ("That fuchsia frilly top with taupe pencil pants— what was she thinking?"). If you don't wow the cameras with the perfectly fitting, flattering and, of course, expensive label, you might as well stay home — or face the consequences.

Thus it is that Sonam Kapoor's clothes (and not always her films) get her to Cannes, where she's photographed to exhaustion. And thus it is that Vidya Balan gets grilled about her repetitive wardrobe at the festival though few care to ask her about her jury responsibilities, which is what she went to Cannes for, remember?

It's tempting to ask: Are an actor's fashion smarts in inverse proportion to their acting skills?

Sonam, for instance, is a natural-born fashionista who doesn't merely splurge on clothes with six- and seven-figure price tags. She has a sense of fashion history, she collects vintage outfits and accessories, she understands fabrics and cuts. She experiments but not too wildly, she can rock pretty much any outfit. And let's just say she's working hard on her acting career. On the other hand, Vidya's fashion hiccups are legendary, but hey, she just might have more awards in her cupboard than designer outfits.

Similarly, two of our best actresses, Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi, fare slightly better on the fashion scale and have been known to wear the occasional horrendous outfit, but they aren't badgered the way Vidya is because of their, ahem, seniority.

The younger stars are not that lucky. Fans who imitate stars who act in films that imitate life, are clear that their muses have to get it right. Which is how some actors, if they aren't born with a fashion sense, learn to acquire it. Like Kangana Ranaut did. She admits she has pored over fashion magazines, attended fashion shows here and abroad, done her homework. And she's hit the best-dressed lists.And there will invariably be a story about how a small-town Himachal girl has made it to their hallowed list.

It helps that Kangana is blessed with a curvy-slim figure, which makes her a fabulous clotheshorse. Who else could have carried off that bodysuit and hairdo that she killed in Krissh 3? Has Kangana worked as hard on her acting? It's a moot point, given that most of her best performances (Gangster, Woh Lamhe, Life in a Metro, Fashion) came before her fashion transformation.

Ditto for Kareena Kapoor whose acting graph seems to have become shaky post her Size Zero and fashion obsession turned her into a pouting fashionista.

However, Priyanka Chopra is the gal who bucks this trend; she's managed to up both her acting and style quotient consistently. She's moved from a bling desi style to a sleek designer silhouette (Desi Girl) to LBD and bandage dress chic and now, an edgy (Exotic) international look. She's going all out with her clothes and hair and keeping the accessories muted— and she's looking sensational. She's collecting the awards too, and who will deny that Barfi saw her best performance ever?

And now for the men...
the same pattern all over again. Ranbir Kapoor has three very basic styles — tee and jeans, track pants and hoodies, or a tux. He has his priorities right: he's focusing on his acting and his love life.

At the other end of the scale is Arjun Rampal, the ultimate clotheshorse, who looks uber-cool no matter what he wears. Hyperactive stud Ranveer Singh is one guy who seems to have it all. So he's got the girls and the films, and he's got to be the most stylishly adventurous actor in B-town. All-over-print suits, hoodies, desi threads, bandanas, ponytails and moustaches… he can carry anything off with his hi-energy attitude. And he can rock a tux too.

John Abraham is undeniably the smartest hunk in town; the ex-model who's got on to the best-dressed lists by refusing to dress up. He goes everywhere in his stock white shirt and jeans, most often teamed with sandals or chappals and he looks sexy as hell. He's clean-shaven only for a shaving commercial. He wears a suit or a tux once in a while but he doesn't look half as comfortable or sexy in them as he did in his micro swimming trunks in Dostana. Did anyone mention acting? But who needs that when your butt looks so good?

That goes for the women too. It's easier to stay in the news the fashionista way. Why slave over that script when you can get all the coverage and goodies the designer way? And best of all, once you hit the high spots, you won't even need to pay for most of your clothes. It's win-win, baby.

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