This appeared in Bombay Times on Monday.
With fashion and more fashion coming out of everybody’s ears… and more fashion weeks ( ooooof! Add to that jewellry weeks) being celebrated across India than all the religious festivals put together, it’s a wonder fashion fatigue of the extreme kind hasn’t set in and crippled the diehards so far. But the answer to a key question still remains : How does one tell a fashion icon from a fashion victim? These days every second starlet who can afford a pricey foreign frock or the latest ‘it’ bag, stakes a claim to that dodgy title. And , of course, lazy bums that we are in the media, we willingly go along and fall for the hard sell. You know what they say – repeat something often enough, and the gullible start to believe it’s the gospel! Bollywood of old truly threw up its own divas and icons without the help of smart P.R. and other minders \ spin doctors who manufacture images for a fat fee these days. Nargis, The Lady in White comes to mind. Or even an adorable sex kitten called Mumtaz ( whose daughter Natasha is married to Fardeen Khan). There were several others who inspired two generations of Indian women with their very distinct style statements. Today, the ball game has changed to an extent that any skinny wannabe with a stylist at her beck and call can happily and rather grandly call herself a style icon without blushing.
The international definition is vastly different. If Posh Beckham is hailed for her worldwide appeal, it is because she created a whole different look that was widely imitated by thousands of women who wanted to clone her style. Ditto for Paris Hilton. While in Hollywood, check out Jennifer Aniston and her uber cool quotient. These women look like themselves and don’t follow fashion diktats. Sure, they may have their favourite designers, but when they put themselves together they do so with aplomb and individuality. Here, we foolishly crown someone a style icon because she has the dosh to travel and buy couture from the latest international collections. Or, she is slim enough to get into impossibly fitted LBDs given to her by her personal stylist. Never mind that the effect is just so ‘catalogue’. That goes for a lot of our truly bizzaro socialites who preen away in fashion glossies and talk glibly about their latest acquisitions not realizing how silly they look and sound. A true fashionista doesn’t need labels to define her identity – she defines the labels with her personality. If you ask me, the one Bollywood gal who is on the button most of the time is Kangana Ranaut. Here is a real fashion success – a small town girl who has made good in a remarkably short period of time, and established her own sense of style that has nothing to do with someone else’s yardstick of what’s fashionable. There is an edginess to her that makes her an attractive clothes horse, whether draped in a net saree or a red carpet gown. One just gets the feeling she is doing it her way – and doing it well. The others who are trying a bit too hard for that elusive title, should take a tip or two from this girl.
Strange how we make our movie choices – I don’t feel like watching ‘Lafangey Parinday’ because I don’t like the title. The film has received mixed reviews ( more on that subject in a bit), but somehow, I feel like I’m done with the synthetic tapori talk and the ghasa peeta genre that tries and fails to capture the ambience of a Mumbai chawl. Neil Mukesh, with his skin tone and features playing a gangster’s lackey called One Shot Nandu ? No chance. Deepika, a Maharashtrian mulgi? Ummmm… maybe. But since most reviewers believe it’s their duty to reveal the entire story ( like the lengthy blurb on a DVD cover), even the surprise element is gone. That did it for me. That was also one of the reasons why I didn’t watch ‘Aisha’ ( there was nothing left to figure out after reading those ‘reviews’). But I do intend catching this one ( even if it is likely to ruin both, ‘Clueless’ and ‘Emma’ forever), to check out newbie Amrita Puri’s performance. She has been getting raves and most agree she is the sole saving grace of the film…. even if she disappears mysteriously in the second half… and without her sparkling presence, the movie loses its charm.
I watched a recent Marathi film titled, 'Zenda' ( minus sub- titles), and was totally blown away by its extraordinarily bold content. It is unambiguously about the Thackeray family - they are all there - Balasaheb, Raj and Uddhav - projected brutally and fearlessly by the film makers. There is nothing that isn't stated about the family rift and its ramifications. It shows Maharashtra politics and politicians in a way that is shocking and raw - strictly no filters. The goondagiri, threats, venality, corruption and compromises. That theatres weren't burnt down or pelted with stones when the film was playing commercially, is a wonder. It deserves a much wider audience. It is such an eye opener... and the performances were consistently competent. Perhaps, for once the Thackerays are on the right track when they are demanding prime time slots at multiplexes for Marathi movies. Why not start with 'Zenda' ???