Bollywood’s love for the ’70s and its style seems to be never-ending. With Om Shanti Om (2007), Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010) and the more recent The Dirty Picture (2011), the loud disco-inspired songs were back, just like the wide collars and bellbottoms.
We expected the attack of the polka dots to continue with Anurag Basu’s Barfi!, which is also set in the ’70s. But we learn that the film and, more specifically, lead actor Ileana D’Cruz’s look, will not follow the done-to-death retro costumes. Costume designer Shefalina Gupta says, “The idea of ’70s fashion is rigid, with big collars, garish prints, tight bellbottoms and, of course, polka dots. Ileana’s character, Shruti, however, is an innocent, sheltered girl from Darjeeling.”
Ileana, of course, is the much-talked-about Bollywood debutant who has made a name for herself in Telugu cinema. The Goan girl, who started out as a model, has over a dozen South Indian films to her credit. And it was the 24-year-old’s body of work that apparently impressed both (producers) Anurag and UTV, who signed her for a three-film deal (she is being considered opposite Shahid Kapoor for the remake of Vettai, a recent Tamil action film).
Barfi! traces the transformation of Ileana’s character from a young girl to an old woman. So, while the first half will have her in dresses and skirts, the second half will see her as a married woman dressed in saris.
“Anurag wanted practical clothes for the character. Since Shruti stays in Darjeeling, she has to look like a small-town girl. So post marriage, she doesn’t wear chiffon, but Dhaka saris,” adds Shefalina.
Co-producer Rucha Pathak adds, “The character was supposed to be inspired by Jaya Bachchan’s look in Mili (1975) and Guddi (1961).” Bachchan’s deglamourised look in these movies was, of course, refreshingly different even for its time. Rucha adds, “Our strategy was not to have the clothes stand out.
Anurag wanted the focus to be on the emotions rather than the fashion.” The film also stars Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.