After Hrithik Roshan in Krrish (2006), John Abraham in Water (2005), Aamir Khan in Mangal Pandey (2005) and Lagaan (2001), Abhishek Bachchan will be seen wearing a dhoti in his forthcoming film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se.
From Manoj Kumar to Shah Rukh Khan in their respective versions of Devdaas, a lot of Bollywood actors have romanticised the silhouette on screen. But different fashion designers have their own favourites, based on how the dhoti-clad celebrities have looked in the ancient Indian drape.
Fashion designer Babita Malkani says, “In recent times, Aamir Khan in Lagaan and Shah Rukh Khan in Devdaas brought back the trend of dhotis with the young generation who now wear them for weddings and other auspicious occasions. The trend mellowed down around 1975, but returned with a bang around 1982 with films like Ishwar, Woh Saat Din and Virasat.”Through films, not just in India, the garment seems to have appealed to international shores as well. "Sir Ben Kingsley wore a sparkling white dhoti for his role as Mahatma Gandhi in the film Gandhi (1982). The film went on to become an international hit and established the magic that the traditional garment can weave magic on the silver screen," says designer Bennu Sehgal.
Talking about how the style of draping the dhoti has changed over time, Malkani adds, “Today the size and pattern of wearing a dhoti differs from what it was in the past. It has graduated to a completely new level of fusion, giving us the ‘contemporary dhoti’.”
According to designer Archana Kochchar, the best dhoti-clad star is Madhuri Dixit in the song Dhak Dhak from the film Beta (1992) and Shah Rukh Khan from Asoka (2001): “The drape is up to the wearer’s wish. One modern method can involve teaming a dhoti with a black or golden border with an Italian cut tuxedo. People can team it with a big dial branded watch or gelled hair also.”
Designer AD Singh, whose favourite dhoti clad celebrity is Amitabh Bachchan from Lal Badshah (1999) gives a tip, “Ensure the curls and cowl fall gracefully while wearing a dhoti.”
Speaking for his partner also, Nikhil Mehra of the duo designer team Shantanu & Nikhil says, “Our favourite is Aamir Khan from Mangal Pandey. His sheer power with a bare chest and a strong color pallet of red on the forehead with a white dhoti has to be a picture to remember.”
How to wear a dhoti
Separate the Dhotis into two equal parts 3/4th and 1/4th. The longer part should be to your left.
Wrap it around so that you can bring the two sides together in front to tie a knot just below the waist.
Take the part on your right, gather it, pull it between your legs and tuck it at the back.
Pleat the remaining length of the dhoti like a sari and tuck it into the waistband and let the bottom part hang.
The most fashionable way is typically in the form of dhoti pants.
But it has influenced several other modern silhouettes such as carrot pants, harem pants, zovave and jodhpur pants.
Stylise the Dhoti
On ramps, men wear dhotis with pockets and team it up with shirts and jackets, it can be draped differently giving it a whole new contemporary look.
Dhotis can be worn with kurta and dupattas adding to the urban look. A heavily embellished kurta with a fashionable dhoti adds volumes to the combination.
Women can completely convert dhotis into a tube dress or a saree drape and still make it look like a dhoti. Both men and woman can accessorize the look with scarf’s and Indian junk jewellery adding to the fusion look.