"Being half Bengali, Abhishek (Bachchan) was most comfortable with the dhoti. Not only did he drape it himself, but he also performed perfectly in it,” says director Ashutosh Gowariker, whose period film Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se is due for release on December 3.
Junior Bachchan will be seen playing the role of revolutionary freedom fighter Surjya Sen, who along with 64 people triggered the Chittagong uprising, bringing an end to one year of Gandhi’s non-violent movement against the British.
According to Gowariker, the actor loves wearing the dhoti the traditional way. Bachchan had earlier tweeted, “Shooting a gun fight scene. Done this many times, but never in the 1930s. Quite the experience! The sets, my outfits, they all just seem so different and beautiful!”
As for the rest of the ‘denim-clad generation’ that the film stars, says Gowarikar, “I had to hold a one-week orientation on location to get them comfortable in the dhoti. Nowadays teenagers don’t even wear dhotis for religious occasions, so it was important to get them acquainted with the movement in that garment… like walking or sitting down. Otherwise their discomfort would have translated on to the screen.”
Of the many tips given to the cast, the main one that they needed to keep in mind was not to be conscious of performing in a dhoti. The others required them to come to terms with the fact that wind stands a chance of blowing open the fold in the garment, exposing more than necessary, and while sitting the dhoti may come slightly apart.
“Though dhotis are traditionally worn very close to touching the ground, the dancing and action sequences required them to tie them a little higher than usual,” says Gowariker, who in most of his films, invariably gets his lead actors to slip into this garment, including, Aamir Khan in Lagaan and Shah Rukh Khan in Swades.