Those of us who catch occasional glimpses of the Hindi soaps on TV laugh our heads off at their heroines. After all, they’re dressed like Christmas trees, with full make-up, heavy outfits and what seems like all the jewellery in the world. Never do you see a heroine in casual clothes, or one with minimal makeup, at any time of the day, even as they sleep.
For passionate viewers of these shows, of course, this is how a heroine should look. These shows are style guides: anything new spawns a thousand imitations.
But what’s it like for the actresses behind these bahus? Don’t they get tired of wearing 12-kg saris, a ton of jewellery and 63 layers of makeup all the time? And how do these actresses dress in real life? Five TV bahus spill their personal style secrets.
I’ve spent quite a few years working in daily soaps, such as Balika Vadhu and now Doli Armaano Ki, and I’m comfortable in the heavy attire that I wear for my 12-hour shoot every day. But once I reach home and wear my nightsuit, I’m in heaven!
The thing is, I love sajna-sanwarna in real life too, so I am always dressed to the hilt, especially now that I am married and observe traditions such as Teej and Karva Chauth. But at home, I am not my character, Urmi. At home, I am Neha and my family, my husband and my in-laws also love to see me in my finery.
But I don’t think my fans are disappointed when they see me dressed casually off screen. In fact, when I am dressed in casuals, Patiala kurtis, dresses or shorts and tees, they compliment me.
But I do have a problem with shopping. I don’t get enough time to go and shop for myself as I am always working. Fortunately, I have designers who guide me on the latest trends and styles. I am not public property, but I certainly am someone that people look up to. Since I could be moulding their fashion tastes, I need to be trendy myself! Ek Nayi Pehchaan
The minute I put on those saris or salwar kurtas, I become the character I play. It’s important to ‘feel’ your character when you’re an actor, and the clothes, makeup and jewellery do half the job of getting you there. But wearing those outfits 12 hours a day, every day, month after month, makes me yearn to get home and into my brother’s over-sized T-shirts and my shorts. I am most comfortable in those.
When you are working in a soap, you wear the same set of 10-12 salwar kurtas or saris that are rotated every month, which can be annoying. Most often, you will see us screen bahus wearing the same pattern or print in different colours. In real life, I don’t think anyone buys clothes in bulk in different colours. At least, I don’t!
Off screen, unless I have specifically been asked to attend an event as my TV character, I don’t dress like my character. Viewers can separate the characters from the actors, so I don’t have to pretend to be someone I am not.
Today, style is about retaining your individuality. So I am happiest wearing my favourite long dresses because they are the least demanding. They’re fuss-free. You just have to slip into one and you are ready. And I’m so bored by the makeup I have to wear when we’re shooting that I avoid makeup when I’m home. I wear make-up and have my hair styled only when I’m going out for a party or event.
After all, I’m in a profession where looking presentable hasn’t hurt anyone. I love looking glamorous and sometimes call my hairstylist home to create an elaborate hairdo for me if I am going out.
I am updated about new styles and brands because I can only shop in malls where high-end brands stock the latest trends. Otherwise, there is no time to update myself about what’s new. Given a choice, I would get married in a nice T-shirt and jeans. No lehengas for me! Diya Aur Baati Hum
It is tiring wearing heavy outfits 12 hours a day, especially because the pallu has to be pinned carefully on my head, and managing that gets irritating. But then, I come from a theatre background and wahan pe humein sikhaya jaata hai that your costume, makeup and accessories are all part of the process that enhances your character, so no complaints.
Still, wearing saris day after day can get too much, especially since, off screen, I am a very rough and tough girl. Luckily, since my character is an IPS officer, I get to wear my police uniform as well.At home, I’m a different person. I find cotton the most comfortable fabric, and I love wearing long dresses, maxi gowns – anything
lightweight but elegant. After all that jhagmag on the sets, I look forward to wearing simple clothes. I have always been a tomboy, so dressing up elaborately has never been my style.
I don’t try too hard to be glamorous when I’m off screen. People tell me that in this industry you have to look a certain type to get noticed. But I haven’t met many people who will give me work only on the basis of what I wear. I will do whatever little it takes to look good, but nothing beyond that.
Sometimes I check out new trends on fashion websites. But I buy stuff that suits my body type or personal style. You won’t see me wearing anything I am not comfortable in. Maharana Pratap
For most of my career, I have played bahus wearing saris and heavy jewellery. And now, as Jaywanta Bai in Maharana Pratap, I am in these elaborate costumes for most of the day, It can get very tiring. So when I get home, I immediately get into my pajamas and t-shirts.
Occasionally, I have to go for events where I must dress in character as a promotion for my show. But usually, off screen, I am just Rajshree and then I either dress for an occasion, or wear exactly what I feel like wearing.
When I go shopping, for instance, I love wearing dresses or simple T-shirts and denim. The idea is to get your work done without being recognised. People are shocked to see me in dresses because they find me very tiny compared to how I look on screen!
When you work in serials and are dressed in traditional clothes or salwar kurtas for a long time, it can get nauseating. I am a Maharashtrian, which means I’m supposed to look my traditional best during festivals or pujas and it used take a lot out of me to dress like that. But now, if the occasion demands it, I do wear a sari or a salwar kurta or a dress depending on where I’m going.
I am not into trends and styles. I would rather go with my mood and my comfort level. I am not very concerned about my screen image because I have learnt to keep the reel and real apart. So it’s not as if I am desperately seeking to break free by being outrageously glamorous.
When I am not shooting, I am not any character. I think and dress up or down like Rajshree. I am my own person and I like it that way. Balika Vadhu
I prefer lehenga-cholis to saris. Saris require a lot of work to carry off. But what’s more irritating than saris is the jewellery, especially in the rainy and hot seasons when we are shooting outdoors. Just recently, we had to shoot at a nearby set and it was raining. Holding up the lehenga without getting drenched and dirty was quite a task!
Sometimes, I wish we dressed naturally. I mean, why should we dress up just to go to sleep? But now, I am used to it. At home, I am in my pajamas and T-shirts and when I go out, I’m in denim and T-shirts.
I don’t like dressing up. I am a homebody. I am not into parties and social events. If I do go out for lunch or with friends, I tie my hair into a loose bun and wear my glasses. I just go unnoticed.
I remember as a child, when we went for family functions or shaadis, I never saw my mother fussing over how she looked. And that’s how I am too. I am married, and when my husband and I have to go out, we panic because then we have to decide what to wear!
I am not very fashion-conscious but I know what will look good on me. For instance, I can’t carry off hot pants, so why bother? I dress according to my personality, not to impress anyone. And given a choice, I would always dress simply.
From HT Brunch, November 2
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