The Modi waist coat could face competition from a bespoke Modi sherwani, if the Mehdi brothers who have been tailor to presidents, Bollywood celebs and patrons abroad for decades get approval from the man himself to stitch one.
The tailor duo is confident about measuring up to the Prime Minister’s stature and sartorial taste because their 67-year-old shop near Tasveer Mahal, a now-defunct cinema theatre in Aligarh, where their father Mehdi Hasan set up business in 1947, have been successfully churning out sherwanis for all these years.
Appreciation letters from politicians and celebs on the walls of their shop, which has not changed much expect for a garment outlet added next to it, are reminders of their mastery in the craft.
Elder son of Mehdi Hasan, Anwar Mehdi, at their shop. HT photo/Masdool Hasan
"We want to gift a special sherwani to Modi saheb even if he doesn’t order one," says Anwar Mehdi, the elder of the two. "We are looking for a link to have access to him (Modi) and Insha Allah (if God wills) we will succeed."
But why Modi? The brothers are impressed with Modi’s physique, which they say is ideal for a best-fitting sherwani.
“A sherwani looks good on normal people who are neither fat nor thin, neither tall nor short. Modi saheb’s figure with broad and straight shoulders is perfect in this sense and a sherwani will look wonderful on him,” said younger sibling Akhtar.
The duo said they would also love to stitch a jacket for Modi if he so wishes. “Believe us, that jacket would be better than the ones in which Modi is usually seen,” Akhtar said.
The Aligarh shop’s brush with the who’s who began when Zakir Hussain was vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. “He was so impressed with our father’s skills that he insisted that all his sherwanis would be stitched by him in future. The process continued even after he moved to Delhi to be vice-president and later president. During his 17-year political career, our father stitched as many as 117 sherwanis for him,” Anwar said.
And like they say, Mehedi Hasan’s stature grew with each turn of the bobbin. “Sherwanis of VV Giri, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Gyani Jail Singh, Shankar Dayal Sharma (all former presidents) were stitched by us,” Anwar said, pointing to an appreciation letter from Giri.
“President Pranab Mukherjee too gets his sherwanis stitched at our shop.”
The long list of high-profile patrons includes Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former prime ministers VP Singh and Manmohan Singh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “Gandhi called us to take the measurement at the airstrip during his visit here 7-8 years ago,” Akhtar said.
“ND Tiwari, Mufti M Syeed, Arjun Singh, Madhav Rao Scindia, Kapil Sibal, Justice AM Ahmadi and Justice RK Sharma ... the list goes on,” said Akhtar.
One of their most-recent Bollywood clients was Saif Ali Khan.
Modi is missing from their measurement register. The brothers hope not for long.