Vidya Balan’s love for saris is well known. The actor has played a major role in resurrecting our love for the garment all over the country, along with making it stylish and sexy. From Kanjeevaram to brocade and chanderi, she wears various weaves on and off screen. We speak to Vidya about her passion for the sari and how it became her look.
Who is the ideal woman in a sari, on and off screen?
You’ve single-handedly brought saris back into fashion.
I love saris. They have a lot of sensuality and grace. It is the most accepting garment — whatever your height, weight or profession may be, it wraps itself around you, and makes you feel and look good.
Do you have childhood memories of wearing your mother’s saris? Which is your favourite one from her wardrobe?
Yes, I have a picture in one too. It was cream chiffon, with yellow flowers, and I wore it with her big sunglasses. I love all of them, but if I have to choose, it would be the one from her wedding — a red and gold Kanjeevaram one.
When was the first time you draped a sari?
I’ve always loved and been fascinated by them, even as a child. But I distinctly remember people’s reactions when I wore the Lal Par Sada sari (white and red Bengali sari) while shooting for my first scene in Parineeta (2005).
A sari marks the coming of age of a girl, and that day, I really felt like I had come of age (laughs).
At one point, your dressing sense was criticised a lot. Who stood by you and advised you to change your style?
I was trying to fit in and I faced a lot of criticism for what I wore and didn’t. Conversations with my family, (director) R Balki and (designer) Sabyasachi gave me perspective. I went back to being myself. Wearing a sari was part of that. I think I could’ve been born in a sari.
Who is your favourite designer?
Sabyasachi, because he has made traditional Indian attire so fashionable and aspirational. He personifies the sari. Just like the garment adapts to your body and embraces your form, his clothes complement and celebrate your individuality. That makes him one-of-a-kind.
Do you feel the sari is the most sensuous attire?
It accentuates one’s feminity like no other garment does. Simply put, it’s the best tease. It covers just the right amount and leaves the rest to your imagination (winks).
Tell us about your collection. Which are your favourites?
My picks are the orange, pink, brown and red cotton saris that I’ve bought from around the country. The most traditional one I own would have to be the south Indian nine-yard sari that I purchased for my wedding.
The cheapest one is a sari I bought for Rs. 160 during the promotions of Ishqiya (2010).
Will you experiment with sheer and lace saris?
I love organic fabrics and weaves. There’s a variety to choose from because every region has something unique to offer. When I’m done trying all of those, I might experiment (laughs).
The one and only Rekha.