Vidya Balan: The Sari is the most flexible garment – Recently, NY Times carried a piece stating how the garment has become “a priority” in India. After Hrs caught up with Vidya Balan, a die-hard sari lover, on the six-yard wonder
In a piece which appeared in New York Times this week, titled ‘In India, Fashion Has Become a Nationalist Cause’, writer Asgar Qadri observed that, “India’s leaders have always made political use of traditional clothing, from Mohandas K Gandhi’s adoption of the dhoti to Jawaharlal Nehru’s jacket. But active state intervention and patronage of the fashion industry have never before reached this scale.”
Designer David Abraham of label Abraham & Thakore commented in the article, “A subtle current of Indianising the fashion was already there, but now, with the government’s backing, it has gained a new momentum.”
In the wake of this article, After Hrs caught up with B-Town’s veritable clotheshorse, who has worn the sari while keeping its sartorial purity and simplicity intact. The Tumhari Sulu beauty has often been seen sporting handwoven and craft-based saris from textiles-based labels like Anavila, Raw Mango and Eka. She’s smitten with designer Gaurang’s artisanal weaves and counts the iconic Rekha as one of her style inspirations. One’s keen to ask her if it was a conscious decision to promote India’s indigenous crafts. “Gaurang does Kanjeevarams with a contemporary touch, he’s using a lot of animal motifs. I am really exploring the sari space and there’s some amazing work happening,” she says with a smile.
MOM’S MY INSPIRATION
She says, “My mom always wore cotton and Kanjeevaram saris, but I didn’t know what was organic, what was synthetic.
When I worked with designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee for a while, he opened my eyes to a lot of things, he helped me understand the story behind the handloom products and also different kinds of weaves from across the country. What I knew instinctively was articulated by him.”
A SARI COLLECTOR
Vidya observes that there’s such a diverse array of saris in India. “I am a collector but not a hoarder. In fact, I like to auction my saris at some point for various purposes because that’s putting it to better use. I get sent a lot of stuff, so I don’t have to go anywhere to shop. I get gifted a lot, especially, saris. Everywhere I go, I get a sari and I shamelessly accept them,” she quips with a smile.
Vidya Balan and stylist and costume designer Rick Roy have worked together many times and the mutual understanding and comfort level they share reflects in their projects. Vidya says, “Director Suresh Triveni was absolutely clear about the character he had in mind and he would keep drilling it in Rick and that’s why you see me wearing more floral prints and flowy saris given the economic strata she belongs to. Rick had to interpret that and I trust him a lot. He always brings out the best in me. We’d sit together and go through the character sketch. With someone like Rick, I am at ease.
In Begum Jaan, he had to come up with the period look on his own but here the character sketch was well-defined and that dictated the clothes. He didn’t want to use things off-the-rack. Of course, one can easily go to Manish Market and buy synthetic saris, which reflect the current trends. But he cut dupattas and made saris by combining different kinds of fabrics. He did a great job.”
THERE ARE NO RULES
There’s been criticism from purists about the purity of the sari being diluted by designers, who do sari gowns and dresses. Vidya nixes the idea. “I really think there are no rules and you can wear what you want. I have friends who mix and match really well and they’re such cool dressers. Their attitude makes them pull anything off. It’s really individualistic. A lot of people are weary of draping a sari like most people do. If a sari dress or gown gives them some degree of comfort, it’s great. Sari is the most flexible garment and you can wear it for any occasion. It’s versatile. I anyway don’t understand fashion in its pure form like that,” says she in all honesty.