Though Dia plays a Bengali in Paanch Adhyay, her look isn’t strictly Bengali...
Yes, very much so. Ishita (Dia) is an urban girl... a modern Indian woman and we want everyone to connect with the film. There are nuances of a girl who is steeped in culture, but Indian culture.
Dia told us that Ishita’s look changes as she matures in the course of the film. Take us through the looks...
Dia and I were very clear about what Ishita was going to look like, in terms of her hair, make-up and even the fit! The fit becomes more easy and free-flowing towards the latter half of the film.
Paanch Adhyay starts when Ishita is about 24-25 years old and spans a period of about 10 to 12 years of her life. So, she starts out as a young girl who is about to embark on her career and the look is very optimistic. It reflects her personality... bright colours, very young... but still very ethnic because that is Ishita’s background. She wears a lot of handwoven fabrics and a lot of Indian jewellery that a younger person would use. Not necessarily expensive things because she hasn’t started earning yet.
As the story progresses and she gets married, the clothing changes to a more sedate, more mature look. She is now a woman who is happy with her life. As you get older, your personality develops and you become more confident of who you are. You find your space. That is reflected in Ishita. She still uses handloom and handwoven fabrics. Now she moves on to saris because that is probably what she has seen her mother wear... the space that she has grown up in. Her jewellery becomes more expensive as she can afford better things, but the basis of her look stays the same.
The use of colours in the film is important. It reflects what’s happening on screen. Both Pratim (D. Gupta, director) and I believe that it is how the mood of the character comes across. A younger Ishita wears a lot of yellows, sunshine oranges and lime green. Then, as we see the character mature, the colour palette remains the same but the yellow becomes deeper, more ochre. You still see a green, but it becomes a more sedate... a bottle-green or a mehndi green. The blues, which were a bright turquoise, tone down to a teal. She is not yelling out at life anymore. She’s found her comfort zone. Everything is still colourful but it is more an earthier version of the same colour.
So what does a young Ishita wear?
It’s a mix. You see her in trousers and kurtis, but you’ll also see her in skirts with a T-shirt and a waistcoat or just a nice cotton top. The tops aren’t necessarily very ethnic. The saris are more definitively from the east of India. The wardrobe for Dia’s younger days is all from Bombay.
We love the saris!
The saris are mostly stolen from my wardrobe, Dia’s wardrobe and Dia’s mum’s (Deepa) wardrobe! So basically, we have just ransacked everything! We have made new blouses to suit the character and added little finishing details.
The climax of the film... the last outfit that you see Dia in is a sari that my mother had bought me. It is a beautiful kantha sari and it is done on a different red, which is very unusual for kantha work. There is another very pretty yellow Baluchari sari, in a scene where you see Priyanshu (Chatterjee) and Dia together... a very happy phase in their life. That is from Dia’s wardrobe. It was a sari that she had picked up from Calcutta. We have used lovely tussore saris from Dia’s mum’s wardrobe. In fact there is a very important scene in the film where Dia is wearing a black-and-gold Benarasi. That was taken from Deepa aunty’s wardrobe.
Did Dia’s mother help with inputs?
My inspiration for the character, especially towards the latter half of the film, was actually Dia’s mother.... Deepa aunty is well-travelled, well-read. She’s got a little bit of everything in her but at the same time you cannot miss that she is a Bengali.... We would constantly pick her brains to firstly translate things for us... to get the tone and mood of the scene. And then generally bounce ideas... she would tell us how things were when she was growing up. We had to make it today.
Dia doesn’t wear much jewellery in Paanch Adhyay but you have given her lovely bags...
We were very keen on making sure that all her bags are practical and at the same time good-looking. In the younger days, it is more of a sling, more trendy. Then it becomes a more practical bag like what a working woman would have, but it is an elegant bag. We have used a lot of ethnic clutches and purses for the evening scenes... not the typical shiny, embroidered stuff, but made with zari.
A lot of the jewellery comes from Dia’s and my wardrobe. Most of the jewellery she has worn is gold and diamond. She is playing a woman who is fairly wealthy at that point in her life. We did not want to give her typical artificial jewellery. The gold jewellery is Dia’s and the silver and artificial jewellery in the first half is mine.
The make-up is also fresh and dewy...
Extremely light... in fact, through a large chunk of the film, we haven’t even used any make-up.
DIA ON her paanch adhyay look
The look shows the progression in Ishita’s journey and her state of mind. We debated on whether we wanted Ishita to look very Bengali or keep it a little more modern and contemporary, yet earthy. We chose the modern and contemporary. The look is very clean and natural. I don’t wear too much foundation anyway. This was a look where I could have my hands all over my face and rub my face and nothing would get smudged. It made me feel very free.
You will see me in a lot of block prints, cotton, skirts with a lot of interesting things like scarves and waistcoats. It is a free, young look. I am also wearing a lot of silver jewellery. The saris were all excavated from my mother’s cupboard and my own. Pratim did not want anything new. He wanted everything to look like it has been used and worn. When we were discussing the look, I pulled out a few saris from my cupboard and from my mother’s. I told Pratim, ‘See, this is the kind of thing that Ishita would wear.’ He was like, ‘Why cannot you wear this?’ He is a good good director for a producer! The saris are mostly cotton. A lot of them were bought in Calcutta. They just happened to come back right here!