One second, can you hold on please? I’m just spell-checking a document, I don’t want to make a mistake,” Anaita says on the phone. In the background, there’s some real cute baby talk. It’s not very clear what he’s saying but the word “rockets” comes up a lot. It’s her four-year-old boy, Zreh. Anaita Shroff Adajania is a multi-tasker. With a month-old baby boy Zane on hand (read lap), she steers the fashion department of Vogue India and is a celebrated stylist to the stars, both off-screen and on. And now, as her latest project Cocktail (husband Homi Adajania’s second film) is ready for release, t2 talks fashion, fashion and more fashion with Anaita.
Is it any different — being part of your husband’s film?
This is the second time I am working with Homi, the first was of course Being Cyrus. It’s a very rewarding experience to work with him because Homi is a very informed director. He’s very clear on the characters and that barely leaves scope for too many questions or interpretations. The characters are clearly defined and that helps in the styling process.
When the team went shopping and we saw an outfit, we knew instantly, without a doubt, if it would work for Veronica, Meera or Gautam (played by Deepika Padukone, former model Diana Penty and Saif Ali Khan). We ideated for the looks a lot before shopping or fitting, so again that helps.
Personally too, it’s nice to be in the same location as your husband since we are always working on different sides of the world! Our son Zreh was on location too, so it was a very enjoyable experience.
Deepika has never looked hotter!
She’s just let herself go! Deepika normally has every hair strand in place but for this, she has gone all out. Her hair is messy, it’s dirty, and her clothes are not all the time perfect. And the fact that she gave us this amazing body to work with! There was no stress of any camouflage or tricks, there was nothing to hide. Even Saif worked out and gave me the body I needed so he could wear slim tees and shorts.
Tumhi ho bandhu looks and sounds fabulous. Must have been amazing to work on?
The reason the song has worked is because everyone is having fun. Everyone was dancing, right from the extras to the crew, and of course the actors! The energy was infectious. The song is about letting go of your inhibitions, it’s when friends just go out and party hard. It’s like khuley dil se party! There were so many people on the set, many wanted to be a part of the song without even getting paid!
Take us through the three looks...
Saif and Deepika’s looks were decided in advance. Saif is wearing military green shorts and a tee layered with a denim shirt. I love this combination! Deepika is wearing an All Saints sequinned skirt and a deconstructed tee that is knotted on one side. Dior sunglasses, Faith shoes and her signature bracelets. And Diana is wearing a printed playsuit with a white shirt thrown on.
What is your secret to getting the look so real and right?
The trick is to keep the characters looking very real and believable. Homi was very clear he didn’t want a fashion show! There were some looks that we had created but he thought they were ‘too fashion’ so he never let me shoot those.... Also, I think it’s important to go with your gut feeling. Instinct plays the biggest role. I’m lucky to have a young, talented team and I am always eager to hear what they have to say. I get their opinions and I like to observe them. We work as a team, we shop together, we have many open discussions and that’s what comes through.
You are also a big believer in the Calcutta school of style…
Personally, I am completely in awe of it. Some of my most favourite designers are from Calcutta. They are entrenched in tradition, they know the importance of craftsmanship and they have a unique point of view from the rest of the country. Be it Sabyasachi (Mukherjee), Anamika (Khanna) or Kallol (Datta), it’s very exciting to look into their work, it’s almost like history modernised. And yes, I wish I had more of Calcutta designers in my cupboard — I can be dressed like that every day!
Finally, where do you think Indian fashion is headed?
It’s a very exciting stage of fashion in India. People who are talented will be separated from those who are not. People doing innumerable fashion weeks, without getting any orders or business, won’t be able to keep up their pretence any longer. Facebook shows me that every second kid wants to be a fashion writer or stylist! When I started out there weren’t many stylists but today it’s an overpopulated industry. The good thing is that you can go places on the merit of your talent and it no longer depends on who you know. The world is more interested than ever in Indian designers and suddenly things are changing. The audience is also more educated and is willing to take more risks. So yes, Indian fashion is heading in the right direction.
Veronica is somebody I identify with a lot. Growing up in Mumbai, you see a lot of Veronicas who have a natural flair for fashion. She’s rich and she has access to designer. She has the right bag, the right shoes, the right jewellery. You can tell she flips through a fashion magazine and identifies what she likes and what she doesn’t. She doesn’t do trends blindly. The way she stacks bracelets on her wrist, including a cuff by Hermes that she might have picked up on a trip to Greece.…
She puts the right things together. Her accessories are branded but she doesn’t buy them because they are branded, but because she likes them. She loves the high street and loves to scout for something cool.
She could be wearing an oversized T-shirt but it’s probably from an ex-boyfriend. She likes to be noticed and she wears her
sexuality on her sleeve. Even her heels have to be the highest of heels. We have experimented with her hair but at the same time it had to look that she’s done it herself, be it a braid or a clip. She couldn’t look like she lives in a salon! And even if she’s wearing something very casual, there will be something very trendy about her look.
Veronica likes to dress up and she loves the effect she has on people!
Gautam is this cocky guy from Delhi who is good at what he does and doesn’t care about how he dresses. At work, he wears his worn-in jeans, worn-in boots, a skinny tie and a jacket because jacket pehenna padega! After-hours, he is a very casual dresser, living out of a bag full of clothes. His tees are old — some six years old — and nicely lived-in and stretched. He lives in shorts and with the whole world stuffed into the pockets. Actually now that I’m talking about it, Gautam dresses exactly like Homi! Both live in shorts, tees and chappals!
Meera comes from a middle-class family in Delhi. She’s a conservative dresser and wears salwar kameezes stitched by the neighbourhood tailor. When she comes to London, she tries to adapt to the fashion but in her own way. She wears a lot of separates, mostly basics, layered with light cardigans. Her dresses are full-length. She’s not trying to be cool, cool just happens to be a by-product. Veronica helps mould her sense of style and lends her a few things but Meera is simpler — her bag doesn’t change in every scene! Her hairstyles have that quirk, be it a braid or a sweet clip. Everything she wears is easy and fuss-free, there’s an effortless chic quality about her.
How long do you take to get ready?
I’m a very casual dresser by habit so I don’t take long. But if I feel something is not looking good, or making me look fat, I change or I add a layer!
One genre of film you want to do?
An unrealistic musical with no boundaries and restrictions on location, time and reality — it would be all-out fantastical!
Acid colours are a big trend. Wear it and make it your own. If the colour seems too fashion forward for you, start with an accessory like a bag or a bracelet. This trend can be carried forward to the monsoon too, so be the bright spark in the gloom! Even boys can do the washed-out version of acid colours — in everything from shirts to shoes.
Anaita’s fab 5
Love Aaj Kal
(for Shah Rukh Khan)
Everybody says i’m fine
Homi Adajania on a ‘bully’ as producer and a stylist who sleeps with the director of cocktail!
In 2005, debutant director Homi Adajania’s offbeat psychological thriller Being Cyrus created a buzz. Thereafter, the maverick maker dabbled in scuba diving, adventure trips, writing and hobnobbing with a fakir in Venice! Seven years later, Homi the director is back with the Saif Ali Khan-Deepika Padukone-Diana Penty rom com Cocktail, that releases on July 13. A t2 chat...
Cocktail has created a huge buzz!
I think the online promotions have really helped. Once you put out a film promo on the Net, the number of people who have access to it is unimaginable. It was quite a virgin space that we were putting out the promo in and we didn’t really know what to expect. But I was completely blown away by the fact that the online hits came up to some 20 lakh or so only in the first week. Then, of course, it went viral and people started waiting for the next thing to come out.... Tumhi ho bandhu has almost become an anthem. So Cocktail is in a great space right now.
Why the seven-year gap between Being Cyrus and Cocktail?
Because I am more of a beach bum than a filmmaker, ya! (Laughs out loud.) On a more serious note, making Being Cyrus was something on my bucket list. I am a very impulsive sort and like so many other things in my life, I woke up one day and decided to make a film and Being Cyrus was born. It was just another life experience for me. It was a different kind of a film that got more or less appreciated by the viewer it was targeted at. And then I moved on because there were other things to do. Like living life! (Laughs.)
But then Saif (Ali Khan) kept badgering me saying that he felt that I had a few more films in me, though he was also quick to point out that he thinks I am a mediocre director (laughs). He pretty much yanked me out of my slumber. We discussed a few ideas and finally when he got the story of Cocktail from Imtiaz (Ali, the director of Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal who has written Cocktail), he told me that I should direct it.
|A moment from Cocktail
One wouldn’t really associate the man behind Being Cyrus with a rom com like Cocktail…
Which is exactly what I told Saif when I heard the story! I am more at home with a dark psychological thriller like Being Cyrus… murder… deception. But Saif was adamant I do it precisely for the reason that Cocktail would be a space I wouldn’t be comfortable in. He somehow felt that I would bring a different kind of sensibility to the film and not make it look like another rom com. To be frank, Saif didn’t leave me with much choice… he can be a real bully when he wants to (laughs).
What were the challenges then of making a second film that is completely different from your first?
The challenge was that it wasn’t in my comfort zone… but then again, that was the attraction too. I was initially very apprehensive about the whole format of a rom com… using songs to take the narrative forward and all that. I was going to back out, but then one day, I thought what better way to challenge myself than take up a film in an unfamiliar territory and try and make it my own. I called up Saif and told him that I would do it because I would add my own touch to it, but honestly I had no idea how I was going to do it. But Saif was happy enough with that and I was in.
I think I managed to hold my own in the film because my strength is that I am well aware of what my weaknesses are. And as a producer and actor, Saif was always there to take care of my weaknesses. My sensibilities of music are completely different from what we have in our Bollywood films and so I left that department completely to Saif. But at no point of time was I made to feel that I wasn’t in control. In the end, I quite enjoyed myself and even danced to some of the songs while filming them!
How did you zero in on Deepika Padukone and newcomer Diana Penty for Veronica and Meera?
When I came in, Deepika was already on board. In fact, she was the one who chose the role of Veronica over Meera (played by Diana). I hadn’t seen any of her work before, but I was sure that I wanted people to come out of the film and say, ‘what a good actor’ and not ‘what a beautiful woman’. Veronica is a very nicely layered character with moments of unpredictability, but very cool overall and Deepika has made it her own.
For Meera, we wanted a fresher with no baggage of image. I wanted someone who had a natural awkwardness and Diana fit the bill because though she has been a successful ramp model, she hadn’t really faced the camera as such. We had to de-glam her quite a bit because Meera is a pretty girl but wears conservative clothes and doesn’t bother about how she looks.
Saif, of course, is the producer and he pretty much decided he wanted to play the guy in the middle of these two women. And I didn’t really have a choice in that! (Laughs.)
How was it working with your wife Anaita Shroff Adajania as the stylist of the film?
Don’t tell anyone but Anaita got the job because she is sleeping with the director (laughs out loud)! She’s done a great job, seriously. We were completely in tune with how the characters should look. At home, she gives me a spanking once in a while, but outside I am the boss (laughs)!
Will it be another seven-year wait for your third film?
Everyone asks me this question quite disdainfully, with a ‘What a lazy ass you are!’ kind of look (laughs). But no, I had a great experience with Cocktail and I hope to move a lot faster with my third film. I think I have been bitten by the film bug, finally.