Those collared short silk kurtis stopping above the hip, paired with Patiala pants in a riot of vibrant colours, with or without a crossbody jhola — the most defining image of reel-to-real transformation of fashion in the mid-2000s, thanks to Rani Mukerji’s iconic looks in Bunty Aur Babli (2005) that went on to be a rage with young girls all over the country, who made their own versions of the looks with all possible variations but attempting to keep the silhouettes intact. Aki Narula, who had done the costumes for the film, has created many a memorable Bolly wardrobe, from Monsoon Wedding to Don (2006) to Bluffmaster! and Tashan, but Bunty Aur Babli remains on the top of people’s mind when one talks about the designer’s Bolly stint.
With the ‘spiritual sequel’ — Bunty Aur Babli 2 that released in theatres on November 19 — we had our eyes on the film’s fashion meter again. And this time expectations were high when we heard that Rani’s looks in the film have been designed by none other than Sabyasachi Mukherjee. Rani and Sabya go a long way back — the two have been close friends and the designer has created the looks of many of the actress’s films, the most memorable among them being for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black. Other films like Baabul and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag followed. Rani has also been Sabya’s showstopper for his ramp shows.
What is interesting is that they decided to include Sabyasachi in the storyline. So in the film, Rani plays this small-town fashionista who makes Sabyasachi fakes. And like I have the Royal Bengal Tiger logo on my clothes and accessories, she makes this logo of a cat called Winnie!
“I will tell you the background... what happened is, when Bunty Aur Babli was being made, Rani had approached me to do the costumes for the film. I was busy with my preparations for New York Fashion Week at that time and so I didn’t have the time to do it. Then Aki (Narula) went on to do the costumes for the film and they became so iconic. But I had told Rani that if you ever do a sequel to the film, I will do the costumes. So, this time, Rani came to me and said, ‘Do you remember your promise? You have to do the costumes for Bunty Aur Babli 2’. I couldn’t say no to her so I agreed to do the costumes for the film,” Sabya told The Telegraph when we dialled him on the day BB2 released.
Bunty Aur Babli 2, however, was not just another film styling assignment for Sabya. This is a film where the mandate for Sabya — arguably the most copied Indian fashion designer — was to make cheap imitations of his own clothes. “What is interesting is that they decided to include Sabyasachi in the storyline. So in the film, Rani plays this small-town fashionista who makes Sabyasachi fakes. She makes cheap copies of Sabyasachi clothes and she herself wears very tacky versions of the Sabysachi x H&M printed outfits… like the jumpsuits, the visor cap.… And like I have the Royal Bengal Tiger logo on my clothes and accessories, she makes this logo of a cat called Winnie (laughs),” says Sabya.
Rani in Bunty Aur Babli 2
Rani Mukerji in Bunty Aur Babli
Rani in Sabya costumes...
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
The “great irony”, Sabya feels, “is that my job in this film was to make copies of my own clothes.” “And I had a lot of fun doing that... making cheap imitations of my own outfits,” he laughs.
When you think Sabyasachi, you think his signature prints and ornate borders that have been the designer’s trademark from the very beginning. Predictably, the flourishing Sabyasachi copy market thrives on replicating just these two elements — tacky versions of the floral prints and the jazzy borders — which have been the winning formula of a Sabyasachi fake, manufactured by garage designers in Kolkata to big markets in Delhi and Mumbai. It’s this formula that Sabya, too, adopted while designing Rani’s costumes for Bunty Aur Babli 2. “The easiest and most common way to copy Sabyasachi is to replicate the prints and borders. And that’s what I did. I made cheap copies of my own clothes… with emphasis on the prints and borders. The everyday clothes that Rani’s character (Vimmi) wears in the film are copies of my H&M collection. The dressier ones are with the tacky borders and prints in very loud colours,” adds Sabya.
We will be watching the ‘Fashion Queen of Fursatganj’ for some serious style inspiration now!