Anju Modi has been in the news recently for bagging the assignment for designing the costumes for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani. The movie is expexted to have a production budget of Rs. 150 crores and is the director's dream project that potrays a love story between a King and his courtesan.
The designer has been riding high on the success of Bhansali's Goliyon Ki Rasleela-Ram Leela, the first film that Anju Modi designed costumes for. The movie won a lot of awards in the costume category. The designer says that she visited the Daulatabad fort and museums. “I wanted to explore Maharashtrian culture. We have all done the South, Benares, and Calcutta,” she says, “But there was nothing on the Marathas. Theirs is a very different philosophy. It’s all about power play. Their turbans and the navvari saris are all very aristocratic, not fragile.” Of course, Modi’s Bajirao wears the angrakhas we see in photographs of Maratha warriors. But this is a story of his personal life, “so what he wears to bed concerns me more. We had to imagine how he is at home”, she says.
The pride of the wife Kashibai is expressed through her clothing — the nath, the flower motifs in the hair, the tautness of the hips via the nine-yard sari. For Mastani, the half-Muslim: “She has a Lucknowi wardrobe, shararas, kurtis, angrakhis and farshis with a lot of flares and dupattas. The Mughal influence on Indian states and their attire had well begun by this time, in the 16th century,” says Modi.
Anju Modi has tied up with the state government to develop a fabric that combines tussar and cotton. “Bhansali hates silk, he wouldn’t let me use it. So we needed something that would look rich and still have a softness to drape it,” says Modi. Jewellery also required research. “There was a lot of gold and pearls here too. They had the todi, a beautiful anklet, a traditional necklace called the tanmani and some truly magical motifs like the moon and the sun in their bun hairstyles. Even the men wore earrings around the lobe,” says Modi.
“Ghagras are in my DNA. I am from Rajasthan and we understand the comfort of a lehenga more than a sari. A lehenga allows you to run. It shows off your waistline. It comes naturally to me, and however I can make it twirl is part of my natural flow,” says Modi about the Lehenga that Deepika Padukone wore for the poster of Ram Leela.