Manish Malhotra on dressing up Poo, Shanaya and other memorable characters in Bollywood cinema

Right from Swarg in 1990 where he dressed up Juhi Chawla, followed by the path-breaking costumes in Rangeela for which he won his first Filmfare award followed by films such as DDLJ, Raja Hindustani,Dil toh pagal Hai, Judaai, Saathiya, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kaho na Pyaar Hai, Mohabbatein, Dhadkan, Pukaar, K3G, Hum Tum, Aitraz, Om Shanti Om, Jab We Met, Dostana, Three Idiots, Bodyguard, Chennai Express, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Krish 3, Two States, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Aey Dil Hai Mushkil, Mom, Badrinath ki Dulhaniya, Race 3, SOTY 2  there has been no looking back for couturier, costume stylist, entrepreneur and revivalist Manish Malhotra.

He has dressed up over a 100 Bollywood celebrities and his clientele includes the who’s who of the world – the late Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Jermaine Jackson and his wife Halima, Nick Jonas, Reese Witherspoon, and members of royal family of Saudi Arabia. He has dressed up over three generation of stars and his recent work has been with Disha Patani in Raadhey. Manju Ramanan catches up with Manish Malhotra.

You dressed up memorable characters like Poo in K3G and Shanaya in SOTY?

Kareena has been a first in setting many trends in movies and her character of Poo was one of them. In K3G she was a girl who loved herself, who was unapologetic about showing off her toned figure by wearing clothes that could do that, so styling and designing for her was fun. Also Kareena was already a star when she did K3G so the idea was to show her in a style audiences had never seen before and that worked.

Alia in SOTY was being introduced and we had to stay true to her character because people were going to see her for the first time. Alia also debuted at the time when millennials had just surfaced, we had to make her resonate with the generation of today, who have access to luxury brands no matter what their age is. She was a popular rich girl who had those things but wasn’t affected by it.

How different was it for you to design for Tara and Ananya – considering they are the same age and similar sensibilities?

They are two different personalities in the film. Ananya is more in athleisure and Tara is more in dresses as per their roles in the movies.


Tell us about the nuances to Madhuri and Alia’s costumes you created in Kalank?

I think I have been blessed that after 30 years in the industry , even today I get to do a Kalank and a Student of the Year simultaneously. Besides my fashion shows, doing these movies is something very few technicians see. There are very few technicians who see themselves working with the third generation and for that I’m very grateful. In Kalank, both the women belonged to India before partition so we had to keep in mind the era and the fashion then.  Madhuri plays a courtesan so we put her in a lot of long kalidaars, heavy embroidery in deep colors where Alia was a young newly wed so she was mostly in pastel shades and flowy kurtas with shararas.






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