Bollywood has long been a trendsetter for Indian society. The trends introduced by Bollywood actresses usually become the rage, and iconic movie outfits are fondly remembered even decades after release. In fact, some outfits are so iconic that they get etched in popular culture for eternity and are able to arrest the otherwise fleeting attention of the public.
For decades, sarees have been a staple in Bollywood apparel. The versatile garb has withstood the test of time, evolving with the changing social sentiment to always stay relevant. In fact, the six yards have been portrayed in various lights, ranging from uber traditional to modern and sensuous.
It is really no surprise then, that Bollywood has produced many statement moments, made significant by the sarees being flaunted by the female lead. Today, we take a look at some of the most iconic sarees worn by actresses in movies
1. Sridevi in the Beautiful Blue Saree from Mr. India
Sridevi is inarguably one of the most legendary actresses in the history of the Indian Film Industry. Not only was she the signature actress of her era, she also transitioned through roles to make contemporary commercial hits like English Vinglish. While that may have been her most recent role, her most memorable outfit came in the equally massive success Mr. India.
She scorched the screen in an incredible Blue chiffon saree, which she wore for the ‘Kaate Nahi Kat Te’ song. The sensuous sequence sent hearts racing, and the look is still fondly remembered as a truly iconic fashion statement.
The saree itself was minimalistic and understated- disrupting the otherwise flashy fashion of the eighties. An elegant monochromatic blue accentuated the natural beauty of the actress- and that of millions of others who quickly adopted the look subsequently.
2. Madhuri Dixit-Nene in Hum Aapke Hain Koun
‘Didi Tera Devar Deewana’ is a song as unforgettable as the movie Hum Aapke Hain Koun, was. The song remains popular for more reasons than one- it is a musical masterpiece with a tune that is hummed casually to this day. It also featured the legendary Madhuri Dixit in a now instantly recognizable purple saree.
The backless blouse which accompanied the saree became a popular fashion trend, sparking widespread adoption of the look across India. The saree had elaborately detailed patterns etched intricately across its body.
The saree is said to have been worth an estimated INR 15 Lakh rupees! It went on to inspire imitations which flooded the market, and also merchandise such as dolls which were marketed with the same look!
3. Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit in Devdas
Devdas is one of the biggest drama films in Bollywood history, having been called a Magnum Opus by seasoned critics. It has become synonymous with ostentatious expressions of strife and anyone who is exaggeratedly dramatic is often described as a ‘Devdas’ to this day.
But, Devdas is also remembered for the dazzling virtual extravaganza that were the matching sarees adorned by Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit in the iconic ‘Dola Re Dola’ song sequence. When a film uses design elements from about 600 sarees to create the final costumes, as Devdas did, you know the most memorable of them all have to be especially remarkable!
The sarees were made of lustrous off-white satin chiffon and featured a bold red border strip. They had extensive work and featured a myriad of intricate and elaborate designs which dazzled the public as they saw on in awe. The white-red color combination was accentuated by the beautiful gold work across the body of the sarees. The opulent pieces paid vibrant homage to traditional Bengali saree styles.
4. Rekha in Silsila
The timeless beauty of Rekha has set hearts throbbing for decades. In a career spanning over 50 years in the industry, Rekha redefined fashion in India several times. She was, and remains, a style icon.
Her saree clad look in Silsila remains especially memorable. Throughout the movie, she is seen wearing silky, flowing chiffon sarees. Rekha donned a variety of lustrous silks and monochrome chiffon sarees and is most popularly remembered for her stunning red saree from the film.
This was a bold look for the time, and galvanized women from across the country to wear sleeveless blouses with sarees that accentuated the body by their form fitting drape, instead of loosely covering it a generic cylinder. At a time when the Indian elite were shifting to ‘modern’ western fashion trends, Rekha is credited with popularizing the look of high society saree clad women. Through her looks in movies like Silsila, she contributed to making the saree relevant as a fashion statement instead of being reduced to a modest garb for the masses.
5. Priyanka Chopra in Dostana
Priyanka Chopra has emerged as a global ambassador for Indian fashion and representation on the global stage. Through her forays in western music, tv shows and movies, she has splendidly projected India internationally.
But, she began her charge at bringing Indian culture back into mainstream consciousness before making a breakthrough in the western entertainment industry. Her unforgettable off-white saree from Dostana reintroduced the saree as a fashion statement in Bollywood, and Indian society at large.
She typified the quintessential ‘Desi Girl’, earning the moniker by making the saree sexy again donning champagne hued six yards at a Miami nightclub. The pairing of the bikini blouse with the saree scorched the screens and brought minimalism back into on screen representations of the saree, after a period where ultra-elaborate outfits had become the norm.
6. Deepika Padukone in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Priyanka Chopra walked so Deepika could run. The Desi Girl paved the way for a new wave of Indian actresses to rock the saree on screen. Of these, most notable was Deepika Padukone’s saree clad avatar from the ‘Badtameez Dil’ song sequence in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
The film was a massive commercial success, and saw Deepika transform from a nerdy and reserved character to a glamorous diva. A tipping point in this transformation came when she donned a dark blue georgette saree in the song.
The saree was low draped and paired with a bold low cut black blouse. The black sequins on the blouse and the shimmering gold ones on the sleek border bedazzled audiences across India. The super glam avatar made sarees a trendy item to wear at chic parties, and not something reserved for traditional or festive gatherings.
7. Vidya Balan at the Paa Premiere
Vidya Balan is widely recognized as one of the foremost contemporary saree connoisseurs in Bollywood. She has an extensive saree collection and has created many signature saree moments both in movies and at social events. Her role in glamorizing sarees and making them a contemporary fashion statement once again cannot be understated.
Especially memorable was perhaps the Sabyasachi saree she wore at the premiere of her film, Paa. The statement saree was paired with a gorgeous open back blouse and instantly made waves. It was made of sheer white fabric and had a broad border with bold paisley motifs.
Inspired yet to recreate your own Bollywood style look? Head to our collections and pick your favourite from a plethora of sarees available - and who knows? You may get to pose your favorite Bollywood moment!
- Team Shobitam