There is a lot of buzz going around that the Hindi films are getting meaningful in terms of the getups and attires and are trying to be as realistic as possible. The celebrated examples to buttress this point being given are KHOYA KHOYA CHAND and LAGA CHUNRI MEIN DAAG. It is indeed a sign of the things to come that realism is started making its presence felt in terms of the attires that the characters are adorning. This would in a way ensure the continuity of the shooting process as would also cut down on the number of bloomers that audience point out after a film is released.
But this phenomenon is not a new phenomenon. It was Amitabh Bachchan who did the same in MAIN AZAAD HOON where to portray the character of a man who is in the search of a job, he is shown wearing the same black over coat and the army canvas gum boots which gave realism to the characters. Realism as an element of cinema finding expression through the costumes of the times and the demands of the situations had its integral presence in the art films of the Hindi film world for quite a long time, but it rarely found an expression in the commercial film. It was always felt that the commercial cinema sold dreams and the dreams could never portray status of abjectness. MAIN AZAAD HOON was echoing what Raj Kapoor had done in JAAGTE RAHO around fifty years ago, wherein he was never shown in flashy clothes, but it was more to do with the character itself who was impoverished. In fact whenever a character of poverty was portrayed it was rarely experimented with in terms of the costumes and dresses, but for the fact that a super star was portraying this character.
Authenticity gets accentuated when the clothes that the characters wear are an authentic expression of the times. Sanjay Leela Bhansali espouses this cause with a great finesse and the oeuvre of his films, be it HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM, DEVDAS or BLACK, which are eloquent testimony about the same. It was this quest of authenticity, which Bhanu Aitheya strived for in GANDHI that earned her the Oscars for Costume Design, and is the only Oscar that an Indian has won so far.
With the amount of investment that goes into making of a film these days, it is but natural that authenticity is portrayed through the dresses as well. This authenticity has more relevance particularly in the period films, and if the same is not done, then the films fall at the altar. This had happened in the case of UMRAO JAAN of J P Dutta while the UMRAO JAAN of Muzaffar Ali did succeed as it created the aura of the period through the attires as well. One thing is for sure that the dresses have now come to form an integral part of the whole set up and have become a vital cog in providing authenticity to the films. As they say, Clothes maketh the man, so the films are also undergoing deconstruction to attain an element of realism.