For Deepika Padukone's resplendent lehengas, Shahid Kapoor's elegant achkans and jamas, and Ranveer Singh's get-up which reflected Turkish origins in PADMAAVAT, designer-duo Rimple and Harpreet Narula undertook challenging and extensive research, which they say has left an indelible mark on their own signature aesthetics.
Set in the 13th century, the period drama directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the story of the legendary Rajput queen Padmavati, her husband and Rajput king Maharawal Ratan Singh, and Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji. The detailing in the costumes has been much appreciated.
"Working on a project of this stature can prove to be quite challenging since the garments play a significant role in bringing to life the personas of these historical figures, the cultural influences as well as maintaining the authenticity of the period," Rimple told IANS.
Harpreet said: "Over a period of time, these characters became our muses and the entire process left an indelible mark on our own signature aesthetic."
The designers have vouched for the perfectionist that Bhansali is known to be.
"He had a vision and it was fascinating to see how the characters he envisioned translated to real people with whom we interacted on the sets. Moreover, our perception of drama in clothes has also undergone a change while working on the project how at times 'less is more' or 'more is less', given the moment in the story line; or how various elements need to be layered for a cohesive look that is in sync with the director's vision," said Rimple.
PADMAAVAT marked the first time the designers have worked with Bhansali, known for lending rare grandeur to his movies.
"Sanjay sir has a very beautiful way of orchestrating the extremely detailed and spectacular canvases he has envisioned on screen. Thankfully, we were always on the same page as him and never really had a clash. His in-depth knowledge and research on the period formed the guidelines which we followed while creating each look," Harpreet said.
For this, they had to isolate key elements that might have been prevalent in the era and eliminate all modern/Mughal/European influences from the garments and enter a "pure-zone".
They relied on old manuscripts and travellers' accounts and the writings of court historians and Sufi saints such as the 16th century historian Abd-al-Qadir Bada'uni for reference when it came to the ornate styling and layering of the looks.
"Remarkably, we discovered that the costumes of Awadh were very different from the ones that were popular in Delhi, and we tried to integrate these small distinctions in our design," said Harpreet.
To get the look right for Deepika as Rani Padmavati, the designers' team got special prints developed from Sanganer and Bagru for the textiles that were used.
For Shahid's character, Harpreet said Bhansali had instructed them to avoid following "any vague generalisations of costumes that have been depicted in cinema till now".
He said Bhansali's aim was to have such garments for Shahid that not only carried forward the narrative but also expressed the emotional turmoil and complexities the character undergoes.
What about Khilji?
"Given Khilji's nomadic Turkish origins, we did a lot of research on the costumes and textiles of the belt, right from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan to the central Asia belt around Turkey. Our own travels also came in handy as we have, over the years, collected samples of various old textiles such as Suzanis and Tapestries from flea markets and auctions, which were great reference points for getting the styling and the look and feel just right," said Rimple.
The ensembles are now archived with the film's production house, but Rimple and Harpreet hope they are some day able to showcase the bespoke creations.
"We would love to get a platform to showcase them for people to see them, see the research that went into creating them and the work of so many artisans and craft clusters that helped us achieve the looks," said Rimple.
Expressing gratitude to the people who worked behind the scenes, Harpreet said: "The block printers, gotta weavers and embroiderers are the ones who made it possible for us to bring to life Bhansali's vision; (the film provided them) a platform that was able to showcase their craft, bring them into focus and help revive these age-old techniques that are losing out to mass production and machine-made fabrics and embroideries."