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How Bollywood wears winter

From classic preppy wool coats for men to pompom beanies for women, here's a quick look at the evolution of winter-wear in Hindi films

Dilip Kumar in a still from ‘Madhumati’ .
Dilip Kumar in a still from ‘Madhumati’ .

Romantic winter-wear for the Bollywood leading lady might have been a flimsy chiffon sari, but we found enough instances of tweed coats, fur-lined jackets, berets and boots to keep a couple warm. Over the years, our leading men have found various ways to drape their pullovers around their shoulders or even fling them—indeed, it appears that winter- wear in our cinema is more effective when it is not actually worn. We have suffered through the ugly sweater brigade of the 1980s to reach where we are now, mirroring trends straight out of fashion glossies, with structured Italian wool coats and sporty puffer vests and leather jackets. Take a fun, nostalgic trip down memory lane with Lounge as we pull out 12 wintery moments.

Dilip Kumar, Madhumati, 1958

In Bimal Roy’s Madhumati, Dilip Kumar walks through the woods with a spring in his step, a song on his lips (Suhana Safar), and a sweater draped casually around his shoulders. Decades later, Shah Rukh Khan, whose admiration for Kumar is well known, would turn it into a consciously cultivated style statement.

Shammi Kapoor in a still from ‘Junglee’.

Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu, Junglee, 1961

It’s easy to miss other things on screen when you have a spirited Shammi Kapoor rolling down the snow-capped mountains of Kashmir singing Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe. While he’s rather colourful in his suede belted jacket with elbow patches , it is Saira Banu’s beige wool coat with a lovely nude collar, and a chunni wrapped as a head scarf, which gets our attention.

Dev Anand in a still from ‘Jewel Thief’.

Dev Anand, Jewel Thief, 1967

Corduroys, scarves knotted around the neck, berets and all kinds of hats—Dev Anand appeared in variations of this preppy combination in Jewel Thief as well as his other films, bringing a flamboyance like no other male lead. Winter-wear allows for layering, and Anand matched checks with checks, did pattern on pattern, wore large pointy collars and lapels, and created a style statement of his own.

Rajesh Khanna in a still from ‘Aradhana’.

Rajesh Khanna, Aradhana, 1969

Rajesh Khanna, clad in a Nepali topi, an olive blazer and a green Polo-neck sweater, racing in an open Jeep, along a toy train from which a coy Sharmila Tagore looks out, is one of the most enduring images of Hindi cinema. The costume designer is Mani Rabadi—along with R. Vaidya—who has created iconic looks in films such as Don (1978), Bobby (1973), Jewel Thief (1967) and An Evening In Paris (1967). It is also a nod to regional sartorial traditions.

Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhi in a still from ‘Kabhi Kabhie’.

Amitabh Bachchan, Kabhi Kabhie, 1976

Turtlenecks were all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s (see Khanna and Sujit Kumar in the picture above) and Yash Chopra’s inter-generational romance saw the trend at its peak. While Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh wore bright ones in Tere Chehre Se, it’s Amitabh Bachchan (romancing a leopard-print coat-clad Rakhee in a previous scene) who stood out in an understated pastel turtleneck.

Sri Devi and Rishi Kapoor in a still from ‘Chandni’.

Rishi Kapoor and Sridevi, Chandni, 1989

The 1980s saw Rishi Kapoor and Sridevi frolicking in the Alps in colour-coordinated sweaters, a true, unapologetic representation of the garish and loud decade; even Yash Chopra, who had shown restraint and subtlety in Silsila (1981), succumbed to it, in fact celebrated it.

Aamir Khan in a still from ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ .

Aamir Khan, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, 1992

Aamir Khan’s white pullover in Pehla Nasha has a blink-and-miss appearance but it features in the song’s most memorable moment. The ultimate soundtrack for falling in love for an entire generation, Pehla Nasha reaches its peak when Khan, dressed in a red sweatshirt, twirls his sweater and flings it with abandon—in slow motion, of course. Choreographer Farah Khan’s first assignment, this was Bollywood at its mooniest best

Kajol in a still from ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’.

Kajol, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, 1995

A swaying, drunk Kajol in the song Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Mein, wouldn’t have been half as convincing without her suede pencil skirts, snug wraparound tops, and the iconic little red dress paired with boots and a beret (who needs a jacket in the heat of young love?). It might have inspired an entire generation of women to reconsider their shopping list when going on a European holiday.

Shah Rukh Khan in a still from ‘Mohabbatein’.

Shah Rukh Khan, Mohabbatein, 2000

Shah Rukh Khan’s character Raj Aryan had a specific look and its most imitable element was the wrap-around-the-shoulders sweater. Playing romantic mentor to students of the all-boys boarding school Gurukul, Khan wore cool pastels that contrasted with the heavy bandhgalas of Amitabh Bachchan’s disciplinarian school principal Narayan Shankar. Director Karan Johar chipped in alongside Manish Malhotra as the costume designer.

Preity Zinta in a still from ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’.

Preity Zinta, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, 2006

While everyone dressed up impeccably in Karan Johar’s glamorous take on extra-marital affairs, Preity Zinta’s New York-based fashion editor got the licence to be more chic than others. With leather jackets, high boots, fitted gowns with plunging necklines, all in the fall colours of black, browns, emerald green and plum, the age of haute couture in Bollywood had begun.

Deepika Padukone in a still from ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

Deepika Padukone, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, 2013

“Athleisure" might be the fashion industry’s favourite child currently, but Bollywood is catching up. A sporty sleeveless puffer jacket over a knit dress, paired with tights, gloves and boots—Padukone in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani wore what anyone who has gone on a trek to Himachal Pradesh would. Winter became real and nerdy became cool.

Kangana Ranaut in a still from ‘Simran’.

Kangana Ranaut, Simran, 2017

Whether it’s the working-girl character of Kangana Ranaut in Simran, or the diva poetess that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), long wool coats (no shame in pairing them with cute pompom beanies) and fur-lined leather jackets straight off the fashion glossies have become a staple in Bollywood. We’ve come a long way from the chiffon saris and backless blouses that Bollywood’s leading women had to make do with.

Compiled by the Lounge team

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