While her lehengas go round and round, she stays grounded

She wandered around the room with a cup of tea in her hand. She seemed satisfied just looking at the way people were combing through her collection. Anju Modi sipped from her cup slowly, almost in a meditative effect, as ladies rushed to the changing room to try the long flowy lehengas and blouses.

That's the designer for you

That’s the designer for you

After winning a lifetime of compliments for her costume designs in the movie Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ramleela, Anju knew how to handle frenzy.  Her clients couldn’t compliment her enough on her new collection that was launched in the city recently. Anju would smile to all of them, help them pick dresses and engage in casual how-is-the-weather conversations. And without being too rude, occasionally she would slip into a small room to give interviews.

‘Ma’am wouldn’t you want to attend to your clients?’ a staff would call out to her.

Arey, maine to kapade bana liye, ab aap log sambhalo…(I made the clothes, now you guys manage…)’ she would say, with a laugh.


Here is a copy of the interview I did  with her.

Even before the movie Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela released, talks about Deepika’s 30-kg lehenga on the poster and Priyanka’s seductive white dhoti in Ram Chahe Leela song went around like wildfire. Unperturbed by the blinding spotlight, costume designer Anju Modi sipped in on the compliments with all modesty.

The 30-kg lenhenga ?

The 30-kg lehenga ?

“The subject in itself was very vibrant. The character Leela (played by Deepika Padukone) in the movie, was vivacious, fun loving and full of life. Also, the script required a traditional outfit,” said Anju, who was recently in the city at the launch of her new collection ‘Draupadi’ at Evoluzione.

One of the designs from her 'Draupadi' collection

One of the designs from her ‘Draupadi’ collection

To suit the modern interpretation of the age-old love, the costumes were required to maintain that balance between being sexy and traditional. “The original Gujarati dresses are in itself very colourful. Also, we used a lot of velvet, which is again a very Gujarati fabric. The set (that was based in the background of Kutch) had a lot of colour. So the costumes were designed based on all that,” adds Anju.

Those who have watched the movie wouldn’t have missed the slow change in hues and patterns as the narration goes from a gush of romance in the beginning to violence towards the end. While Deepika sports deep-necked blouses and colour-dripping lehengas in the beginning, towards the end, it is more of close-necked tops and shawls.  “The team behind the movie always used to sit and discuss ‘Shall we do this, shall we do that?’ Since they were having all those discussions in front of me, everything progressed in a natural way. I wasn’t following any trend, I was just following my heart,” says Anju.

Unlike the conventional all-white sari for Holi, Anju decided to add colour to the costume, while keeping an elaborate white space

Unlike the conventional all-white sari for Holi, Anju decided to add colour to the costume, while keeping an elaborate white space

Now, her new collection, which is again as womanly as Leela’s, is based on the theme ‘Draupadi’.  Anju says that it is not her love for the epic, but her awe towards the philosophy behind it. “I like to have a story for my collection. And Draupadi is the perfect character when it comes to depicting a woman’s elegance, strength and sophistication,” says Anju.

The collection includes colours that sync with the different phases of Draupadi’s life. “Since she is born out of fire, I have used fiery orange. And then she goes after her swayamvar (marriage to Pandavas) to the royal palace. To depict that, I have used crimson and gold. To show her devotion to Krishna I have used blush pink, yellow and ivory which are spiritually inclined,” says Anju.

“I like to prepare a storyline and work around that. As I go along a storyline, I start relating it with hand embroidery, colours and motifs,” says Anju. Previously, she has done a collection based on a day in the life of a girl – from 6 am to 12 am. And her next, she says, is inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Well, we don't know about Alice in Wonderland, but this dress for Priyanka Chopra sure looks dreamy

Well, we don’t know about Alice in Wonderland, but this dress for Priyanka Chopra sure looks dreamy

It was earlier published in The New Indian Express. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/From-Draupadi-To-Alice-in-Wonderland/2014/03/13/article2105629.ece#.UyJ17D-Sw9I


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