From Deepika Padukone’s Rajasthan-influenced heavy odhnas and ghaghras as queen Padmavati to Ranveer Singh’s exotic court looks accentuating his nomadic origins as Alauddin Khilji, the costumes in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical drama Padmaavat said everything about its characters. Moreover, its meticulously-researched costumes provided a visual guide to some of the most gripping, seriously stunning trends of the medieval era.
The film’s costume designer, Rimple and Harpeet Narula, took to Instagram on Tuesday to talk about the signature styles of Padmaavat’s lead characters. From designing their sumptuous costumes, the tireless research behind the period pieces to the selection process, the historical value of the collection, and the costumes that took the longest to craft, the two have detailed everything.
Below, get your fill of Deepika, Ranveer and Co’s dramatic, perfectly-tailored costumes and the real story behind them.
Queen Padmavati (Deepika Padukone)
Explaining how the extensive use of colours in Rajput attire had connotations associated with the culture, religion and climate of a province, with each colour having a deep-rooted meaning, Rimple and Harpeet wrote that they used colours to convey emotions, seasons, customs and ceremonies in the film.
“Kesariya (saffron) and other shades of yellow are extensively used in the attire of both men and women and have since time immemorial been regarded as auspicious colours,” the post read.
“Traditionally, the colour was prepared using saffron leaves and was hence used mostly in the garments of the Rajput aristocracy, given the expensive value of the raw material. The colour was used in their wedding robes and was also associated with the brave warriors who died fighting on the battlefield.”
For Deepika’s royal looks, the designers got textiles developed using the above-mentioned traditional dyeing methods near Jaipur to get the right tone of the colour, to maintain authenticity of the province, Chittor.
“The textiles were layered with hand-block printing done in Bagru and Sanganer; and Varq Ka Kaam done by specialist artisans in Rajasthan. The base textiles thus developed, were then ornamented with traditional embroideries including Mukke ka Kaam, Pakko Bharat, Salma and Sitara, Silk Floss thread work using traditional embroidery stitches in various karkhanas spread across Jaipur and Lucknow; and rendered onto the elaborate Odhnas and Ghaghras.”
The designers added that even the draping of the odhnas was done in the traditional way after careful study of miniature paintings as well as murals and frescoes still found in some forts and havelis of Rajasthan’s Mewar region their design team visited.
Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor)
Shahid’s royal looks, the two revealed, featured meticulous detailing achieved over six months of intensive research on the period and the province (Chittor) they were dealing with. The two used reference from a few exhibits in the Calico Museum in Ahmedabad to study how garments of that time were ornamented.
“The angrakhas, dhotis, lungis, turbans and patkas were carefully studied, be it the fabrics that were used or the placements of the prints and embroideries. The actual textile development had to be finished off during the winter months as the humidity of the monsoon period adversely effects the quality of the block printing, so we had to work against the clock to get everything ready.”
“Embroideries were done using cotton and silk floss thread; executed using traditional embroidery stitches such as herringbone, button hole, blanket, chain, darning and single feather stitches to achieve the delicate base textures. These were then layered on with other more ornate embroideries done in zari and badla. Mukke ka kaam and Pakko Bharat techniques were juxtaposed on the court robes that are further layered with printed/embroidered angrakhas.”
Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh)
For Khilji’s ornate court looks, given his nomadic origins, the designers studied samples of vintage textiles and clothes of the Ottoman empire (spanning from Turkey to Afghanistan) they could get their hands on. They also looked at old manuscripts, travellers’ accounts and the writings of court historians and sufi saints, such as the 16th century historian Abd-ul-Qadir Bada’uni, for reference when it came to the ornate styling and layering of the looks.
“While working on the project, our sole aim was to create costumes that stay true to both the period and the director’s vision. Working on the project for almost two years, we revisited so many crafts and traditional embroideries throughout the in-depth research process and interactions with artisans, and used old-forgotten techniques or ones that are barely surviving in today’s time.”
The Delhi Sultanate was a vast empire - spanning in reach from Afghanistan to Kashmir and Punjab, Rajasthan, Sindh and areas bordering the Deccan, which gave the designers a liberty to explore various motifs from all these different regions and translate them into the costumes of Khilji.
“The Chinar Butti, stylized paisleys, Badaam Butti, Badaam Keri, Bathak Punj are used along with curvilinear motifs derived from sacred geometry — the moon and the star, Afghan, Mongol and Turkish elements to showcase the breadth and power of Khilji’s persona and the vast empire he amassed through various conquests and battles.”
Alauddin Khilji’s wife Mehrunissa (Aditi Rao Hydari)
Given Mehru’s nomadic Turkish origins, Rimple and Harpeet did a lot of research on the costumes and textiles of the belt, right from Afghanistan and the Khyber — Pakhtoon to Kazakhistan — to the central Asia belt around Turkey.
“Her transition from a tribal princess to the Queen of the Delhi Sultanate gave us the opportunity to come up with a melange of attire that was both rustic as well as royal. Her journey across the sun-kissed stark landscapes of pebbles, sand and stone to the palaces of Delhi, hues of the the desert sunrise and the inky blues and blacks of the desert night rendered a very strong colour pallete over which we juxtaposed various elements, motifs and techniques to establish both her odyssey as well as the vast empire she became the queen of.”