Is Ranveer Singh our Lady Gaga? Befikre star's zany sense of style is just as inimitable as he is
When it comes to film stars, every generation has its own poster boy or girl.
These icons craft a statement every time they step out in public and when it comes to this era, perhaps there couldn't have been a greater influencer than Ranveer Singh. The man has one of the zaniest sartorial attitudes out there and seems as comfortable in a skirt as he would be a pair of shorts or a tuxedo. Just when you think he can't wear anything more outré, Ranveer simply goes out there and raises the bar.
A few days ago, Singh was seen wearing something that could not be categorised under most known categories. Even though what he was wearing could be put anywhere on the scale of 'what-the-he**-was-that' to 'wow-!-what-he**-was-that' depending on what you consider the dernier cri, there is no denying that when it comes to Ranveer Singh — like Coco Chanel — the star does not do fashion, he is fashion.
For better or worse, Hindi film stars have had a stronger influence on popular fashion than what the gurus would like to believe.
In the mid-1990s when Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) released, a single five-minute song from the film, 'Didi tera devar deewana' where Madhuri Dixit was draped in a purple satin sari, suddenly made it one of the most sought after colours during the year's wedding season. Similarly, in the 1970s not just men but also women dressed up in the fabled ‘guru’ kurtas that Rajesh Khanna popularised. Crafted by Baldev Pathak, who designed Khanna’s costumes till 1979, the guru kurta was a rage and Pathak’s store, Shrimaan Costumes, once sold over 2,000 pieces following the release of a film. Although today, this might not be the case as fashion has not only become more accessible but also more individualistic, a star's influence on how a generation might want to dress up cannot be diminished.
Films create their own universe and within that nothing operates, as it ought to. Least of all fashion. Such is the idea of an image that at times it becomes almost impossible to know what came before — the image or the reality.
Take for instance Raaj Kumar. The actor used to be impeccably dressed in a suit or a sports jacket whenever he made public appearances in the 1960s, much like the characters he played — suave and unhurried. But by the 1980s he started wearing dressy velvets and such and similarly, the characters he played also mirrored the same. But try as hard as he could, one could not be caught dead emulating the off-screen Raaj sahab in real life. Similarly Dev Anand went from being one of the most admired when it came to fashion both on and off-screen in the 1950s and 1960s — how many could make a modest black sherwani with a fez hat (Kala Pani) or an overcoat (Solva Saal) look heavenly with equal ease — to being someone who dressed like a patched up sofa made from leftovers swatches in the 1980s and 1990s. Like a Dev sahab, Jackie Shroff's style both onscreen and off was one of the most replicated ones in the 1980s and unlike the later evergreen star, who incidentally ‘discovered’ Shroff as well, he never ‘lost’ it.
One of the reasons why Shroff became a style icon for many young men could have something to do that the timing of his debut. Shroff, like Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Kumar Gaurav, and Anil Kapoor, was the next generation of actors who perhaps appealed more to the newer, and much younger audiences in the first half of the 1980s. Their immense popularity notwithstanding, the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, and Dharmendra were beginning to be seen as the older lot and it is here that Shroff truly stood out. He was the pucca non-hero material who emerged from absolutely nowhere — he was first seen as Shakti Kapoor's sidekick in Dev Anand's Swami Dada (1982) and had done a wee bit of modeling — and transformed into a star. Shroff broke many barriers and this was not limited to pulling off a yellow shirt or such. He was also probably the first male Hindi film star to pose in Speedo. Some things once seen never leave you even if seen for the briefest of moments! But there was more to Shroff when it came to being a style maker than prancing in Speedo. While Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan would be limited to inspiring legions of fans to change their hairstyle the moment he sported a new one, Shroff could drape a Bandhani dupatta like a scarf, in Tridev (1989) and make it a trend. Later in the 1990s he popularised Bandhani shirts too post-Rangeela (1995). He was also one of the first of the new age stars to go ethnic as well where he would make public appearances in a crisp white dhoti-kurta.
Usually one would imagine the most popular star of the day to be the one whom people would try to replicate but this might not be entirely true. While Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi would be considered the biggest fashionistas of the 1970s it was a Jaya Bahaduri who changed trends with her puffed sleeve blouses and Vidya Sinha who epitomised the common chic. Even in the 1980s, it was Deepti Naval who probably inspired — more than Shabana Azmi or Rekha or any other top actress of the era — the average viewer’s real-life dressing.
Much like Shroff in the 1980s, it was Akshay Kumar in the 1990s who became the trendsetter as opposed to the far more popular Aamir Khan or Salman Khan. Later, (towards the mid and late 1990s when the Shah Rukh Khan juggernaut was at its peak) Kumar's sway when it came to making style statements remained unparalleled. In a sense, it was Kumar's ability to wear something as outlandish as a patterned sweater along with black shorts and pose for a photo shoot and yet not be laughed out of the market that was so noteworthy. It was Akshay Kumar who in all likelihood also made the ponytail an acceptable thing for men after he flaunted one in the song 'Zehar hai ki pyar hai tera chumma' in Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995). The same film also had Kumar wearing green pants — up until then something that most heroes would avoid — and along with Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar (1993), Kumar's contribution in popularising the part-fabric-part-denim jeans remains peerless. Kumar's song, 'Gore gore mukhde pe kala kala chasma' in Suhaag (1994) sums up his ease with being made to wear anything and not only be able to carry it off but also making it a fashion statement of sorts. It wouldn't be incorrect to say that like Ranveer Singh today, Kumar back then could even make the puffy shirt in Seinfeld okay.
The one common thread amongst all those who ever made any style statement is not only they were comfortable with what they did but also knew themselves. When asked about her being a fashion icon, Jaya Bachchan still believes that she was just being Jaya. She says, "I thought other actors were fashion icons," and reiterates that doing anything that did not come naturally to her seemed unacceptable.
When it comes to Ranveer Singh, the mix of energy, quirkiness, and his sartorial sense make him imitable. He is to us perhaps what Lady Gaga is to the world. Like the pop diva, Ranveer affirms that he is not interested in wasting his time to change anyone else’s opinion with every single thing he does. The man's got style and like Orson Welles said — style was knowing who you were, what you wanted to say, and not giving a damn — especially when it comes to wearing whatever that he wore or well, didn't.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2016 10:29:20 IST