teri meri kahani
“Costumes lend reality to characters in a film” – Kunal Rawal
From Pathani salwars to hooded jackets and cargo pants, Kunal Kohli’s latest flick Teri Meri Kahaani presents Shahid Kapoor in three different styles of three different eras: – The classic street smart Javed of 1910, average Bollywood struggler of 1960s and the cool dude university boy of 2012.The actors’ new styles have been able to influence the male audiences across the country. Kunal Rawal, the renowned men’s designer and costume stylist for Shahid Kapoor in Teri Meri Kahaani said,“ After the film got released, I got several queries regarding number of fashion elements I have used in the film for Shahid’s three characters.
”Teri Meri Kahaani’s director Kunal Kohli had researched his characters well and was pretty clear about their dressing styles in his mind. “We used to have team meetings regularly, in which Manish Malhotra, Kunal Rawal, Deepika, Anirudh and the art directors used to have discussions about sets and costumes. We ensured that Deepika & Anirudh, who did costumes for the supporting casts and backgrounders, were also present at the meetings, so that they can also understand the theme clearly. This helped in presenting the casts look in sync with the lead actors,” added Kunal Kohli.“Kunal Kohli wanted to make his film look colourful and vibrant. So, we have used lots of bright colours in the movie in all eras but certainly in different tones,” tells Kunal Rawal.

Kunal Rawal styled Shahid in three different looks and here we find what went into his mind while styling Krish, Govind and Javed.

You styled Shahid kapoor for the first time, how was the experience?

It was a great experience. Shahid is one of the best-looking actors in the industry and a youth icon for many. He has a great physique that made things much easier for me.

How were you briefed about Javed, Govind and Krish?

Kunal Kohli briefed me about his characters. Ofcourse, I went through the script first, understood three different stories, different settings in different periods. Javed in 1910 is a very free character. He lives in his own world and is a Casanova until he falls in love. He is a tough guy with his sleeves always rolled up while Govind of 1960’s is a struggling musician and is an understated character. Krish of 2012 is like any other guy in today’s time, who is abroad studying and working part-time to earn pocket money. He is also a lazy character, likes to go with the flow. His personality comes across with the way he carries himself in the film. As a costume designer, I enjoy working in period movies. So through this film, I got the chance to do costumes for pre-independence era as well as for the golden era of Bollywood.

How did you decide on the looks for each of these characters?

It involved five stages of development. The first stage was learning about the characters, their traits, where they are from, where they are studying and other background details. The second step was to zero down on the character’s personalities and various situations he falls into. Third is the research part. At the fourth stage, we designed mood boards for each of the characters and last but never the least was creating the entire wardrobe for all three eras.

What research went in for styling the characters?

For 1910, Kunal Kohli was sure of not choosing the conventional cinematic representation of this era which is dull and muted. If we had followed the usual way, we would have ended up making this film look like a documentary. He wanted to make this era look more vibrant so that the love story looks full of life. Javed’s costumes were done in bright colours like green, red and royal blue but all in earthy tones to avoid giving it a gawdy look. In 1910, fashion was all about the fabrics, cuts one chooses to be in. People usually wore cotton clothes and got them stitched from local tailors and that is what exactly we did. All the Shahid’s pathanis and kurtas were in cotton fabrics and I got them from my darzi. I kept the silhouettes loose and big as it used to be in Northern India then. All his clothes were hand-stitched and I used natural vegetable dyes bought from local shops to make the colours look original. They were bright but had depth in them. I also made him wear hand stitched leather jootis.

For Javed’s look we took the inspiration from whatever pictures we managed to find out of those times, as not much information was available about the dressing of that era.

1960 – It is my favorite era because dramatic changes took place in Indian fashion. What was casually worn earlier then becomes fashion. Even, research on this era was easy as it was about bollywood in Bombay. Largely under British influence men without a hat and jacket was literally considered half naked. Suspenders were very popular and were on their way out. For the song ‘Uff’, I took reference from Shammi Kapoor’s style of dressing. Back then, tuxedo was like a black suit of today. Many actors then used to wear tuxedos. Hence, I made Shahid wear white tuxedo in that song.

2012- The look, which I gave to Krish in this time period, was casual and contemporary just like any student as they like to put things together in bits and pieces. They shop things from fashion streets like a pair of glasses, a shirt, cargo pants or jackets. I combined all of these and created an interesting look for Krish who wears cargos and tees worn with hooded jackets. Backpack, which Krish uses for his class, iPad, a pair of headphones and glasses added to his accessories. So this part was really easy as it belonged to the generation we live in.

How long did you take for research and styling and from where all you shopped or sourced the garments?

It took 3 months of researching and getting all the clothes together along with fitting sessions in pre-production. Most of the Shahid’s clothes in the movie were custom-made. Two or three things I picked up from the market such as the hat that I bought from a vintage store and suspender from chor bazaar in Mumbai. Accessories that have been used in 2012 era for Krish, were all bought from fashion streets in London while the ones used in 1910 for Javed, i.e jootis were bought from Chandani Chowk in New Delhi.

Costumes’ colors play an integral role in giving a film a desired feel and look. So for that, what coordination did you have to make with the art directors and DOP of the film?   

We used to have extra meetings with all the head of the departments. Colors of the costumes largely depend on the background used and what other characters are wearing. We used to share mood boards with art directors. For example, the 1910 era part was all shot in natural settings, surrounding lakes and trees so we used maximum natural light as possible. And this added to the charm on the depth of the colors.

Often films play a major part in setting fashion/look trend among youth. As a stylist and costume designer, how do you play around the fact? 

Indians are greatly influenced with Bollywood in terms of fashion. I think entertainment section is a big sector creating trends in fashion. After Teri Meri Kahaani, I have already started getting queries regarding the yellow hooded jacket that Shahid is wearing in the last scene, printed t-shirts, mojris (used in 1910), black pathanis and white tuxedos. The trend of suspenders is hitting back very strongly. While costume designing for a character in a film, I make sure that the character looks real and sync in perfectly into the scene. I believe, clothes should not make the character look odd one out and out of reality.

Costume design of Teri Meri Kahaani