The Kalank Closet

The Kalank Closet

The costumes in Abhishek Varman’s upcoming love story set in pre-Partition India may not be authentically reminiscent of that era but the film’s promotional outings and teasers promise style rich moments


Densely hand-worked Kashmiri shawls, embroidered shararas paired with short kurtis and diaphanous dupattas, opulent jewellery on city billboards put out by a top jewellery brand, a fashion magazine cover with all three female stars on it, Instagram posts by one of India’s most known bridal designers and twinning ensembles for the film’s romantic pairs at pre-release events… Kalank’s promotional spin is fashionised with finery and flair. Multiple brand collaborations too.

Whether it brings in those pompous crores or not, whether it alters the way we think about period dramas in Hindi cinema or not, the Dharma Productions film by Abhishek Varman, to be released mid next week, makes a stylish promise going by its trailers and posters.

Starring Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha and Aditya Roy Kapur, and billed as a love triangle set in pre-Independence India, its promotional branding may have already stoked the butterfly anxieties of the What to Wear Next Addict. What to buy next, how to wear what to buy next, which hairstyle to adopt for the next wedding, which ornaments to lust for next, how to look enviably haute when next on Instagram. Kalank can give you a Next Fix.


Photo: Instagram/bazaarindia

Sonakshi Sinha, Madhuri Dixit, Alia Bhatt on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar India’s 10th anniversary issue, in March.

Fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar India put Dixit, Sinha and Bhatt on its 10th anniversary cover in March, aptly titled Fabulous at Every Age. The cover lines were in red. Red is the reigning hue of the film’s creative imagery. Going by recent bill boards, jewellery brand Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ) is blaring out its ‘Collection K’ in association with the female cast in Kalank–read sparkling maang tikkas, multi layered polka necklaces, large, bountiful earrings. Or What-to-Wear-to-The-Next-Wedding” stuff. Designer Manish Malhotra, a long term Dharma Films friend and associate, has been posting about the “souzni and zardozi embroidery” on Dixit’s costumes on his Instagram page. He also sent the six stars out in colour coordinated outfits for the film’s teaser release in March. Whites for Dhawan and Bhatt; blacks for Dutt and Dixit; reds for Roy Kapur and Sinha. Malhotra has styled Madhuri in the film and the block printed lining under her Kashmiri odhnas are a lovely detail, but is he the costume designer of the entire film? That information is not available, oddly enough for a film whose “look” defines its current karma.


Photo: Twitter/KaranJohar

A still from the film Kalank.

Barring some Kashmiri crafts creations, a couple of Dixit and Dutt’s shawls, Bhatt’s embroidered ensembles, the trailer and teasers of the film or the photos that surge amidst the mix of 96.1 K posts with #kalank on Instagram reveal fuss and flamboyance. How authentic it is to the style of the era the story is set in, only the film will tell.

What we see so far is well-styled Indian couture that may be less reminiscent of pre-partition India, but is more inspired by the wedding couture industry of today. The borders on Sinha’s embellished saris bring back a flash from the “Hindi telly” look that rode India After 2000; Dixit’s tangy-orange Anarkali from the song Tabah Ho Gaye with gold embroidery is doused with Devdas style déjà vu. The jewellery marketed as ‘Collection K’ is pretty alright but it is the kind that surfaces every few years when a historical drama unfolds in Bollywood, the most influential jewellery institution of India. And in that league, most may agree it is not half as stunning as what went around during Padmaavat or Bajirao Mastani.

“Royal” necklaces, stacks of assorted precious bangles, large nose ornaments and multi-coloured rings—more from the “more is more” filmi stable. Dhawan’s kurtas show chikankari embroidery but it is not engrossingly fine. Alia Bhatt’s red wedding outfit looks ravishingly “designer” instead of nostalgically vintage. Every star, male and female has burgundy-mahogany-honey-amber hair highlights. Very Nineties to Now.


Photo: Twitter/KaranJohar

A still from the film Kalank.

Yet, there are some highly style-rich flashes in the film if the teasers are leading us right. And all stars look good.

Red may be the defining hue of the film’s promotional blitzkrieg but the winning aesthetic story lives in black and white. Alia Bhatt’s white shararas with gossamer dupattas and what appear to be crocheted lace on the edges is a delight—resplendent in the way it conveys white hot desire. On the other are Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit’s black outfits—the starkness with which they have been grouped with other elements of their looks is a style tip. A black raw silk sherwani with large buttons and a shawl on the shoulder for Dutt and a kurta-salwar and dupatta with embroidered yoke and lace edges for Dixit.

Unsolicited advice for Next Fix Addicts: Find a stunning white dupatta with crocheted lace edges and make it your K piece for summer. Start browsing for a black, needle embroidered Kashmiri shawl for the “next” season. It will be for K-eeps.

Banner image: a still from Kalank.