English Vinglish is among the most heartwarming movies I’ve seen recently and Sridevi’s performance was real, moving and tear-inducing. And the lucky leading lady has had the chance to wear Sabyaschi Mukherjee on-screen for the first time. (He wasn’t The Big Thing during her heydays).
As Shashi Godbole, Sridevi’s costumes are apt, true to the character and take her through the most exciting journey in her life. The clothes bind Shashi and set her free, they blend her into the crowd and make her stand out.
Shashi Godbole is a typical Maharashtrian housewife- she puts family before self, loves making laddoos and has simple tastes. Sabyasachi and Gauri Shinde (the director) have underplayed the clothes in the movie, but if you’re an avid fashion buff, you’ll see the fashion arc as the story progresses.
Shashi Godbole is not a fashion follower nor is she ostentatious, so you won’t see her in sequins (not even on the wedding day) or low-cut blouses. On a typical day, she prefers cotton saris with a border and Indian hand-woven motifs or prints. Her colours are carefully chosen Indian palette: blues, greens, pinks, maroons. No Yashraj-style shaded saris or flowing georgettes- she is about sensible dressing, not sensuality. Hence the hanky curled in her hand at all times, and the long choti (plait).
In bed, she wears light cotton saris (like the one below)- mostly white ones with small prints. I remember seeing my grandmom wearing those kind of saris almost everyday, they kept her cool in hot and humid Mumbai and seemed to be easy to drape.
Sridevi in New York
Once in the US, Sridevi begins to experiment a bit. It’s her way of looking good in a big city where she is an obvious misfit because of her clothes and language problems. Some interesting pieces from the NYC wardrobe:
· Tiny Indian-style checkered saris with contrast borders (one sari has multiple borders)
· Bolder colours and prints for the days she’s happy (I spotted a couple of Sabyaschi’s standard prints- like this one below).
· Playing with textures- a single sari has a hand-spun cotton pallu and pleats with a lighter hued body that could be in cotton silk.
Sridevi imitates Elizabeth Taylor
The trench-coat-over-sari picture that you’ve probably seen in the publicity stills is the only style statement in the film with a story behind it. While shopping in India, Sridevi tries on a trench coat at a mall, only to be mocked at by her husband. In New York, she watches The Last Time I saw Paris in which the elegant Elizabeth Taylor wears a trench coat. Out steps Shashi, wearing a trench coat, in the peak of summer, right under the blazing sun. It’s a liberating moment for Shashi, and if you’ve ever been told what not to wear by someone, you will know exactly what it feels like.
In true Maharashtrian style, Shashi dons minimal jewellery, wearing what most married Indian women wear- mangalsutra, thin gold bangles, gold baalis and tiny studs. Sometimes there’s a thin black watch, and of course there’s a bindi.
Shashi’s handbags are Hidesign’s Estelle and Arno- functional as multi-purpose bags to store a dozen things, including some stationery for English class. 🙂