Recently, a Page 3 article in a leading Indian newspaper reported how girls had overcrowded a famous designer’s outlet in Mumbai to buy similar lehengas as the one worn by Drashti Dhami in the TV soap opera “Madhubala.”
Is this the way trends are fast evolving in the Indian fashion industry where garments worn by actors in TV serials the previous day have to be a ‘must have’ possession in the closet the next day? Are the hugely popular TV shows tools for designers to showcase their designs and increase marketability?
Well, if statistics are any indication, this is absolutely true. It is a foregone conclusion that a cable connection is all that matters to change the Indian perception of culture, customs, apparel, traditions, and sometimes even behavioral patterns. Amid all this, the major impact of the invasion of TV shows in Indian homes is undoubtedly the way people are perceiving contemporary fashion. Anandi’s Chaniya Choli largely influenced by Rajasthani designs and motifs, Sanaya Irani’s colored suits that are uniquely mismatched, and daring baring midriff by Jennifer Wingett have all slowly but surely crept in as fashion statements, ludicrous or extraordinary as they may appear. The way Indian fashion,Indian saree,Saree,Salwar Kameez, Anarkali suit,Punjabi suit,latest fashion and contemporary outlook have all integrated together through the influence of TV serials is simply awesome and astonishing.
When Mihir died in ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi,’ literally the entire country mourned his death. Going back in time, ‘Hum Log’ the original precursor of these soap operas in the indian television industry during the 1980s when television was fast going into the boom mode held captive nearly a million viewers every evening during its transmission time. Then came Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’ and B.R. Chopra’s ‘Mahabharat,’ which catapulted these shows to the point of being worshipped where incense sticks would be burned in front of TV sets prior to their transmissions. These operas were more in the genre of stories that would be appreciated by all without having any direct impact on the cultural and societal preferences of the viewers. Two decades down the line, and everything has changed drastically in the Indian TV industry. Come 8 P.M., and most homes have their TV sets switched on for viewers to experience the lives of the characters in the serials as if they were their closest kins. Recent serials have now started delving more into bolder storylines with contemporary twists and turns to the much hyped straight-faced romance shows. Characters playing these roles need to portray a bold image sometimes, and the way they dress showcase their internal conflicts through external manifestations. People watching these soaps try to emulate these characters, not only in the way they behave, but the way they dress to try and portray their varying moods.
Let us look at some of the more famous shows on TV and see how they have impacted the Indian fashion industry.
1.Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai
This is a sitcom that essentially features a wealthy, upper-class family in Cuffe Parade at South Mumbai. The dresses worn by Indravadan Sarabhai and his wife Maya as well as their children Rosesh, Sahil and his wife Monica are closely followed by everyone. Especially fascinating is the demure look that Monica wants to portray in front of her in-laws through sarees worn the traditional way with a bindi on her forehead. Most Indian housewives in that age group have been influenced by the way Monica dresses.
2.Itna karo na mujhe pyaar
This soap opera deals with the challenges faced by a divorced couple in their relationship. It revolves around Dr. Nachiket Khanna and his estranged wife Ragini Patel, and their children Suhani, Ogham and others, adopted and natural. Of particular interest is the dresses worn by Ragini, especially her designer sarees and salwar suits that portray her various emotions and moods.
3. Pyaar ka dard hai mitha mitha
This story revolves around Pankhuri and Aditya. Pankhuri is a small time village belle who believes in marriage as an institution, while Adi is a city man who doesn’t have much faith in the strength of relationships. The colorful sarees worn by Pankhuri with matching bangles are a craze among young girls these days. The crisp cotton white shirts worn by Adi have also started finding favor with young men after a long time, since these shirts were considered to be more relevant to the older generation.
4.Yeh rishta kya kehlata hai
This show tries to focus on daily incidents and happenings of an Udaipur family, the Singhanias. It involves a young couple, Naitik and Akshara, who are a part of a Marwari joint family. It portrays their relation, bond and love that they share for each other. The sky blue sarees worn by Akshara with matching blouses and the maroon colored shirts worn by Naitik are fashion statements in most Indian households these days.
5.Yeh hai mohobatein
This is a story about Raman and Ishita who share deep love for Ruhi, Raman’s daughter. The maroon sarees and mustard-colored blouses worn by Ishita during some shows have made this color combination immensely popular in Indian households.
6.Kasauti zindagi ki
This is a star-crossed romantic story about Anurag and Prerna. Anurag gets married to Komolika under pressure from his mother, but his love for Prerna is absolute. All the clothes worn by the lead actors are closely followed, especially the vampish outfits worn by Komolika and the bright-colored salwar suits and Punjabi suits worn by Prerna.
7.Sasural simar ka
It tells the story of two sisters Simar and Roli who are very close to each other. They marry two brothers and start living in the Bharadwaj household. Both sisters wear bright-colored sarees and salwar suits matching their age group which are immensely popular among girls of that age.
This soap opera was transmitted from 2007 to 2010 on Star Plus channel. Sadhana and Ragini were cousin sisters who initially lived together and then Ragini got married to Alekh who had mental health issues though Sadhana got close to him. The outfits worn by both Sadhana and Ragini were a craze during the time the TV show was being aired.
9.Meri Aashiqui tumse hi
The story is set in Mumbai where Ranveer is the son of a driver who loves Ishaani for whom he works. He is forced to play the role of a matchmaker between Chirag and Ishaani, and the story unfolds thus. The modern dresses worn by Ishaani in floral prints and the navy suits worn Chirag have influenced most TV viewers who try to copy the chirpy and formal looks when needed.
This is the eternal love story between Emperor Akbar and his faithful wife Jodha. Their period costumes are not relevant to the fashion industry of the present time, though sometimes these apparels, at least something similar to them, are worn during marriages.
People continue to be obsessed with daily soap operas, especially the apparels worn by the lead characters. There was a period when Sudha Chandran’s long and snake-like bindis would be worn by many after she wore them in some serials. The Anarkali type suits are quite popular these days as a direct impact of similar suits worn by dancers in the serial Jodha Akbar. The vampish look of Komolika with her tube top and sari combination and her backless blouses have brought these styles into the mainstream of fashion. Her eye lining that makes her look dramatic, and the bindi combination is also extremely popular with younger women. These soap operas are not only influencing the fashion industry in India, but are also leaving their indelible stamps on countries like Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, U.K., USA-in fact wherever they are transmitted. What impact these shows will have on the future of Indian fashion industry is still unknown, though suffice it to say that they will always continue to influence fashion among the younger generation in one way or the other.