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Neeta Lulla defends Pooja Hegde's look in Mohenjo Daro

The noted designer says that she designed the actor's look using materials that were available in ancient era.

Mayur Lookhar

A period film or a costume drama always presents a challenge for the costume designer. And if your project is a pre-historic film, with very little information available, then it doubles the difficulty level of the task. Having said that, the lack of concrete material also presents opportunities for a designer to use their creative sensibilities. 

History doesn't have evidence to show that men wore clothes during the Indus Valley civilization, that goes back 8000 years. Thus Hindi cinema's resident fashion designer Neeta Lulla found herself in an unusual predicament.
"I was given the entire brief in terms of research, the script. This is a film which you bring out with the perception and the vision of the director. In that time the only thing available was the image of the monumental dancing girl. If any, there was no visual of available garmentary in that era. So one had to work with your own creative sensibilities to create the world of Mohenjo Daro, to create a work that people can relate to," Lulla told Cinestaan.

As seen from the trailer, Hrithik and most men in the film are given impoverished costumes of a farmer. However, one was taken aback by the look and the costume worn by débutante actress Pooja Hegde. Well, we aren’t connoisseurs of couture, but ‘Chaani, the chosen one’ left us bewildered with her looks. The headdress studded with flowers and feathers looked more like exotic deer horns. The metal Mohenjo Daro badge perched on her forehead appears to be hinging on a string of sea shells. The green gem-like designs, that cover the cleavage, look more like tiny aquatic creatures feeding on a coral. 

Ruchika Sharma, an MPhil student from JNU who is specialising in Medieval Indian History, has slammed Pooja Hegde's look in Mohenjo Daro as a wrong depiction of Harappan women in so many ways.

 "The heroine Chaani, played by Pooja Hegde, has feathers popping out of her headdress even as none of the innumerable terracotta figurines of the Indus Valley Civilisation sport such a headdress. Feathered headdress is one of the quintessential ways in which Bollywood has for ages depicted tribal/clannish societies because in its Orientalist history, all tribal societies across time and space are the same. Chaani is tribal only in her headdress, though: her thigh-high slit skirt ensemble is straight from the red carpet," Sharma wrote in her article in Scroll.

Defending Hegde's look, Lulla said, "There is research to say that there was cotton, indigo dye available. It was a very evolved civilization. We heard a lot about accessories and embellishments. We used the raw contents and organic fabric, metals, flowers that were said to be available during that time. We amalgamated all of this to create the look of Chaani, which is also acceptable to today's audiences."

We leave it to the fashionistas to have the final say on Hegde's look. Before she signed off, we asked whether Kabir Bedi's horn crown was her creation ? The lady smiled and said a firm no.