Christian Louboutin and Prabal Gurung discuss their bouts with Hindi cinema at MAMI

The always enjoyable Karan Johar hosted an entertaining talk on the merging of fashion and film with Louboutin, Gurung and actress Katrina Kaif at the 18th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival on 27 October.

Prabal Gurung and Christian Louboutin (Photos: Shutterbugs Image)

Sonal Pandya

Filmmaker Karan Johar opened the fashion and films panel at the 18th Mumbai Film Festival saying, “Fashion has played an integral part in my ethos, my thinking syntax and everything that I’ve ever done.” Johar defended the billion dollar industry saying, “It’s as creative as writing a screenplay. It’s just done in a form of a garment. You start with a thought, it builds into an idea, the idea transforms into beauty and the beauty then sells on a rack, just like all our movies do.” He went on to introduce each panellist and their own unique connection to Hindi cinema.

The panel consisted of French fashion designer and shoe god Christian Louboutin (who arrived a little late to the chat as he was stuck in traffic), Nepalese-American fashion designer Prabal Gurung whose creations have been worn by the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and actress Katrina Kaif who showed up at the talk in a striking red Prabal Gurung outfit.

(Photo: Shutterbugs Images)

Kaif, who’s known more for her casual personal style, spoke about giving more importance to costumes in films over the red carpets. “I would personally like to see the importance that we are seeing being given to dressing up to red carpet events, to functions, for movie premieres and the kind of designers and options you are given just to go to an event. You’re given an option of eight to ten gowns. I think some more of that importance should be given to the clothes we wear in the films. I think in your films, you do give a huge amount of importance to the style and the look and it shows.”

Johar then began by unveiling Gurung’s crazy love for Hindi cinema. He said that no one knows that after attending prestigious events like New York’ MET Gala, Gurung goes back home and dances his way to sleep on a Madhuri Dixit song! Gurung confirmed Johar's introduction by saying, “All the things he said are absolutely true, one hundred percent true and even more so. For me, growing up in Nepal and living in India, going to school here, I too believed that maybe if I fell in love and felt that euphoric feeling that there might be 50-60 backup dancers that will show up. All of a sudden it would rain. Or if I had a heartbreak, there might an orchestra with violins playing. What it did in hindsight, what Bollywood did for me was, it allowed me to dream the impossible dream [and] it allowed me to soar.”

Even while living in New York city, Gurung keeps up to date with Hindi cinema’s latest. He’s an unabashed Rekha and Sridevi fan and confessed he just taught his young niece the dance steps to Rekha’s ‘Salaame Ishq’ from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978). 

Similarly, Louboutin joined the chat, after entering fashionably late, and began telling the audience his tryst with Hindi cinema as a young boy. He began watching world cinema at a small cinema near his parents’ apartment in Paris and one of the first Hindi movies he saw was Mehboob Khan’s Aan (1952).

He said, “In French, it was called Mangala, Filles des Indes (Mangala, Daughter of India) and so that was the first one which I saw and I immediately fell in love with the entire movie — the story, the actors, the actress, the sets, the songs of course and then from that moment on, I would go to see different movies.” 

The French poster for Aan (1952)

Louboutin also believes cinema has inspired him greatly. “My journey with shoes started with a drawing which I ended up seeing in [Hitchcock’s Vertigo]. After seeing it, I really loved those 1950s period for costumes.” Johar pointed out that both their inspirations for their designs were decidedly retro.

Louboutin explained, “I think when you are dreaming and you like fashion in between all the films, you cannot be from your time period because otherwise it’s a thing that you see every day. So the inspiration isn’t coming from the past but your common vision of every day.”

For Gurung, inspiration is “a mix of things” from music to cinema. He said, “Any creative person whether it’s fashion, film or writing, we are a sum of imaginations, thoughts and experiences. My third or fourth collection was based on Miss Havisham’s character from the Great Expectations. I read that book and I remember her character was one thing that stuck to me.

Like Gurung, Louboutin is also a Sridevi fan. He revealed he’s also inspired by South Indian cinema and told a hilarious story of being cast in a Tamil film in Chennai as a young man. “The first time I went to India, I was 16. I wanted to go see Bollywood studios. In Chennai, we managed to go into a studio. I remember meeting a producer. At one point, I was asked to make part in a movie. There was a honeymoon scene, a couple was going to an exotic place in Europe.”

When the producers found out Louboutin was French, they asked him to be a part of the film. He didn’t want to be an actor, and they insisted don’t worry, you will be selling ice creams. He said, “I ended up being in a studio, there was a painting of the Eiffel Tower behind, they started dancing and at one point, I [offer] an ice-cream.” Johar implored the audience to find this hidden gem of a film. Louboutin too wondered what happened to that “historic scene”.

Kaif and Gurung talked about style and fashion bringing together cultures and transcending “man-made borders”. Johar marvelled at the fact of their distinct backgrounds and their shared love for Hindi cinema. The fashion and film discussion was the last panel which closed out the 18th Mumbai Film Festival. Eight days which held cinephiles’ rapt attention was brought to an end by Kenneth Lonergan’s closing film, Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler.

Read: Our clothes are always on point: Karan Johar on Manish Malhotra