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How Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh’s look in Padmavati was created

Here's a closer look at how designers Rimple and Harpreet Narula, over a period of a year and a half, created the costumes for Ratan Singh and Allaudin Khilji, based on Sanjay Leela Bhansali's vision. 

Suparna Thombare

Sanjay Leela Bhansali, this generation’s master at creating epic period dramas, is known for his attention to detail in every department of his films to make them stunning. Bhansali is especially particular about designs, fabrics and colours used to make his characters stand out and look authentic to the period. 

Bhansali, who has previously worked with the likes of Neeta Lulla (Devdas, Jodha Akbar) and Anju Modi (Bajirao Mastani), this time around decided to collaborate for the first time with designers Rimple and Harpreet Narula, whose label is known for rich couture outfits.

The task given was to create the royal looks of Padmavati’s three prime characters — Rajput ruler Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), his wife Rani Padmini (Deepika Padukone) according to legend and the most powerful ruler of the Khilji dynasty, Allaudin Khilji (Ranveer Singh).

The trailer and the first song makes it clear that Bhansali and the designers have left no stone unturned to make the characters look spectacular on screen. It took the team a year and a half to create over 150 outfits for its three main characters.

 The designer duo did intensive research on how the royal costumes might have been in the 14th century by studying various traveller's accounts, manuscripts and historical texts on the pre-Mughal period. 

While Shahid Kapoor’s turban is replicated after studying actual 16th century leheriya samples archived at UK’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Khilji's crowns or topis have been created after careful study of the Moorish and Ottoman Empire. 

A lot of other techniques have gone into creating the detailed looks that are reminiscent of the era and each look had numerous processes that were used to achieve the overall effect. 

Rimple and Harpreet Narula give an insight into what went into designing Ratan Singh and Allaudin Khilji's costumes for this Bhansali epic.

Ratan Singh

Shahid Kapoor's royal court looks were achieved after a period of intense research of 8 to 10 months, that involved visits to various museums and crafts clusters spread across Rajasthan.

The Calico Museum in Ahmedabad has a number of examples of garments that give us an idea as to how the pieces once might have been ornamented and used.

The dhotis, lungis, turbans and patkas were carefully studied, be it the fabrics that were used or the placements of the prints and embroideries.

We had to get the various shades and tones of royal dressing right. Usage of kasab or zari (gold and silver metal wires) was a favourite as a formal article on the court dress from the period.

We got specialist weaver's to develop the fabrics that are gilded with real metal wires. The gotta embroideries were specially commissioned to artisans in Nyla near Jaipur. The base textures thus developed were then layered on with other more ornate embroideries done in zari and badla, mukke ka kaam and pakko bharat techniques.

The formal court looks also have ornate turbans with gold leaf and foil printing layered over meticulously done resist dyeing and leheriya printing in a 24 colour setting, which were derived and replicated from actual samples of vintage turbans archived at the Victoria and Albert Museum (in London).

We had to get the various shades and tones of royal dressing right. In order to do so, our teams made various trips across Rajasthan studying murals, frescoes and wall paintings of various forts and havelis in Bundi, Udaipur, Kota and Nathdwara, along with samples of pichwais (intricate paintings which portray Lord Krishna) and other vintage textiles in the Calico and Jaipur museums.

Old archived samples of brocades of Aurangabad that we found in various museums were commissioned to various master weavers of today for replication. A lot of the embroidery and motif references came not only from the old clothing samples we could get our hands on, but also from the vintage textiles in the form of manuscript holders and covers, canopies, wall hangings and bichhonas.

The royal odhna he is wearing is crafted with hand done pitta embroidery done in Lucknow and further enhanced with metal tikki embroidery and gold mukke ka kaam. The turban is replicated after studying actual 16th century leheriya samples archived at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The angrakhas for Ratan Singh are made using organic cotton and malmal (muslin) fabrics that were prevalent back in the 13th century, keeping in mind the climate and geograpghy of Chittor. Traditional printing and embroidery were done on them by various artisan clusters in Rajasthan.

We had to get the distinguishing factors of the Rajput angrakha right in order to differentiate it from the Persian jama. The yokes were hand quilted by artisans in Bundi and Udaipur and it sometimes took upto 4-5 attempts to get the patterning right and close to the ones that we studied in the archives of the Calico museum.

Shahid has an inherent regal carriage to himself, an amazing body language and when he donned the angrakhas and robes, one felt as if we are actually seeing Rawal Ratan Singh brought to life in front of our eyes.

Alauddin Khilji

We wanted to create the look of an antagonist whom audiences would remember for a long time to come — an iconic cinematic character who befits Bhansali's grand vision.

According to the brief given to us by Bhansali in the initial phases of the project, we had to create costumes that bring out an aura of power and brutality that is being projected by Ranveer - the Invader/Sultan, as the royal costumes back in those days were regarded as evidence of power and stature in the nomadic tribes that Khilji hailed from.

Elaborate patterning and embellishment on the shoulders and arms were used to achieve the desired effect.

Khilji's colour pallet is decidedly dark and ominous given his tribal background and we have used very robust nomadic elements layered with different textures and fabrics to achieve a very rugged look that goes with the character's story arc.

Given Khilji's nomadic Turkish origins, we did a lot of research on the costumes and textiles of the belt, right from Afghanistan to Kazakhistan to the central Asia belt around Turkey.

Our own travels also came in handy as we have, over the years, collected samples of various old textiles such as suzanis and tapestries from flea markets and auctions, which were great reference points for getting the styling; the look and feel just right.

The sultan's crowns (topis) have been created after careful study of Moorish and Ottoman Empire royal dress and the exaggerated size are a reflection of his power and stature.

The topis are rendered in motifs derived from sacred geometry — the cosmic forces of the Sun and the Moon and other constellations, done in fine zardozi by master craftsmen in Lucknow.

An interesting embroidery material used back in the 12th-13th century, by these nomadic tribes, was iridescent Beetle Wings, which were embroidered along with the metal zari and badla wires to give a bejeweled look to the centers of floral buttis and jaal nodal points.

Our teams got special sequins developed to recreate the look and feel of this beetle wing embellishment, which we then used to give the topis and Khiljis woolen robes an ornate look.