For Bollywood’s many fashionistas, a rite of passage has now become donning a Manish Malhotra original on the red carpet of a film premiere or an overseas awards show. Be it Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at last month’s Indian Independence Day celebrations in Melbourne, or Alia Bhatt and Katrina Kaif at this year’s International Indian Film Academy Awards in New York. If it’s a high profile event, then Malhotra is a mere call way.
The designer in question doesn’t bat an eyelid when talking about his celebrity pals, which isn’t amiss considering several of them are also entrusting him with the career launch of their respective sons and daughters — here’s looking at you Jhanvi Kapoor.
Malhotra agrees the pressure is very high these days to look your best, especially since social media and camera phones are making everybody fashion critics.
“Although, I don’t understand this whole airport look nonsense. That really is taking things too far,” he admits.
Quiz the designer to pick his firm favourites in Bollywood over the years and he doesn’t hesitate, describing the work ethic and their fashion sense:
Alia Bhatt: What I like about Alia is what I like about Kareena [Kapoor Khan]. They wear very cool, expensive clothes but they are not really sworn into it. The garment doesn’t overpower them. It keeps their personality intact. Plus, I am particularly fond of Alia because she is a thorough professional and very respectful.
Kareena Kapoor Khan: She’s one who takes it all with fun and humour. Even if she’s wearing a really heavy outfit, her walk won’t change. She’s just confident and all charm. I really like her. I like people who are themselves.
Karisma Kapoor: She’s quieter. Her struggle is more. We worked so much together. We are two people who wanted to make a mark and we did. She is very hardworking. I am a lot like her.
Kajol: She is somebody who is herself. It is just recently that she’s been paying attention to what she’s wearing, which is great.
Sridevi: When I worked with her, she was a top star. And we are still working today. She’s intelligent of her craft and her fashion moves with time.
Designing for Gen Next
Talking about working with the next generation of budding Bollywood hopefuls, be it Jhanvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan (daughter of Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh) or Ananya Pandey (Chunkey Pandey’s daughter), Manish Malhotra says: “They are all stunning: Jhanvi, Sara and Ananya. I do feel protective about them. I just want to tell them, nothing can happen without hard work and progress.
“In fact, I feel a lot of us who meet today, like Sridevi, Karisma [Kapoor], Kajol, Shilpa Shetty, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, we feel we are the ones who survived. There are very few of us there who are busy and relevant. There is that certain unsaid bond when we meet. I have experience that I want to share and help the next generation with.”
Did you know?
The one celebrity that Manish Malhotra is itching to style Hollywood legend Meryl Streep. He says: “I am an absolute fan. I would love to design for her someday.”