August 1, 2011

Zubeidaa: Of Rajput and Vintage Glamor

Some posts are just meant to be written.

To do away with the enigma, ever since I have begun to blog, everything that I lately experience and witness deems itself to be blog-worthy! (Yes, call it a blogger-newbie excitement:) This holiday has been an interesting bagful of assorted experiences so far: accidentally stumbling upon an abandoned, moss-dressed house and watching a wonderful Kathak performance accompanied by Carnatic and North Indian classical instruments at NCPA in Bombay, talking to passengers of the Indo-Pak train service, Thar Express and witnessing a contemporary/ballet-traditional Rajasthani folk dance performance at Arna Jharna Desert Museum in Jodhpur, and discovering a sleek, uber-chic haveli-turned hotel in heart of old Jodhpur - all of which I hoped to blog about in greater detail only once I returned to Oman.

In the meantime, I have been indulging in shopping to my heart's content and decided to get a traditional Rajasthani poshak stitched this time round in lieu of purchasing a customary churidar-kameez/anarkali suit as an elegant - and Rajasthani! - alternative to special occasion (or what I call, Diwali-best) wear. I was trying to describe it to a friend and the most immediate visual reference that popped in my mind was Karisma Kapoor wearing the poshak in Zubeidaa, where she plays a Rajput princess. You can see only a bit of the poshak in this picture as Karisma is overloaded with so much jewelry; it is basically the traditional costume of women of the Rajput community in Rajasthan, consisting of a kanchli (inner-wear with sleeves), kurta (a sleeveless blouse), and flowing, pleated ghagra, or skirt.

Zubeidaa (2000, dir: Shyam Benegal) happens to be a great favorite of mine, perfectly mixing my interests: period cinema, vintage fashion, and Indian royalty in equal measures. The story of a high-spirited Muslim girl, Zubeidaa, living in pre-Independent India's Bombay and who dares to indulge in the otherwise then taboo dream of becoming an actress, she eventually marries a Rajput prince, Maharaja Vijayendra Singh of Fatehpur(Manoj Bajpai), known as Victor; Victor is purportedly based on the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh although the film obviously does not allude to real-life monikers/parallels - incidentally, the film was banned in Jodhpur upon release. However, Zubeidaa struggles to be allowed to retain her independence of thought and action in the strict, rule-bound Rajput royal household, which she shares along with her husband's first wife, Mandira Devi (Rekha) and eventually dies in a mysterious plane-accident alongside her husband. Her story is narrated through the perspective of her son from her first marriage, Riyaz (Rajat Kapoor), a journalist, attempting to make sense years afterwards of the enigma that was his mother. For trivia buffs, ex-Filmfare editor and director of films such as Fiza, Zubeidaa's writer, Khalid Mohammed literally wrote himself into Zubeidaa, Zubeidaa being his mother.

Apart from thoroughly inhabiting the role of Zubeidaa, Karisma Kapoor looks beautiful in her various style avatars throughout the film: a fresh-faced, starry-eyed school-girl, channeling 40s Bombay high-society glamor with meticulously styled hair and make-up and sophisticated saris, and lastly, a Rajput princess in traditional Rajput clothing.

Thinking to blog about Zubeidaa at some later stage, I then happened to chance upon today this image of Sonam Kapoor looking especially lovely in a divine sky-blue Manish Malhotra sari (a pleasant surprise as I am not particularly a MM fan)and Amrapali jewels at the India International Jewellery Week 2011:

It instantly reminded me of Karisma's Zubeidaa look in this picture:

Coincidence, much? And I found myself blogging about Zubeidaa, after all...! Needless to say, I love the way Sonam has been styled (word is that her sister, Rhea is the stylist) - the look just spells out vintage and I would love to experiment with the three-quarter sleeved blouse myself. what would be the perfect sari that will go along with it? And so another shopping quest begins!


  1. Sonam Kapoor's saree is just awesome!!!!

  2. @vivalahighstreet, thank you so much for visiting and hope to see you here again! And yes, it is *such* a gorgeously colored sari, isn't it? plus, *love* the way it has been styled!

  3. Hi! Great post! What would you call the shoulder to waist jewellery that Sonam has dawned?

    1. Thank you so much! A good question as to what Sonam is wearing- I am not exactly sure but it definitely looks like something what a princess or queen must have worn...a jewelry expert or historian would probably be best suited to answer this:) all that aside, it's such a gorgeous and unusual piece!


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