In an industry that is predominantly and glamorously visual, on-screen attire makes an imperceptible, yet dramatic difference on viewers. This list doesn't claim to be exhaustive or definitive. However, amongst the entries here are highly reputed and duly awarded films, that have brought their respective costume designers much fame. Few names which deserve mention but could not make it to the list involve Rudaali (1993), Lahme (1991), Lekin...(1990), Pestonjee (1987), and Trikal (1985). These selections are made based on the number and credibility of awards won by the film which may include
National Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, IIFA Awards, Bollywood Movie Awards, and Producers Guild Film Awards.
10. Parinati (1986)
Starring Surekha Sikri and
Nandita Das, this poignant tale tells of two greedy innkeepers who resort to robbery and murder after their son leaves to seek a better life. Costume designer Prabhat Jha was lauded thoroughly for the authenticity of the clothing used in the film, and subsequently went on to bag the National Film Award in the category.
Bandit Queen (1994)
The film that made
Shekhar Kapur a household name also garnered accolades for
Dolly Ahluwalia. Her work on the costumes exemplified the rugged and harsh realities of the people ravishing in the ravines of Chambal. Phoolan Devi may have won hearts, but the subtle acerbity of the costumes proved worth the while.
8. Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005)
This one scores a little unfavorably with the critics; however, this didn't stop
Anna Singh winning the National Film Award for creating breathtaking costumes in faithful accordance with the spirit of a period film.
7. Black (2005)
Sharing the honor with Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story at the 53rd National Awards,
Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the man behind the garments in Black, proved his worth as a costume designer par excellence. The muted, yet imaginative tone of clothes used in the film adds beautifully to the overall ambiance, thereby making Black, at an IMDb rating of 8.3, the best, critically speaking.
Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
Neeta Lulla, another prominent designer, put in painstaking detail to recreate the costume and jewelry of Mughal era in this second
Ashutosh Gowariker feature of the list. Jodhaa Akbar also went on to win a slew of other honors such as at the Filmfare and the IIFA Awards.
Bajirao Mastani (2015)
The third period-drama to gain entry here, this film made ripples for the intricate imitation of the Maratha regime.
Anju Modi, the lady behind the art of garb, has subsequently bagged numerous plaudits.
The Dirty Picture (2011)
To bring forth an embellishment of costumes with the perfect hues and tactile response,
Niharika Khan did diligent and accurate research into those times, not simply to appear original but also to contextualize the narrative, as was appropriate for an India of the 80s. Needless to say, the film garnered massive traction on its release.
3. Devdas (2002)
Again, Neeta Lulla steals the show. But this time, she's accompanied by
Sandeep Khosla, and
Reza Shariffi on her work on the emotional tale of a wealthy lover whose life plummets to a nadir as he turns to alcohol and an existence of immorality to alleviate his pain. The intense, melodramatic passion that the film trudges through, is captured flawlessly by the costumes worn on-screen.
2. Haider (2014)
Vishal Bhardwaj's masterpiece proved to be another feather in the cap of Dolly Ahluwalia, who captured the essence of the characters and their moods with creative flourish. The frigid spirit of Kashmir exuded through the fabric of cloth and script alike, as this feature blazed in glory, sweeping multiple awards at the Filmfare Awards, 2015 Screen Awards, and the IIFA Awards.
1. Lagaan (2001)
The first ever Indian Oscar was won by
Bhanu Athaiya. Though not for this film, Lagaan stands as one of her best works, after Gandhi. To beat the English at cricket is one thing, but to compete at an international level is an unparalleled feat by Ashutosh Gowariker. This 4-hour epic also happens to be the most critically acclaimed after Black, standing with an IMDb score of 8.2. Enough said?