Sending out a bunch of women in plain, cotton Kota saris, their pallus forming a ghunghat over their heads while ritualistic Rajasthani vocal wedding music played in the background suggested the age old practice of including women (mostly handmaidens of the princess) as part of the dowry. Photo: Manoj Verma
Sending out a bunch of women in plain, cotton Kota saris, their pallus forming a ghunghat over their heads while ritualistic Rajasthani vocal wedding music played in the background suggested the age old practice of including women (mostly handmaidens of the princess) as part of the dowry. Photo: Manoj Verma

The Twenties mindset

Raghavendra Rathore's show at the Aamby Valley Bridal Week in Delhi conveniently ignored the social sensitivities of contemporary India

Even if Raghavendra Rathore planned to link the idea he presented at the beginning of his bridal show with the rest of his collection at Aamby Valley Bridal week in Delhi on Thursday, it would have been inappropriate in the India of 2013. Sending out a bunch of women in plain, cotton Kota saris, their pallus forming a ghunghat over their heads while ritualistic Rajasthani vocal wedding music played in the background suggested the age old practice of including women (mostly handmaidens of the princess) as part of the dowry. These were not “model-like" ladies and were shown as ‘ordinary’. Their unostentatious garb, absence of jewellery and footwear left no ambiguity about the class they belonged to. Ostensibly, the collection was inspired from the India of the Twenties. Only a Twenties mindset could have rationalised presenting in this day and age the class cleavage during the Raj when the English ruled us and Indians royals ruled those who served them. Inappropriate in today’s social milieu with raging debates on class, caste and gender sensitivities of new India, this was more than disappointing. It was a poorly chosen metaphor as it didn’t even get thematically linked to the rest of the story. There was nothing in the collection that could be called bridal or indicative of ceremonial pomp that coursed through lavish royal Indian weddings of the 1920s.

Raghavendra Rathore and Anil Kapoor. Photo: Manoj Verma

Embellished jackets, kurtas and ensembles might be a simplistic way to symbolize “glory days of the Raj" but we need to do more than embroidering pretty velvet and jazzy jacquard to make the point. Black stockings with draped silhouettes for women and silken suits for men, including a blood red top to toe set (jacket and trouser) with parrot green socks is hardly international red carpet.

The high point of the show—and the only one—was Anil Kapoor as the showstopper, looking fitter and more cheerful than most young Bollywood heroes. A total delight.

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