Fashion designer Manish Malhotra visited Delhi earlier this week for costume preparations of musical play Mughal-e-Azam. The play directed by Feroz Abbas Khan will be staged from 6 April 2019 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Delhi. Manish Malhotra is the first designer to have marked his foray into musical theatres in India and was honoured by the Best Original Costume Design Award at Musical Broadway World India Awards.

Manish Malhotra has been designing costumes for movies and stars such as Kareena Kapoor, Kajol, Aishwarya Rai for 14 years now. He is currently designing costumes for upcoming film Kalank. In a candid chat with The Statesman, the ace designer spoke on a range of topics concerning the fashion scene in India.

Asked to comment on how fashion trends have evolved over centuries in India, and how he drew inspiration to design clothes for characters from the Mughal Era, the designer said, “It is not about what has evolved and how it has evolved, it is just that we keep going back for inspirations, isn’t it? The film Mughal-e-Azam was set in the backdrop of Mughal Era, what today is known as the period of the opulent and royal lifestyle. From the courtly pleasures, cutlery, royal baths, decor to the ways of dressing, everything had its own sense of greatness attached to it.”

About working on the structure and design of the costumes for the play, Malhotra said, “Mughal-e-Azam is very close to my heart. I have put in all the hard work in designing the costumes, which have to be ready for the primary and secondary cast at the same moment. There are layers of fabric, whether it is Kashmiri or Banarasi silk, kota, zardozi, embroidery, brocades, bandini, handloom and velvet; everything is pure and rich in the display.”

Spectators watching the play can expect authenticity of the era along with the signature touch of the ace designer on display. “Indian traditional attires like ‘chogha’, ‘anarkali’, ‘gararas’, ‘shararas’, ‘shalwar’, ‘churidar’ and ‘Achkans’ have been in fashion for centuries now. The 16th century has remained the period of great inspiration for Indian culture and there is no period like Mughal period. There is always a scope for some variations in the designs,” said Malhotra.

Commenting upon the challenges he faced during the production, he said, “Designing for celebrities, films and for fashion shows is entirely different from designing costumes for a periodical theatre play. The outfit has to be striking as well as stage-appropriate.”

Launched in 2016, the Mughal-e-Azam play will have its third season in Delhi. Asked if the audience will see any changes in the attires, Malhotra, who has been designing costumes for the play since 2017, remarked: “This time the audience will see our own interpretation of the Mughal style of fashion!”