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Costume Design in Indian Films: A Changing Scenario

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Vandana Jaglan


Costumes reflect our personality. The term costume can refer to wardrobe and dress in general, or to the distinctive style of dress of a particular people, class, or period. When we talk about costumes, it has three P’s attached to it, People, Place and Period.

One of the more prominent places people see costumes is in theatre, film and on television. In combination with other aspects, theatrical costumes help actors portray characters’ age, gender role, profession, social class, personality, and even information about the historical period/era, geographic location and time of day, as well as the season or weather of the theatrical performance. These are representational costumes. Costume Design is one of the important building blocks in the film or theatre, be it in any country. Costumes help to portray a character to an audience and thus, needs to be authentic and well-suiting to the actor playing the role.

The study focuses on the Costume Design in the Indian Films and talks about the trend analysis and technical details of the process of Costuming. The Indian film industry is one of the biggest and oldest in the world (Mazumdar, 2007). Of the various regional industries, the one based in Mumbai has the highest national profile and greatest global appeal (Dwyer and Patel, 2002). In the year 2000, in order to meet the challenges of the fast changing media scene a seismic shift took place in government economic policy to relax restrictions on private enterprise. One of the major policy initiatives has been the granting of the ‘Industry Status’ to the Entertainment Sector (which includes the Film Sector). Institutional finance and other facilities are now available to the Sector. Thus, it entails the exploratory study of different genre of Indian films (Bollywood) like commercial, art and period specific etc.

Through review of literature, it is also seen that there is an emerging scenario of commodity consumption in costuming industry in films television which includes use of brands and their products to add value to the scene. It may not be authentic in portrayal of the characters and questions the traditional costuming industry set up. It is therefore imperative to develop a well-coordinated and useful model of the future costuming industry which is resourceful and progressive and in nature.

The Indian Costuming industry is very old yet lacking in innovations and organisation to develop as a specialised industry. The chief sources for ready-to-wear film costumes have historically been dresswalas (costume supply shops), each with their own tailoring staff, that keep on hand a large stock of items for rent, such as military uniforms and dance costumes. The study thus aims on suggesting the tools and techniques to aid in the working system of the costuming industry in India.


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This Work, Costume Design in Indian Films: A Changing Scenario, by zbeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license.