The Ram-Leela Style guide

The film Ram Leela may have its faults but style-wise it’s a winner. Designer Anju Modi has created some wonderful costumes and the film is full of inspiration for fashion lovers so add some desi-girl vibrancy to your wardrobe this season.

1. The gaghra-choli
The decision to dress Deepika entirely in gaghra-cholis may have been based on authenticity but, all of a sudden, the Gujrati signature costume has never seemed more desirable. Our tailors, bodies and sensibilities may not be able to cope with the sexy, backless cholis Leela wears in the movie but, with less revealing blouses, this is a trend that is going to have wings. Expect to see multiple versions of the lengha-choli at every wedding for the forseeable future.

Deepika Padukone - Ram Leela Style guide - patchwork blouse
This patchwork blouse has gorgeous detailing

Leela’s patchwork blouses were gorgeous. Banarsi fabrics in various colours were placed against silk and cotton. Dabka, zari, mirror work were used on different patches. The play of colours, textures and embroidery was sublime and this is a technique that should translate well to kameezes.

3. Mirrors
Mirror work is set for a comeback. The costumes in Ram Leela use mirror work in a variety of different ways. A subtle mirror edging to an off-white blouse works just as well as mirror work enhancing colourful embroidery. Get inspired and use mirrors as an unusual accent for formal wear.

4. Rang-barsey
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s love of vibrant colours is infectious. The delicious reds, oranges and pinks of Leela’s wardrobe popped on the screen. The film is awash with flamboyant colour schemes. Leela’s mustard yellow opening scene outfit, the classic red and black of her holi outfit, the stunning red lengha she wears for the Nagada song are all striking examples of how to wear colour.

Deepika Padukone - Ram Leela Style guide
The vivid colours in Ram Leela pop on the screen

5. Hand-loom
You can’t watch Ram Leela and not be seduced by the fabulous drape of the outfits. Designer Anju Modi has mostly used a cotton gauze mulmul for the lenghas,  a fabric that is difficult to find in Pakistan. Mulmul has a more open texture than lawn and falls very differently. Mulmul is traditionally hand woven and holds its structure well. Pakistanis tend not to consider cotton as a formal fabric but Indian designers have long embraced it. Anju Modi pairs cotton with silk borders, silver work printing, embroidery and more in Ram Leela. The effect is exquisite. Pakistanis aiming to get the look should aim to use lightweight handloom cotton, which is most likely to give the desired effect. Check out designers like Fahad Hussayn and Sadaf Malaterre who incorporated cotton outfits in their PFDC L’Oreal Bridal week collections

6. The layered lengha
The best lenghas or gaghras are all about volume. Layering can enhance this but Anju Modi shows how layers can be used to add texture and colour as well as volume. The details aren’t visible in this picture but the heavily embroidered top layer of the red lengha has a longer printed underlayer layer. There is a further contrasting layer underneath while a slit in the top layer accentuates the pretty print of the second layer. Poetry in motion.

This layered lengha has a printed second layer

7. Mix and Match
Matchy-matchy outfits look so dated. One of the best things about the costumes in Ram Leela was they way Anju Modi threw together contrasting colours and textures, For example, Deepika’s outfit for the Ishquiyan Dishquiyan song pairs a navy cotton lengha with a colourful patchwork blouse and a hot pink silk dupatta. Another outfit contrasts soft blues and greens with an elegant chai pink. This trend is the perfect way to give traditional embroidery an edgy feel.

8. The twist
This is a day-to-night hair trend that’s already everywhere. Hair is twisted at the front and then held back in a loose braid or a bun. The effect is spontaneous, elegant and sexy. See it at mehndhis and dinners and even at the school gate.

9.  Pleated jackets
These were actually a menswear item in the film though I can’t imagine any man I know wearing them. There was something uber-styilish about the jackets though and they would look great on a woman in jeans. It’s not necessary to exactly replicate the style but a pleated off-white jacket with a pop of colourful ethnic embroidery is on my winter wardrobe wish list.

This pleated jacket is super cool

Leela is much cooler than traditional Sanjay Leela Bhansali heroines and she doesn’t drip with jewellery. Instead a few striking pieces accent her look such as one huge ring or some statement hanging earings. The Amprapali earings Leela wears have been selling like hot cakes. Similarly the huge earings on Deepika in the promo pics for the movie have become an internet sensation with various websites offering their own versions.

Deepika’s Amrapali earrings

Pakistani designers are already up to speed with some of the trends highlighted in Ram Leela. PFDC L’oreal Bridal Week saw floral lenghas, sexy cholis and cotton lenghas – perfect for anyone wanting to channel Ram Leela in the upcoming wedding season.

Deepika almost looks like she’s wearing Fahad Hussayn here


Published in the Express Tribune‘s regular Karachista column on 19th November 2013

Copyright 2015 Karachista. All rights reserved
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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  1. Hi Salima,

    Thanks for all the images, and style explained. As you mentioned for Pleated jackets you can see actual villagers wearing these kind of clothes in n around junagadh in Gujrat and may be Kutch also. As my parents native place is a small village near junagadh I use to spend my vacation there so I have seen villagers wearing those kind of clothes n accesaries.


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