The Making of a Begum

Behind the Scenes

The Making of a Begum

Illustration: Akshita Monga


ostumes are the first impression that you have of the character before they open their mouth. It really does establish who they are,” said Colleen Atwood, fresh from her “Best Costume Design” Oscar victory for Chicago in 2003. In that one quote, Hollywood’s most sought-after designer articulated the vital role that costumes play in any period drama – if dialogues are the melody of such films, the costumes then, are the harmony that binds it together in a cohesive style. According to Atwood, they are make or break.

Period films are always tricky. All it takes is one small detail to go awry for it to dive head first into disaster. Ashutosh Gowariker’s ambitious Mohenjo Daro is testimony to what brazenly inaccurate depictions of costumes (and plot holes the size of craters!) can do to a film. It’s not to say that the costume designer had not done his research, but he most likely figured out that when one could have Hrithik Roshan sport hipsterish bifurcated trousers and Lady Gaga-like headgear, then why choose the dull and faded drapes from a time gone by?