When Nachiket Barve’s name was announced as the winner of the National Best Costume Award for ‘Tanhaji‘ a few months ago, I have to say, I was completely nonchalant about it. It was the most obvious choice, not only starring Ajay-Devgn and Saif Ali Khan was the biggest movie of 2020 (and there haven’t been any major movies since), Barve’s costumes were just copies, they should be part of the history books too.
Last weekend, Barve traveled to New Delhi to receive his award from India’s new President Draupadi Murmu, our first tribal prime minister. The awards may have been steeped in protocol, but for Barve, 41, a designer so close to his roots in craftsmanship, it was momentous. “The ceremony was beautifully orchestrated down to the smallest detail. She was supposed to stay there from 5 p.m. to 6:47 p.m., and that’s exactly how long the ceremony lasted. From the Best Actor winners Ajay Devgn and Surya to the Smallest Movie Technician, everyone shared the same platform and equal space on stage. It really brought our otherwise unsung heroes to the fore,” he says.
‘Tanhaji‘ is a remarkable work, a period film with stellar CGI that chronicles the attempts of Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare to recapture Kondhana Fort from Aurangzeb and its administrator Udaybhan Rathore. “The film was a real labor of love and a bold and risky decision for me. We’ve seen a lot of overdone period films, but I decided to scale it down, make it more authentic rather than hyper stylized I wanted to better bring my knowledge of crafts and design and turn the actors into characters,” he smiles. ) was a chief’s wife but not a royal so there were Ilkal, Hubli and Dharwa sarees in Karnataka He also created a Maharashtrian Shalu (a combination of a Benarasi and one Pathani), never seen in cinemas before. And jewelry from a family whose ancestors worked at Shivaji’s court and let him use their 400-year-old castings.
Shivaji, played by Sharad Kelkar, could not wear Zardozi or Mughal style royal clothes. So there were local textiles with necklaces of shells and beads. The Dhakai mulmuls, jamdanis and the ikats belonged to Aurangzeb, played by Luke Kenny. “And Saif, who played Rathore from Rajasthan, carries it all with such aplomb,” adds Barve.
Barve’s seamless suits brought him the next Adipurushand Har Har Mahadev. They are also a great foil for her eponymous fashion brand, which shows off the finest Indian embroidery to be seen. “Costume and fashion are a foil for each other. Fashion is a solitary job but an open field. Costume design is a team effort and a director’s vision,” he says.
Barve’s forays into costume came from his family friends, the Bachchan family. Jaya Bachchan once suggested that she do Amitabh Bachchan’s hair for a jewelry commercial. He made jewelers Tanishq and Kalyan with them. “Ms. Bachchan has so much taste, she is like an institution where there is so much to learn.” He has also styled for commercials with Anushka Sharma and Sonam Kapoor, and two acclaimed Marathi films ‘Katyar Kaljaat Ghusali’ and ‘Ani Dr Kashinath Ghanekar’.
And of course the most catchy was his style for Samantha Ruth Prabhu for the song “Oo antava”. “She was like a preening peacock, in blue and green and mirror,” he describes her lehenga choli in the sensational song. Barve’s roots are firmly in design, lessons he learned from the legendary National Institute of Design, NID, in Ahmedabad.
“The NID has changed my life. I come from a family of doctors but grew up in a lower middle class family. My mother’s parents could not afford to educate her beyond the 12th standard, and she had to find scholarships to finance her medical studies. She had two blouses, one white and one black, and bought sarees from Dadar which were the end of the thaan and cost 6 rupees,” says Barve. “A nurse must have knocked me on my head, because even though I didn’t grow up around French rags, I only dreamed of fashion. The NID spoke my language, it was on my wavelength. I felt that I had found my planet. It was the meeting between science and art, thought and system, and all about finding solutions through design. »
He also gave her a scholarship that sent her to Paris for a year to work with Céline, owned by LVMH. And won her the International Woolmark as a runner-up from Asia and the Middle East.
Nachiket Barve believes fashion should achieve three goals: bring joy to the wearer, speak to the times in which it lives, be timeless, and celebrate what human hands can do. Through its clothing line like its costumes for the cinema, Barve conveys this message.
Top Notch’ is a bi-monthly column where journalist Namrata Zakaria introduces us to the elite club of fashion scholars.
Namrata Zakaria is a seasoned writer and editor, and a chronicler of social and cultural trends. Her first book, about late fashion designer Wendell Rodricks’ Moda Goa museum, is due out soon. Zakaria is best known for her insider’s view on fashion, luxury and social entrepreneurship in India. His writing is valued for shaping opinions, busting myths, building reputations and sometimes shattering odd careers. Zakaria is also involved in establishing philanthropic efforts in the area of economic and environmental sustainability.