The Period Drama Post

A look at a few contemporary period dramas in regional cinema, almost all are set in the 20th century.

मी वेगळी आहे विन्या (I am different, Vinya). 

The staging of a play in Ravi Jadhav’s short, Mitraa, during which Sumitra realises she is attracted to Nama. The film is based on Vijay Tendulkar’s 1981 play Mitrachi Goshta (A Friend’s Story) which is set in the 1940s and deals with a lesbian relationship.

The short is part of a film comprising 4 shorts based on poems, Bioscope.

Stills from Shala (School). This Marathi film that won a National Award for Best Marathi Film is set in a school in small town Maharashtra in the 1970s around the time of the Emergency. On point shirts for the young boy, frocks, plaits, flowers. The teacher in still 1 is a bit 60s but was probably still modern for the milieu.

SourceBook Review.

Timepass, a Marathi movie set in the 1990s, features a few “tapori” fashions of the time like cutoff, frayed sleeves, singlets, jeans with patches and bright colours. And for it’s heroine the frilly dress, salwar-set and the traditional sari ensemble for the “sarvajanik”.

And books :). The book titles are Pratiksha (Wait) and Fati Patang (Torn Kite).

We were meticulous. The hairstyles, the fabric they used in their clothes, the jewellery, the language… we wanted to get everything right. [X]

Subramaniapuram is set in 1980s Tamil Nadu.  The plain nylon davanis with matched blouses, the gold chain and pendant, the wide collar shirts and the facial fuzz, all very much of the time.

See also okadhalkanmani’s gif sets of the film.

Pic 1: NTR and Jamuna in Bhoo Kailas (1958).

Pic 2: Siddharth and Vedhika in Kavviya Thalaivan (2014) which is set in the world of an early 20th century Tamil drama company.  Such drama companies would often perform mythological/historical plays.

X and X.

1980. Kerala. Summer. A world with bell bottoms, sideburns, landmaster taxis, romantic radio songs… 

Also 1970s/80s saris. And hair oil.  Stills from Manjadikuru, set in the Kerala of the 1980s.

I might have had that dress and hairband as a kid…..

In the stills: Sridevika, Sidharth, Vyjayanthi, Firoz, Sindhu Menon and Rijosh (X)

Stills Source.

I’m no more afraid.
Earlier I thought that society had made a prison for women.
But now I realise, I am not only a woman, but a human being.
i cannot be imprisoned. I am free.

Stills from Jogajog (2015).  The adaptation shifts the time period of the 1929 novel to 1970s-1980s Bengal. A lot of beautiful handlooms in the film, mostly Bengali but also from Orissa (see this 1980s discussion). One of the themes of the film, the conflict between a marginalised cultured aristocracy and the emergence of an energetic but crude new business class is seen in the male costumes. Subdued kurtas for the former and a lot of safari suits, chains and the like for the latter.

Stills showing more of the clothes at the film’s facebook site.

Two movies that draw on Rabindranath Tagore’s life.

The first, Kadambari, is on his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi who committed suicide at an early age. Pics 1 and 2 are of Konkona Sen-Sharma and Parambrata Chatterjee as Kadambari and Rabindranath in the movie.

The second, Jeevan Smriti, is a documentary based on Tagore’s life and made for Doordarshan for the author’s 150th death anniversary by Rituparno Ghosh. The documentary spans Tagore’s life from his childhood to his death.  Raima Sen and Samadarshi Dutta play Kadambari and Rabindranath.

Both films draw on the many images of the Tagore family for costuming, the latter more so it would appear from the stills.

Bymokesh Bakshi is probably the most filmed fictional detective in India. A number of the films/serials are obviously made in Bengal, pic 2 for e.g. is of Jisshu Sengupta as the detective in the fourth installment of a recent Byomkesh series.

There have been two versions in Hindi. Pic 1 is of the series made in the 1990s with Rajit Kapur as Byomkesh.  The second is the recent film with Sushant Singh Rajput as the detective. The movie’s many stylistic touches extend to the characters costumes, though not overtly.  Byomkesh for e.g. is often in a jacket instead of a shawl, in pic 3 he also wears the shirt tunic popular in North India. And shoes. Anguri Devi in the last pic wears the sequin sarees of the time. For Satyavati there are a lot of handlooms all worn in the then modern style of 6 yards. And refreshingly no puff sleeve blouse or lace. Instead there are thesimpler styles of the 1940s.

There are of course many more. Some I have omitted because the costuming is very inaccurate.  By and large though regional cinema tends to get the “look” right. Any more movies please feel free to comment!


About Anu M

A potted history of Indian clothing and fashion.
This entry was posted in 1880s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 20th century, Actor, Bengal, Bengali cinema, Costume, Early 20th Century, fashion, fictional detectives, Film Costuming, Indian Cinema, Indian Costume, Indian Dress, Indian fashion, Indian men, Indian Women, Late 19th century, Lesbianism, Literature, Love, Malayalam Cinema, Marathi cinema, Novels, Period Drama, Regional cinema, Regional period drama, regional styles, retro cinema, retro fashion, Sari, Sari Blouse, Sets, South India, Tamil Cinema, Vintage, Vintage Blouse, vintage costume, vintage fashion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Period Drama Post

  1. Biker Chick says:

    Oh, this is so lovely more so because it includes some films that I really like. Glad to see Shaala get a mention and Byomkesh too. Subramaniapuram of course. There is another Marathi film called Duniyadaari, which was a mainstream hit, but I found its costuming rather loud and jarring. Other notable instances that come to mind in the immediate past from Marathi cinema are Katyar Kaljat Ghusali and Natasamarat, but of course this topic is such that you can never be sure of covering all of them. All of your posts are almost book length topics in their own right 🙂

    If you have had a chance to watch Bombay Velvet, what did you think of the costumes in that? Also, Iruvar. I thought Iruvar was just a fantastic piece of work in the detailing of the times that it was set in in every way, but I wouldn’t know enough to comment about accuracy in any way, so mine is just a layperson appreciation of the film’s mood.

    • Anu M says:

      As always thank you! I hadn’t heard of Duniyadaari will check it out. Katyar Kaljat Ghusali and Natasamarat, yes! I found the former to be the best with the songs, it was aimed at a modern audience and yet retained the spirit of Jitendra Abhisheki.

      You know I haven’t seen both BV and Iruvar. What little I have seen of BV, well along with Byomkesh I feel like some modern filmmakers may be inhaling something strong along with their Hollywood viewing 😉 Visuals and recreating a mood are Mani Ratnam’s strengths so I am going by your comments on the film. I liked the costumes of O Kadhal Kanmani, thought it created a certain kind of urban milieu very well.

      • Biker Chick says:

        Haha. Knowing both those directors, they will be on to strong stuff for sure. I do enjoy their work immensely, though 🙂 Cannot recommend Iruvar enough. It is lovely.

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