Last year we got ourselves a subscription for mubi and ended up quite enjoying their selection of films. We caught a fair few old Indian films – some of the films we saw are also on youtube but I guess the print quality might be a bit better on mubi. One of these movies was Gaman (1978). It is still relevant, many of the migrant issues raised in the film remain and some have grown more complex.
In comparison to the Muzaffar Ali films which followed later, notably the opulent Umrao Jaan, the costumes of this film are very few and often quite threadbare. Nevertheless they have the elegance of well worn clothing worn by a dignified people. And are also Uttar Pradesh/Awadh specific which is quite unusual in a movie.
Khairun (Smita Patil in a quiet, lovely performance) wears about 3 or 4 gharara suits in tones of black, white and red throughout the movie. I think this chevron print dupatta is quite characteristic of Avadh (more colourful versions appear in the movie Umaro Jaan too).
Ghulam Hasan (Farooq Shaikh) is largely in city clothes – especially the taxi driver uniform – so I might skip the male costumes in this film.
A clear view of the suits worn in the film, this costume was quite common among Muslim women and is often revived even now for contamporary suits, The dupatta is probably a block print mul sort.
Plainer versions of the everyday dress worn by Khairun.
Khairun as a bride, contrasted with Ghulam Hasan’s passenger in Mumbai, a young Maharashtrian bride, The yellow flowers of the latter are a kind of blanket flower (common in garlands for a long time but I rarely see them these days in Mumbai).
The only bit of glamour in the film comes from Protima Bedi in a handloom saree exuding Indian upper class elegance. These days the large bindi is relegated to TV soaps and it is hard to think of a contemporary actress carrying it off as well as Ms Bedi.
For the brides as well as an upper class woman, jasmine strings are the unifier.
The characters played by Geeta Siddharth and Hira Devi Mishra are representative of contemporary city styles among the lower middle classes and in an Uttar Pradesh village (although I am not a fan of always using the ilkal saree to indicate that the character is Maharashtrian, Mumbai had a more varied range to choose from in the 70s).
The ending is filmed at a train station and while there is a great deal of movement and it was difficult to get screen grabs, these two images show both the plain cottons as well as the synthetic mill cloth that went into cheaper, everyday sarees at the time.
The decoration of Ghulam Hasan’s house and the filmmaker’s grandmother in a costume similar to that of Khairun’s.
And as always the costume credits for the movie. Amir Bano also acts in the film and plays Ghulam Hasan’s mother.