Style file: desi goes disastrously wrong at Cannes

Fashion-wise, Vidya Balan, Sonam Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan let the side down.

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India is celebrating 100 years of cinema this year and, befittingly, the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival has been bedazzled by Bollywood. Vidya Balan made it to the star-studded jury list. Amitabh Bachchan gave the opening address. Sonam Kapoor was – well, she was there. The Cannes appearance of these three was underlined by a common factor besides their Indian origins: their fantastic faux pas.

I almost had an aneurysm when I saw what the three were wearing. While their disastrous outfits were embarrassing for desis all over the world, it was also heartening to note that even superstars can get it so wrong.

Let’s start with Vidya Balan. Our desi bombshell shared her place on the jury with seven other international film celebrities. I’m not sure how well Balan fared at judging the films but the minute she stepped on stage, it was clear that she has lost the style stakes big time. Her ghastly outfit was a Sabyasachi Mukherjee creation, so I don’t entirely blame Balan for looking so bad in it. It would have taken a very special kind of person to look good wearing it. That wasn’t all, though. Poor Vidya struck out again as she arrived for the cocktails at the Martinez Hotel wearing another questionable creation by Mukherjee.

Both outfits are perfect examples of “desi gone disastrous” and a reminder that pulling off a desi look should not result in the person looking like a caricature of every Indian stereotype. I’m surprised that Vidya became a victim of this because she is quite good at pulling off such a look and can look extremely sexy while doing it. It’s not just her outfits that were bad, though – her make-up made her look decades old.

As for Sonam Kapoor, I don’t know what exactly it was that she was doing at Cannes, apart from showing the whole world how not to wear a desi look. Her outfit was designed by Anamika Khanna and consisted of a white lace sari with a shimmering golden blouse, questionably topped with a trailing jacket. In addition to her debatable outfit, Sonam also sported bad hair, worse make-up and a hilarious nose-ring. It takes real talent to make a pretty face look that ugly. We need to find whoever is behind her grooming and ban that person from ever getting close to a face with a hairbrush or a tube of lipstick again.

Making observations on the final fashion disaster at Cannes is a tough one because I have always had a huge crush on Amitabh Bachchan. He is the ultimate. Forget Sean Connery or George Clooney – for desis, it’s Big B any day. So when he shows up in Cannes dressed the way he did, it kills us on the inside. The absurdity of his outfits were put in context by group pictures of him with his western compatriots.

His failed experiments started early in the day at Cannes at the photo call for The Great Gatsby. While his co-stars kept it classy and simple, Big B went all out with a striped jacket with white trousers and white shoes. Hello, Jeetendra called from the 1980s and he wants his shoes back! Later, Bachchan showed up in a black, sequinned tuxedo jacket with a polka-dot bow-tie, which was totally out of place among the sober attire of the other male stars and directors.

Final verdict? As far as a century of cinema goes, thumbs up to the Indian film industry. Fashion in the spotlight still needs some work, though.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai

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