Sanjay Leela Bhansali very detail-oriented: Anju Modi working with him film ‘Bajirao Mastani’ dream project

After adding drama to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Goliyon Ki Rasleela – Ram Leela” with her costumes, designer Anju Modi is working with him on his “Bajirao Mastani” dream project. She says the filmmaker has absolute clarity on how he wants the characters to be developed, portrayed and perceived.

Modi, who styled Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in the 2013 released film, is again styling for both the ladies for “Bajirao Mastani”, and the designer has immersed herself into research along with Bhansali to nail the right look of the characters.

“For the research, since the movie focusses on a specific period in our history when the Maratha Peshwa (Bajirao) rose to prominence and the region of Maharashtra, we had our work cut out for us.

“Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a very detail-oriented person – he is methodical and has absolute clarity on the way he wants the characters to be developed, portrayed and perceived. Bhansali and I travelled to various parts of Maharashtra to research the costumes and how we can best highlight and detail out the nuances of each of the three protagonists’ characters and personalities,” she said.

Working with actresses Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra is also a delight for Modi.

Amazed by the professionalism they have at this young age, Modi said: “In ‘…Ram-Leela’, I got the opportunity to work with two of the top leading ladies – Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra (for her song in the movie), and got to design costumes for both these beautiful actresses and Ranveer Singh.

“It has been an absolute delight working with all three of them! They’re all highly professional at such a young age, and to see their passion and dedication towards their craft, is nice to see.”

Modi, who launched her label in 1990, is one of the founding members of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the industry’s apex body.

In 2006, Modi was one of only four Indian designers selected for Heyers Fashion Festival in Paris, organised by the Chambre Syndicale, also the organisers of the Paris Fashion Week. In the same year, she was also invited to present her collection at the Miami Fashion Week.

Behind the scenes, Modi has been tirelessly working with master artisans across the country. She has delicately revived age-old Indian techniques, including vegetable dyeing, block printing and embroidery. She has also been working on contemporising traditional crafts like Chanderi weaving, Kota fabrics, Varanasi zari work and Bandhani printing.

When she is working on period movies, which require use of traditional Indian textile, Modi finds it “intellectually stimulating and gratifying” to research and work on such projects that “celebrate and showcase our rich history and textile heritage”.

“In fact, my collections (outside of costume design) are always steeped in research. I suppose it is my area of comfort,” said the designer, whose couture line at the ongoing edition of Amazon India Fashion Week (AICW) 2015 draws its inspiration from one of the richest ancient civilisations Persia.

She has titled the line Kashish.

Talking of her own journey in the fashion industry, she said: “It makes you feel extremely happy and blessed to have created such a body of work; and when I reflect back on the journey – from my beginnings to where I am today – brings this feeling of satisfaction and serenity, which incidentally also reflects in my collection inspirations now.”

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