Let’s leave the terrible headline aside for now. Does anyone remember a show called Lakme Fashion House? It was on Sony, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla judge a bunch of amateur designers? Donatella Versace judged the finale? Katrina Kaif and Yana Gupta who were just models then, walked the ramp? No? Ok, just me then.
Fashion is a rare commodity on Indian television. In terms of reality tv, Lakme Fashion House, a really bad designer hunt on Zoom and the most recent What not to wear India on TLC, fashion and the fashion industry is not part of the entertainment industry here. We have two fashion weeks in this country but no Project Runway, Tim Gunn’s guide to style, Fashion Police, The Rachel Zoe project or other such shows.
Apart from reality television, the fashion industry has stayed unrepresented even in feature television. The only one I can remember that came somewhere in the vicinity of close is Jassi Jaisi koi nahi, the Indian version of Ugly Betty where the lead worked in a fashion magazine. No Jane by Design, Veronica’s closet, Sex and the city or Gossip Girls who have fashion as an important element.
It seems like an entire industry is ignored by Indian Tv. It’s not that we aren’t a fashion conscious country. We count fashion designers as celebrities, everyone knows Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi, Masaba and Ritu Kumar, we talk a lot about what our Bollywood stars wear, everyone has an opinion on Aishwarya Rai at Cannes, we have a line of fashion bloggers aiming to be India’s Go fug yourself and yet it hasn’t permeated the entertainment industry as a whole.
TLC’s What not to wear India is hosted by Soha Ali Khan and Aki Narula who are supposed to be our version of Trinny and Susannah. Even if you haven’t watched their show, you might remember them from their appearances of The Oprah show where they’d ambush poor American women, rip off their mom-jeans and give them a makeover. Trinny and Susannah’s show is vastly better than our own version because a) it’s an hour long show b) it takes into consideration the personality of the women they are trying to make over c) Trinny and Susannah are just fun.
Soha Ali Khan and Aki Narula don’t understand the women they are trying to make over at all. Most of their participants at some point have mentioned some sort of insecurity, with their post-pregnancy bodies or from their obviously hotter sister, etc. But it’s just a fleeting moment, there is no deeper probing into the psyche of the woman who doesn’t feel beautiful enough or doesn’t think she has what it takes to pull of a girly dress. They don’t go into their house and see how they live. It’s like in last week’s episode of Project Runway, where Ven made an ugly and uncomfortable dress for a working woman who has children to take care of and a two hour commute to her office. You can’t be telling a woman to not wear comfy chappals if she takes the Churchgate local every morning. The point of a make over is to change how people think about themselves and what they think people perceive them to be. Half an hour is not long enough to do that. Also, the surprise element, the ta-dah moment when the woman revels her new self to her friends and family isn’t magical enough because I barely know or feel for her.
I am surprisingly passionate about this subject, considering I don’t give a fuck about clothes and will never stop wearing flip flops. But yes, give me good fashion on TV and I’ll just lap it up.