For decades, the cinema-czars from Mumbai have been dictating rigid costume codes for various movie characters, thereby churning out celluloid stereotypes. As with the comedian who flits around mostly in knickerbockers, if not in a warm pair of long johns with the loose ends of its draw-string hanging in front.
The rustic hero lands at the city wearing dhoti-kurta and a crew-cut with a tuft hanging from behind his dome as he flaunts Santoshima's vemillion tika on his forehead. Hugging an old iron trunk that contains all his worldly possessions, he swears by Bhjarangabali in Bhojpuri.
The country heroine (with plucked eyebrows!) roams the hillocks with a billy-goat in tow(soon to be replaced by the hero) wearing long-sleeved blouse on top of a knee-length pleated skirt and her hair in a single plait. To maintain her equilibrium (and to attract the attention of village desperadoes), she wears a pair of silver anklets which, in due course, will provide the opening jingle for the duet that she will sing with the sheharibabu in a desolate barn on stormy night.
Scores of characters parade through the movie bearing the stamp of their vocations. The tailor dances at his friend's baraat wearing a measuring tape around his neck. The doctor unfailingly dons his white coat with the stethoscope coiled around his neck (like Lord Shiva's serpent) even while attending his patient's funeral (just in case the corpse stars blinking).
But the police inspector is real case in point. For one thing, he wears his uniform even in bed, and for another he can't speak unless he keeps tapping his left palm with a baton. His favourite wind instrument is the police whistle which he blows either to kill time or to entertain the fleeing criminals.
Finally, what most of us don't realise is that the Mumbai filmdom has universalised the nightie as an all-weather, all-occasion garment. Today, if the nightie trade has become a golden goose, the credit should go to all those lovelorn heroines who, clad in nighties, sing soulful solos on the decks of the house-boat braving the biting Kashmir chill.
The Nightie Phenomenon:
Video Courtesy: http://www.youtube.com/
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