In past few years we have seen Pakistani Cinema turn its game up with a decent amount of movies being released. Starting with Punjabi films to Urdu speaking movies, the face of Pakistani Cinema has been revolutionised in recent times.
The script, music, cinematography, and direction, although have all had their share of glory in this brief new history of Pakistani films, character stylization or costume designing is still where one can find heavy shortcomings. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s Anjali, for instance, is remembered as a girl with short hair and boyish looks, which went quite well with her character sketch as a tomboy, the same cannot really be remembered about any recent release of ours.
People go to the cinema, watch a movie, praise it or give it a thumbs down and that is it. Hardly anyone speaks about the costumes or character stylization. Recent releases, Janaan, Actor in Law, Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai, Teri Meri Love story, have all kept their wardrobes fairly basic which includes both western and eastern wear. Apart from Janaan which showed us a Pakhtun family which no one would’ve guessed if not told so, we saw the film break the stereotypical Pashtun dress code, especially for the women.
The movie shows a more modern side of Pathan women with sleek, blow-dried hair who have no qualms in being face to face with the opposite gender. The colours of the clothes have been kept subtle for the characters, although thought could have been put into Armeena Khan’s character to make her stand out from the rest of the cast.
Armeena Khan looks beautiful in this colourful Pashtun ensemble.
Moreover, the men are mostly seen in suits or shalwar kameez with waistcoats which gives a very regal and classic look. The perfectly fitted clothing with lean cuts on the men is a sigh of relief seeing how disappointing the women’s clothing was. The negative character of Nayyer Ejaz executes sheer quintessence of the Pathan culture by donning a Pakol cap throughout the film.
On the other hand, the costume designing in Actor in Law portrayed much laid back looks for the characters. Fahad Mustafa, the protagonist, is mostly seen in a suit as he is working as a lawyer in the movie.
Whereas the antagonist, Alyy Khan is given suave looks which blends in well with his character of the number one anchor in Pakistan.
Hailing from a middle class family, the character of Om Puri is mostly seen in Shalwar Kameez and a suit as he essays the role of lawyer. Lastly, Mehwish Hayat who portrays a Parsi reporter in the movie is mostly seen in western attire. Mostly, in real life, we have come across reporters working in Pakistan wearing Shalwar Kameez, so to have Mehwishs character wear jeans, shorts, skirts, etc seemed like a bold move. Kudos to that!
As an ending note, my only tip for upcoming movie makers would be to pay as much attention to costume designing as they do to other aspects of their films, so that the characters in future can have a lasting impact on us through their style and persona too!