Birthday love: Manish Malhotra’s iconic looks

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor


Manish Malhotra is a household name when it comes to fashion and Bollywood. He has dressed some of the biggest powerhouse actresses in the film industry. Whether it is Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit Nene or Kareena Kapoor Khan, Malhotra has the eye for ensuring that the clothes make the characters and say so much before the actresses before they even speak their first lines on screen. Everyone wants to be dressed by Malhotra, on and off screen and though he claims to not have any favourites in dressing particular actresses, the Kapoor sisters rank highly on their radar. As Malhotra approaches his 50th Birthday, looks back at some of his best loved looks that he has created for the ladies of Bollywood.

Urmila Matondkar in ‘Rangeela’ (1995)


When it comes to creating a fashion revolution in Bollywood, Malhotra does this with a blink of an eye and his looks on Matondkar in ‘Rangeela’ were some of the most ground breaking yet. In ‘Rangeela’, Matondkar played an aspiring actress Milli who catches the attention of a film movie star and auditions to be the lead in his next film. ‘Rangeela’ was the film that cemented Matondkar’s status as a sex symbol, making her an overnight sensation. Some of Malhotra’s most iconic looks on Matondkar were in the song Tanha Tanha including a red dress which was slit down the side as she danced on screen.

Kajol & Rani Mukerji in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ (1999)

Kajol Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Malhotra is an expert when it comes to mixing up east meets west look. In the early part of the film, Kajol and Mukerji had very different looks, Kajol played a tomboy wearing sports gear for most of the scenes with bandanas across her forehead, trainers and colourful branded sweatshirts. In contrast, Mukerji was a London girl who had come across from London and had the sexier look with mini dresses and skirts, smart leather jackets and pastel coloured outfits. Later on the film, Kajol’s character transitioned to being more feminine in Indian clothes with chiffon saris and her final look, a wedding lengha. Both the actresses looked beautiful in the film and in the clever hands of Malhotra, stood out in every scene. There was even an iconic red dupatta which symbolised the giving of love and maturing to becoming the next steps in life as a woman.

Madhuri Dixit-Nene & Karisma Kapoor in ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997)

SRK-Karisma in 'Dil To Pagal Hai'
SRK-Karisma in ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’

Malhotra is definitely the designer to have on speed dial when it comes to dressing some of the most iconic actresses in Bollywood. For ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, Malhotra dressed Dixit and Kapoor and made them look like goddesses on screen. Kapoor played Nisha, a dancer who is secretly in love with her colleague, very western and likes to show off her body. Kapoor had some sexy looks in the film, in particular a sultry aqua dress that she wears on Valentines Day which perfectly matched her eyes. Dixit- Nene in contrast was more traditional and closer to her Indian roots. She wore very Indian looks but with a Western twist, Dixit wore lots of soft pastel colours and in particular long white dresses as she raced through the green fields. ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ was some of Malhotra’s best work.

Kajol, Jaya Bachchan, & Kareena Kapoor Khan in ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ (2001)

Kajol K3G

Dressing women of all ages in one film can be an impossible feat but Malhotra did this with ease and grace in ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’. All the actresses in the film had their own look in the film, varying in backgrounds and characters and they all looked stunning. In the early part of the film, Kajol is from a poor background so you see her in simple shalwar kameez, made simply with small amounts of embroidery. Later on the film, Kajol marries into a richer family and lives in the UK so she wears heavily embroidered saris but still keeps some of the simplicity. Jaya Bachchan is the daughter in law and wife of a rich household so you see her in heavily embroidered saris in bright colours. Kareena Kapoor Khan, in contrast, is a young girl who is still experimenting with her looks so she wears brightly coloured short skirts and dresses and is dressed to create an impression.

Kareena Kapoor Khan in ‘Chameli’ (2004)

Kareena Kapoor in 'Chameli'
Kareena Kapoor in ‘Chameli’

Kareena Kapoor Khan is one actress that Manish Malhotra has worked with the most in Bollywood. No matter what character Kapoor Khan is starring as, Malhotra knows exactly what fashion looks work for her and how to ensure that she is looking her best. In ‘Chameli’, Kapoor played one of her most daring characters yet, she plays a prostitute named Chameli who is smart and streetwise and not afraid of her profession. In the film, Kapoor Khan mainly wore a blue flowered blouse with a red sari and it suited her role to perfection. Malhotra’s look for Chameli’s character, fearless yet vulnerable and the colours suited her well.

It is clear that Malhotra has made the world fall in love with Bollywood actresses, with girls all over the world trying to emulate the looks that he creates for them on screen. wishes Manish Malhotra a very Happy 50th Birthday!