Maybe it was Madonna who sported henna on her hands and donned saris back in the ‘90s. Long before that, there was the Beatles who popularised India-inspired fashion like the Nehru suit, kurtas and beads as they belted out many a sitar-based song. Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and Mind Your Language all feature one quintessential Indian character too. Whatever be the case, it is evident that Indian culture continues to deeply influence international trends in all spheres of life including fashion, music, design, books and food. All over the world, people are embracing the colourful culture that India has come to be known for. Bollywood in all its myriad hues and the attraction towards a culture that’s known for its diversity are majorly responsible for creating an appeal that continues to dominate the imagination of the West. Besides Bollywood movies, Bollywood dance classes have become all the rage in countries other than India itself. Now, it’s not just limited to yoga classes or Starbucks’ Chai Latte! It’s much more than that. Indian elements can be spotted in objects as mundane as a notebook!
It’s hard to watch a fashion show or even browse through a fashion magazine without encountering at least one piece of clothing or accessory that has a touch of India in it. There is a huge brigade of designers who have heavily borrowed from the most traditional and versatile of Indian garments – the Sari. For instance, French fashion house Hermès recently launched a line of elegant saris in its Indian stores. Interestingly, the couturier showcased similar saris during an international fashion week too. Alexander McQueen’s 2008 collection saw some beautiful pieces of clothing fused with Indian elements like silk borders, peacock motifs, intricate headpieces and morjari shoes! More recently, Kim Kardashian teamed an ornate Indian headpiece with a white gown for her wedding ceremony. Bindis, henna tattoos, paisley prints, khadi, kurtis, churidhars and pashmina shawls continue to make a fashion statement with international celebrities and general public alike.
India has a long-standing relationship with the West when it comes to music too. As early as the 1950s, Indian music found its way into the jazz-folk and jazz-classical scene in the United States with the likes of Ravi Shankar sparking major interest abroad. In the early ’90s, Kula Shaker released music that was heavily inspired by India and featured Sanskrit lyrics with Indian instruments like the tabla and sitar. Interestingly, Germaine Jackson, brother of the now-deceased King of Pop recently stated that the Jackson 5 was inspired by Bollywood’s over-thetop films! Even today, catering to the Indian appeal that the West continues to hanker for, is the new band that comprises AR Rehman, Rollingstones’ Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, reggae artist Damian Marley and Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart. The band has come out with a number of Indianthemed songs like ‘Satyameva Jayate’ that are drenched in chants and other Indian elements like the sitar.
These days when one sees cupcakes decorated with mehendi-inspired designs, it only goes to show that Indian imagery is fast finding a place not just in the realm of fashion or music but also in the world of gastronomy. England’s obsession with Chicken Tikka Masala and all things curry is yet another East-meets-West trend that is as mainstream as it can get. In fact, many people as far away from India as Scotland, have claimed to have invented the delicious Chicken Tikka Masala dish! Chai latte, now a popular warm beverage abroad also finds its roots in India’s humble roadside tea stalls.
Bollywood goes to Hollywood
Few know that Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge was inspired by Bollywood’s dramatic dance, colourful costumes and overwhelmingly dreamy sets. In fact, the film also incorporated a Bollywood style dance sequence that sampled the famous ‘Chamma Chamma’ song from the movie China Gate. Global audiences were treated to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bollywoodinfluenced spectacle ‘Bombay Dreams’, a West End production that was based on a young man’s aspirations to become the next big Bollywood star. Danny Boyle reinforced India’s place on the map with his Oscar-nominated Slumdog Millionaire, a film that portrayed the poverty-stricken side of Mumbai. Tourists have since been signing up for Mumbai’s Dharavi slum tour, expecting to witness the poverty as depicted onscreen. Eat, Pray, Love, the film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book was such a hit that it saw many people travelling all the way to India to embrace a spiritual life in an ashram. A West End production of the famous Indian film Hum Apke Hain Kaun turned out to be a big hit in England too. The popular Harold and Kumar movies also reinstate the wide appeal that the world shares for India.
With touches of colourful inspiration and mesmerising influences borrowed from India, it’s no wonder then that the country’s imagery continues to pop up in almost every sphere of life abroad. India can indeed be termed as a bottomless well of inspiration!
TOP INDIAN TRENDS GONE INTERNATIONAL
BOLLYWOOD DANCE LESSONS
VINTAGE BOLLYWOOD POSTERS
Volume 1 Issue 6