Bollywood's eternal love affair with saree

Bollywood Sarees

Saree - Elegant yet Sensuous

Saree is one of the oldest pieces of garment known to us, which is still in existence. It’s a staple in every Indian woman’s wardrobe. It is perhaps the only unstitched garment that has survived  from the past. It's not only a sensuous and glamorous all time wear for women, but also a canvas for artists and weavers to create artistic prints and weaves.

A Brief History of Saree

The word “Saree” has its origin in the ancient Prakrit language and it evolved from the Prakrit word "sttika" which means a strip of cloth. As per the Vedic culture, men and women were required to wear clothes that did not have any knots because of the old Hindu belief that stitching makes the cloth impure. It is perhaps from this rule, that dhoti for men and saree for women came into existence. (Source-Wikipedia)

 How could a woman  look so elegant and poised just by draping a piece of fabric around is a mystery. Extremely flattering to Indian curves, a saree can make you look effortlessly elegant.

Bollywood’s eternal love affair with saree

The sheer elegance of nine yards has stunned many renowned designers worldwide, and when this classic drape met another timeless classic aka Bollywood, wonders were woven.

Bollywood has always played an exceptional role in making sarees popular among its audience. Whenever saree has experienced a dull phase, Bollywood has come as a savior to exceed its value and revive its fading charm and popularity. Hindi cinema has influenced fashion since its early days and has inspired many fashion trends.

Bollywood divas are known to work gracefully with the elegant nine yards. They enthrall their audience and create sartorial magic in every frame. From everyday elegance to red carpet looks, Bollywood actresses have always reinvented saree by lending their glamour to this humble drape. The distinctive styles of these fashion icons are emulated by their star struck female fans. In fact a lot of designers also use this medium of cinema for reaching out to people and propagate their latest saree designs and collection.

However, from the history of Bollywood there are some classic saree ensembles- looks that have left a permanent impact on the Indian fashion industry. From Sree Devi’s blue saree in Mr. India, which set a precedent for plain chiffon sarees, to Madhuri’s legendary orange saree in Beta or her purple drape in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, saree has been lovingly immortalized in Bollywood movies.

Here are a few movies that have showcased  Bollywood’s everlasting love affair with saree. These movies left an everlasting impact on movie buffs and saree lovers. These iconic drapes are the ultimate saree moments in Bollywood’s history which, even the most modern fashion empresses today would love to wear with absolute enthusiasm.


Brahmchari (1968)

Mumtaz grooving to the peppy song “Aajkal tere mere pyar ke charche” in an orange mermaid drape with metallic edges, truly stood the test of time. She transformed the way of draping a saree and created her own fashion statement. This iconic, specially designed saree is  still carried by us to define the era of the1960s.Though that era was already into sarees, movies helped them to maintain their popularity.

Mr. India (1987)

Sridevi’s  blue chiffon saree from Mr. India truly left a mark on the fashion industry. Besides her sensuous dance moves, her breezy blue saree made the song memorable. The demand for chiffon sarees was suddenly at peak and they were seen around a lot after the movie's release.

Chandni  (1988)

Chiffon sarees  continued to make it to a number of films with the idea of adding seductiveness without compromising on modesty. These flowy sarees became a rage in the fashion industry. The ardent scene of Chandni, where  Sridevi’s yellow chiffon pallu fluttered in the wind, on mountain peaks and meadows , made chiffon saree an essential ingredient for hundreds of romantic songs that followed.

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994)

One of the biggest hits in the history of Indian Cinema, this movie not just influenced attires, but it made the vibe of Indian weddings charming and enthralling as never before. From music to fashion trends Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was a trendsetter all the way. The crystal embedded royal blue saree worn by Madhuri ,for the most popular track of the film "Didi tera dewar " is still a masterpiece. Designed by the ace Bollywood designer Anna Singh, this  saree  was crafted in pure Italian crêpe and embellished with zardosi and diamonds. It is one of the most expensive outfits of Indian Cinema.

Devdas (2002)

A new era of costume began with Sanjay Leela Bnansali’s period drama “Devdas”. The movie became more legendary by the traditional sarees. Aishwarya and Madhuri’s iconic red-white saree  with dazzling sequins transported us to Bengal in 1900 and gave us a glimpse of a life of grandeur and extravagance in the zamindari rule. The divine beauty of both the actresses became more resplendent by the sarees they wore in the movie.

 Aishwarya’s heavily embroidered blue saree, indulgent with zardozi, sequins and other forms of intricate embellishments, made its way to every boutique and saree store. Her opulent costumes worked as a torchbearer for a series of other films that have managed to keep the old-world charm of Indian traditional wear in trend till date.

Main Hoon Na (2003)

Draped in yellow chiffon saree with a billowing pallu, Sushmita  looked drop dead gorgeous. She cut a sultry figure in" Main Hoon Na" and reiterated that sarees can make a strong  and alluring statement. Her poised and elegant sari avatar found much praise from fans .The movie remains a classic, especially for its remarkable sarees.

Dostana (2007)

 Priyanka Chopra in Desi Girl song has looked as gorgeous as ever in a simple saree. Her metallic saree with a sequined border, teamed with a halter neck blouse, can never be forgotten. Priyanka's look in the song inspired many designers and paved a path for experimentation on how to make the saree look sensual yet elegant.

Ye Jawani Hai Deewani (2013)

Remember Deepika's iconic electric blue saree with that sleek golden border that she donned for Badtameez Dil? Deepika gave us that blue saree. Her lustrous wavy locks, on-point makeup and those dainty earrings further made it a party-perfect look. This Manish Malhotra saree became an instant trendsetter and its replicas flooded the local saree shops.

 Bahubali (2016)

From Ramya Krishnan’s silk sarees ,accentuated by gold zari borders to Anushka Shetty’s regal ,delicate Benarasi and Paithani silk sarees with rich monochrome, Bahubali showcased sarees that could be easily worn on as well as off-screen.

Sarees that sparkled in Cannes Film Festival

There isn’t a place where the traditional Indian attire "saree" hasn’t mesmerized people, and the Cannes Film Festival is no exception. The nine yards have been worn with elegance and grace at the coveted film fest by many Bollywood divas like Sonam Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and Richa Chaddha.

Bollywood has immortalized saree and revamped Indian fashion to a great extent. Fashion trends may keep on changing, but the charm of saree will never fade away. There will always be a section of designers who will conserve  and reinvent them by giving  a whole new dimension to Saree .

Image sources- Esamskriti, idiva,, filmybeat.

Shubhra Joshi

(Consulting Stylist)

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