Top 10 Indian fashionistas


Picture courtesy: Deepika Padukone’s official Facebook page


They are hot and they are chic and they rock the look in whatever outfits they choose to wear. Meet the dazzling 10 divas who I think have the most impressive style quotient in the Indian fashion scene.

1.Deepika Padukone

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Her very name spells magic not only in the world of haute couture but anywhere in the film crazy nation be it at a bus-stop or paan-waala’s shop. Tall and athletic, she has a figure to die for and carries off just about any outfit with élan. She is equally at ease in a saree as she is in a fitting bodycon dress. If she oozes femininity in a sparkling desi number she exudes oodles of charm in a pantsuit. In a beautiful anarkali she looks very much the girl next door and in a mini-skirt an absolute stunner. And she accessorizes all her outfits with her dazzling smile.

2. Priyanka Chopra

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The former Miss World has carried her success to Bollywood. Even as she is wooing audiences with her acting talent she is making heads turn in the fashion circles with her impeccable sartorial sense. Short skirts and knee-length outfits accentuate her shapely legs while sarees and other ethnic outfits bring out her desi charms. And she never seems to go wrong with her hairdos. Be it the messy top knot with denims and tees or a vintage updo with gowns it is difficult to take your eyes off her. Wow!

3. Kareena Kapoor

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The girl with an impish charm wears clothes that perfectly complement her personality. The fitness-conscious diva is a designer’s delight and can slip into any outfit with utmost ease. In flowing gowns she is a dream, in dresses she looks picture perfect and in desi outfits she is the typical Indian girl. And like Deepika, she enlivens all her outfits with a fascinating smile.

4. Sonam Kapoor

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Tall and elegant Sonam has fashion in her genes. Her mom was a fashion designer. Sonam’s wardrobe has creations by the world’s top designers. She made the world take notice of her with a stunning fairy-like appearance at Cannes in the summer of 2011. The actress swept the red carpet in a Jean Paul Gaultier couture gown. She also made appearances in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of the fest. The popular fashionista has made appearances on the covers of many glossies. In her debut film Aisha, a major talking point was her enviable wardrobe.

5. Freida Pinto

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The model and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ actress has walked many a red carpet ever since she made a mark in Hollywood. The dusky star’s style quotient has garnered tremendous interest in the western as well as Indian media. Like Sonam, her appearances at Cannes were impressive. She especially rocked in Atelier Versace and Michael Angler high-slit gowns at Cannes 2012, a halter-neck bright pink Gucci gown in Cannes 2013, a strapless Oscar de la Renta gown in Cannes 2014 and got a lot of good press.

6. Sania Mirza

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The poster girl of Indian tennis bowls crowds not just with her game but with her colourful dresses too. She is easily one of the most colourful personalities on the Indian sports scene. Sania has also walked the ramp at many fashion shows in westerns and ethnic wear and mostly for a cause.

7. Dipika Pallikal


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Like Sania Mirza, Dipika wows in her colourful outfits on the squash court and off it too. When on the courts she is a combination of great looks, talent and style and on the rare occasions she is at a public function or Page 3 event she is a stunner all the way again with her looks and sense of dressing.

8. Shobhaa De

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Though 66, the multifaceted Ms De looks gorgeous enough to give women half her age a run for their money. Though she is mostly seen in sarees teamed with just the right jewellery, Shobhaa De also looks swell in other ethnic designs and western wear too.

9. Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan looks resplendent in a green zari-border silk saree with a red palu. (Pic courtesy: Vidya Balan's Facebook page)

Vidya Balan looks resplendent in a green zari-border silk saree with a red palu. (Pic courtesy: Vidya Balan’s Facebook page)

An ambassador of the saree is what I would call her. In the pretty Bollywood actress, the beautiful Indian attire has found the perfect model. Though after her marriage, a whole lot of ethnic creations have made their way to her wardrobe, many would agree that Vidya Balan loves sarees, sarees love Vidya Balan and there would be hardly anyone who doesn’t want to see Vidya Balan in a saree.

10. Kangana Ranaut

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Kangana Ranaut with her elfin charms and slender figure can carry herself with ease in any outfit. While she looks oh-so-adorable and Barbie-doll-like in little dresses, she makes heads turn in ethnic outfits even with minimal jewellery. In gowns, Kangana simply looks divasque. Atta girl!

Vintage Indian photography at its best – II

A photo by Kulwant Roy adorns an exhibition hoarding at the NGMA.

A photo by Kulwant Roy adorns an exhibition hoarding at the NGMA.

Kulwant Roy (photo courtesy: NGMA)

Kulwant Roy (photo courtesy: NGMA)

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) commemorated Gandhi Jayanthi this year with a unique exhibition of black and white photographs from the collection of unheralded press photographer/photo-journalist Kulwant Roy. Not many know that Kulwant Roy was one of the most influential photographers of his time (pre- and post-independent India). His illustrious career spanned three decades from the 1930s to 1960s and had its roots in Lahore (then an integral part of India). He was one of the first freelance photo-journalists of India. While his photographs made a great impact especially in the political circles of those days they strangely faded away from public memory after he stopped working. He died a sad man in 1984 and very surprisingly his works got their due only recently. This is thanks mainly due to the meticulous work of his nephew, photographer Aditya Arya. Kulwant Roy had bequeathed his entire collection of photos and negatives to Aditya just before he died.

A photo developed from a cracked negative adorns an exhibition hoarding at the NGMA.

A photo developed from a cracked negative adorns an exhibition hoarding at the NGMA.

Gandhi alighting from a third-class train carriage.

Gandhi alighting from a third-class train carriage. (picture courtesy: literature provided by organiser)

A Gandhi picture developed from a cracked negative

A Gandhi picture developed from a cracked negative. (photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser)


Photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser

The ongoing exhibition is curated by Aditya Arya and is a collaboration between the NGMA and the India Photo Archive Foundation. Among the photos on display are 200 digital reproductions and more than 100 original silver bromide prints. Some of the photographs are on display for the first time. With the passage of time, many of the silver bromide negatives developed cracks and this shows on many of the newly developed prints. Many have been touched up. The collection on display is a treat to the eyes and offers a great insight into the history of 20th century India. A majority of them are iconic images of decisive moments in Indian history which includes portraits of leaders, stills from meetings and glimpses into the lives of freedom fighters of India. There are many large reproductions of rare negatives. Also on display are the cameras (two Graflix cameras, a Leica, a Yashica and a Mamiya twin-lens reflex camera) and equipment used by Kulwant Roy. Here and there you can also see some of the contact sheets created by the photographer.  Among the many photos that stand out are that of Mahatma Gandhi alighting from a third-class train compartment and another where he is begging for alms for the Harijan fund. Gandhi always travelled third-class. There are photographs of Jawaharlal Nehru in many avatars including one where he is rinsing his mouth at a tap at Anand Bhavan, a picture on horseback, another as a cricketer and family pictures especially one with a very young Rajiv Gandhi.


Born in Baglikhan, Ludhiana, Kulwant Roy was a strong and athletic man who had immense talent with the camera. He learnt photography at Gopal Chitter Kuteer in Lahore under the tutelage of Lalit Gopal in the 1930s. It was during this time that he captured activities of the Indian National Congress and also photographed Jawaharlal Nehru who was working as a Seva Dal volunteer in Kanpur. Nehru went on to become his favourite subject. In 1941, Kulwant Roy joined the Royal Indian Air Force (the IAF as it was known then).  He trained as an aerial lensman in Kohat near Quetta. He was assigned with taking pictures of the turbulent North West Frontier Province (NWFP) with the help of specially designed cameras mounted on aircraft. His career with the air force didn’t last long as he was dismissed for disobeying a racist rule at the swimming pool. Roy made the best out of a bad situation by taking up work as a photojournalist at Lahore. In the middle of his career, Roy started Associated Press Photos, his own photographic agency, at Mori Gate in Delhi. The exhibition starts with an introduction to Kulwant Roy and has pictures of him in Air Force uniform.

A photo of a photo of I don't know how many photos.

Photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser


Photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser

In 1938, Kulwant Roy again got to travel to NWFP this time with Mahatma Gandhi who went there to meet Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly called Frontier Gandhi, who like Mahatma Gandhi was working on bringing peace to that region through his non-violent movement called Khudai Khidmatgar. The NWFP collection almost all of which are low-angle photographs includes several candid photos of the two great leaders. These photos are even more remarkable because the leaders of those days were not camera friendly and photo-ops never existed. This also called for a great deal of efficiency because the photographers had to be very quick and at the same time perfect with their clicks.

A section titled ‘A Life Behind the Camera’ provides glimpses into the lives of press photographers of those days and the great camaraderie that they enjoyed. One of the photographs has Homai Vyarawalla, the first Indian female photojournalist. Clearly as can be seen from the photographs, back then the photographers enjoyed close proximity with the political leaders. Those days there were no barriers separating the leaders from the hoi polloi. Many from Bangalore would feel proud to see the picture of General KM Cariappa (later Field Marshal KM Cariappa) standing tall in a group photo at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Kulwant Roy also went to the warfront. There is a section titled ‘Victory in War’ devoted to pictures from the 1965 Indo-Pak War.

In 1958, Kulwant Roy went on a world tour that spanned 30 countries and took him 3 years. He took a whole lot of photographs. Towards the end of this long tour, he posted the photographs along with negatives to India. Unfortunately, the photographs never reached their destination. They must have got robbed, robbed and discarded or else got lost in transit. For a photographer losing so many photographs is a huge tragedy. For days after his return, Kulwant Roy rummaged through all the dust bins in Delhi but never found the photographs. This tragedy badly affected Kulwant Roy.  He was never the same man again. The only memories of Kulwant Roy’s long foreign trip are a collection of picture post-cards that he sent to near and dear ones along with descriptions and experiences.


Photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser


Photo courtesy: NGMA

A section has exclusive photographs capturing the moods of top leaders during the crucial meeting before the formation of the interim government. There are also rare photos of Jawaharlal Nehru with Indira Gandhi, Indira Gandhi in many moods, Jawaharlal Nehru reading the newspaper, Sardar Vallabhai Patel travelling by a hand-pulled rickshaw, Rajaji auctioning a football and more.

Kulwant Roy was privileged with being the official photographer at both the Indian National Congress and Muslim League sessions. A picture that you cannot miss is one where Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah appear to be arguing perhaps a portent to what was to come – the Partition. That Jinnah who once opposed the Muslim league and was all for secularism and one state, suddenly changed his stance is what many cannot make sense of.

The section of photographs featuring the Indian National Army is very interesting. A couple of them feature Captain Ram Singh who composed the iconic song ‘Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja’ playing the violin heralding the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.


The section ‘Princely States: Sardar Patel and the Princes’ is dedicated to pictures featuring meetings between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and rulers of princely Indian states with regard to the merger of these states with the newly formed Indian union. An administrator par excellence Sardar Patel managed to bring out these mergers with great efficiency.

Kulwant Roy was the first Indian photographer to document the famous Amarnath Yatra. As a caption in the section beautifully puts it, “The pictures eloquently unfold the stories of the mutual dependence between the yatra’s unsung heroes, the pony men, guides and porters and the long and curving lines of pilgrims treading across ice”.


Photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser

Photos of the Badrinath yatra, Kashmir landscapes, beautiful Assamese women, Chamba and rural India showcase Kulwant Roy’s photographic skills. There is also a 1956 portrait of the young Dalai Lama. There are pictures of lanterns and lantern-making units too. Did you know, lanterns were once the largest selling item in the country?

Photographs of the construction of the Bhakra Nangal Dam add more diversity to the collection of Kulwant Roy.


Photo courtesy: literature provided by organiser

The exhibition is definitely worth visiting and is on till the 11th of November.

To know more about Kulwant Roy and his photography check out