It wouldn’t be wrong to say that designer that would come to most Indian film audiences’ minds on mention of fashion would be Manish Malhotra. Being in the industry for over two decades, the fashion designer has always been known for designing the top ladies of the industry, maintain brilliant rapport with almost the entire industry, host lavish and star-studded fashion shows and even starry parties at his residence. However, reaching this stage was not easy for the 53-year-old as he faced numerous struggles on his way up.
Manish Malhotra opened up on his life story in a recent post for Humans of Bombay. The fashion designer shared how he grew up in a typical Punjabi family where his mother encouraged him to pursue his dreams. He was fascinated with Bollywood films and would watch every film that released.
He stated how academics didn’t interest him much, but painting as a sixth-grader would. Being surrounded by his mother’s clothes, he’d love to give suggestions to her on her fashion sense. He took up modelling during his college days and working at a boutique at that time would only pay his Rs 500 a month then. He revealed how he couldn’t go abroad to study fashion, but sitting and sketching for hours made a big difference to his skills.
His first big break was a film for Juhi Chawla. However, Manish termed Rangeela, a film where made Urmila Matondkar dazzle on screen with some classy outfits, as a ‘turning point’, bagging his first Filmfare Award for the film.
However, there were challenges like producers getting irritated with his questions about the script, since they only wanted him to make the actresses look beautiful. He wanted to do more, travelled the world and learnt new tricks of the trade, before launching his own label in 2005.
He was also known to be extremely close to Sridevi and has now taken her daughter Janhvi under his wings, but how the legendary actor’s death in 2018 turned out be one of the worst phases for him both personally and professionally.
Manish expressed pride about being a fashion designer working with the fourth generation of actors, and on completing three decades in the industry this year. Despite the experience, he is still known to be nervous before his shows. The veteran shared that it reminded him of his identity, where he came from and what he was meant to do.
“I grew up in a typical Punjabi household, where my mom always encouraged me in all that I wanted to do. Growing up, I was always fascinated by Bollywood films and made it a point to watch every single film that was released. But I wasn’t a very good student and found academics boring. In the 6th grade, I remember joining a painting class -- I enjoyed it so much! From watching films, to painting, and being surrounded by mother’s clothes, my love for fashion grew. I used to even give fashion advice to my mom on her sarees! When I got into college, I started modelling, and began working at a boutique. I was there for a year and a half, and all I earned was Rs. 500 a month, but it was worth it. I couldn’t afford to go abroad and study fashion, so that was my school in a way. I’m completely self-taught -- I used to sit and sketch for hours! Finally at the age of 25, I got my big break -- I worked on a film starring Juhi Chawla! But ‘Rangeela’ was a turning point for me -- I won my very first Filmfare award for it! But there were challenges -- I remember producers would get so irritated when I’d ask multiple questions about the storyline. The only brief I had was to make the heroine look glamorous. But I wanted to do more! That’s how my name started going around. I started travelling the world, designing clothes, and then launched my own label in 2005. But it hasn’t been an easy journey… When Sridevi passed away, it was probably one of the worst moments of my life, professionally and personally. But through it all, my work kept me going. I began as a costume designer, and today I’m a fashion designer who’s working with the 4th generation of actors! And this year, I’ll complete 30 years in the industry. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is that, even after all this time, I still get nervous before fashion shows! And I want that to remain the same, because that’s my identity -- it reminds me of who I am, where I’ve come from, and what I’m meant to do.” ---- HOB with @blenderspridefashiontour brings to you stories of those whose individuality has taken center stage, because of their choices and the path they’ve taken with pride. #MyIdentityMyPride