True most of Bollywood is now just a caricature of what Indian cinema once was, but its influence on fashion and beauty stays undeniable. Over the past 100 years of cinema, a lot has changed—from technology and CGI to the way our leading ladies appear on-screen. Here’s summing up the best make-up looks from Indian cinema.
1931 Zubeida, Alam Ara
With the release of Adeshir Irani’s first sound movie (or talkies, as they were called), a star was born. Zubeida was one of the first actresses to be featured in Indian cinema, making her debut at an age of mere 12. In Alam Ara, she plays a gypsy girl with wild curls and Clara Bow pout that epitomises the beauty ideals of the decade. This flapper-girl-meets-gypsy-princess look brought the Jazz Age style to Indian shores thanks to her.
1940 Leela Chitnis, Bandhan
Leela stormed on the scene like a hurricane with her controlled mannerism and low-key glamour. Although her career as a leading lady was short-lived, so captivating was her beauty that she became the first movie star to endorse Lux soap. Although she is still remembered for her roles as an idealistic mother, Leela’s doe-eyed gaze, rimmed with kajal and mascara, would become her signature look.
1955, Madhubala, Mr and Mrs 55
Perhaps India’s answer to Audrey Hepburn’s grace and Marilyn Monroe’s glamour, Madhubala was and remains a style icon Bollywood actresses aspire to become even today. In Guru Dutt’s Mr and Mrs 55, she plays the role of a rich, hard-to-get heiress with such charm and grace that’s typical to her alone. Her on-fleek eyebrows and luscious pout became a much sought after look, with women all over the country trying to ape it.
1965 Waheeda Rehman, Guide
Beauty fads may come and go but Waheeda Rehman sets a standard by which all timeless looks shall hereforth be measured. Her go-to look—nude pout, winged eyeliner and a thick glossy braid make her instantly iconic.
1970 Hema Malini, Johny Mera Naam
Maybe a decade to late, but Hema Mailini made the whole ’60s bouffant-and-winged-eyes look wildly popular. This look was then to become a Bollywood staple for quite a few years, but she was the original trendsetter.
1978 Zeenat Aman, Don
Towards the end of the decade, Bollywood broke off with the innocent girl-next-door look and started a dalliance with the vixens and vamps that were to play key roles in the noirs churned out around the time. Zeenat Aman’s smoldering gaze, high cheekbones and honey-coloured skin in Don was to become all the rage, and rightly so.
1981 Rekha, Silsa
Continuing in line with the anti-heroines, Rekha forayed right in with a silent intensity everyone would sit up and take notice of. Her sari-donning “other woman” role in Silsila made a case for a dark pout so strong that till date Rekha is seen sporting it at red carpet events.
1995 Kajol, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
The ’90s were a great time for fashion and beauty in Indian Cinema—we were finally on track with our western counterparts. A clear example of this is Kajol in DDLJ, her matte skin, brown lips and lined eyes serving a template for the trend kicked off.
2001 Kareena Kapoor, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
The 2000s followed in line, mimicking global fashion and beauty trends. Kareena Kapoor’s kohl-rim eyed, frosted lipped character in KKKG was the kind of style icon all college girls needed. Needless to say, this sparked off like a wildfire. I bet you’ll find a Juicy Tube hidden somewhere in your make-up drawer even today.
2016 Katrina Kaif in Baar Barr Dekho
Low and behold, we have screen siren Katrina Kaif donning the look that’s so quintessential 2016, they’ll be learning about it in history textbooks. Beachy waves, contoured face, highlights and a nude pout defines the decade, don’t you agree?