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Sabyasachi Mukherjee transforms brides in Indian TV reality show

What’s most important to a bride? To look her very best on her big day. And when you know that look will be broadcast across the world, you just can’t have it wrong.

So, what do you do? You get help from one of the biggest names in glamour.

NDTV Good Times show Band Baajaa Bride with Sabyasachi, does exactly that. The reality show gives handpicked brides-to-be a makeover before their wedding, working with leading names of the Indian fashion and wellness industry. And for the all important bridal dress, they’ve picked ace designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee.

“The bridal outfit is a gift given to the bride and her family by Sabyasachi,” said Mukherjee, who will be in Dubai this weekend with his new and “very different” collection Opium. “We put in a great amount of effort and time in craftsmanship and variety of techniques. The idea is that the bridal lehenga [a two-piece blouse and skirt set] should be part of heirloom and stay in the family for generations.”

From brides to stars — think Sridevi, Vidya Balan, Aishwarya Rai and Oprah Winfrey, who sought him out on her visit to India a couple of years ago — Mukherjee will be part of the Band Baajaa Bride team for the third season.

We caught up with the designer on the eve of his show at Raffles Hotel, Dubai. Excerpts:

Q: How did you get involved with Band Baajaa Bride?

A: The channel approached me for it and I thought it was a great platform to understand brides.

Q: Tell us about your role in the show — at what stage do you get involved in the designing of the bridal outfit? Are you involved in the overall look of the bride too and not just the dress?

A: We have to make clothes for brides who have deep aspirations from us as designers. We can’t afford to meet the bride because it usually takes around two-three months to put the wedding outfit together and we only have four-five days to put it together. In spite of all the chaos, we have managed to dress up all the brides and grooms to their expectations and I’m very grateful for that.

Q: This season’s show claims to be different from earlier ones. Can you explain how?

A: This season, we’re dressing up both the bride and the groom. We are also not mentoring the bride on physical beauty alone, but also on inner beauty and evolving their mind as well. We’re looking at taboo subjects such as second marriages — it’s all very interesting.

Q: With Indian weddings getting bigger and more “Bollywood” type, what do the brides ask for, especially because their wedding is screened around the world?

A: Each bride has her own story, expectations, whims and fancies. We make sure to choose brides that are very distinct, what they ask for is always different but not necessarily more “Bollywoodian”. On an individual’s wedding day, they prefer to be dressed as true to their identity, just with a little more oomph. And we don’t recommend otherwise.

Q: Have you encountered a difficult bride? Or do they all accept your ideas easily?

A: We work with the brides to create something that is true to what they want, you’re dressing them on a day and in an outfit they have fantasised for years. We try to get to know each bride and groom as much as possible and understand their conception — then work backwards and create something that suits them. Of course, as it’s designed and made by my brand and artisans, the brand of Sabyasachi Mukherjee is all over.

Q: Actress Vidya Balan was on the show with you. She’s been your muse for a long time now. How does she help you on the sets?

A: Vidya has great energy and is a complete natural in front of the camera. I think it helps just having another friendly face on set to shoot with.

Q: How can Indian designers use digital media, including television, to take our fashion to the world?

A: I don’t use Band Baajaa Bride only as a forum to make pretty clothes. I aim to use this platform to neutralise taboos and views about the wedding market. The show helps me understand the psyche of India and its people. Whether they are from a small town, a village, a tier 2 city, a metro or even the NRI community — the spectrum of brides who write into the show is so wide that it really helps us in our perspective and reach out to the world.

Don’t Miss It

Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s ‘Opium’ collection uses more lace, applique and nudes in gowns, shirt dresses and waistcoats.

“Yes, Indian textiles are very important to me. They are the soul and DNA of my brand. [Opium] is inspired by the ’20s. It’s rich with a baroque feel. There is an oriental influence, reminiscent of the oriental life in Burma [Myanmar] or Shanghai. ‘Opium’ brings memories of sultry nights entrenched in sensuality. At the time, there were opium clubs that were very decadent. There is an air of mystery, dark and brooding.”

‘Opium’ will be on display at Raffles Hotel Dubai on February 27 and 28. Thursday 10am to 8pm and Friday 2pm to 8pm.