From ‘Devdas’ To ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I,’ Aishwarya’s Tryst With Iconic Jewellery On The Big Screen


Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s sartorial experiments on the big screen have had a massive impact on trend charts and the way we perceive costume design in films. Ranging from Dhoom 2‘s sultry bodysuits to Devdas’ traditional jewellery and ethereal tant sarees, Aishwarya has time and again, exhibited her deep relationship with style. After her last visit to the big screen in 2018’s Fanney Khan and 2016’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, where she weaved the dreams of every makeup junkie, this time Aishwarya returns with a larger-than-life role. Bigger than the silver screen, Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan: I has provided cinema lovers with a lot to talk about. From dreamlike frames, serene landscapes, and the world of the Chola Dynasty, the period drama in no time has entered into conversations between fashion nerds. 

For critics of cinema costumes, the film has a lot more to offer. Besides the jewellery headlined by every character in the film, Aishwarya Rai returns with a box of trendsetting treasures. For the 48-year-old star, the film seems like a familiar territory to experiment with. Apart from it being her fourth collaboration with the celebrated filmmaker, her character Nandini is built from the nuances of popular women from the history books. Much like her role as Jodhaa Bai in the 2008 film–Jodhaa Akbar, Aishwarya stitches her persona well. So, here we are reminiscing the many times, Aishwarya rekindled our love for jewellery on the big screen. 

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam 1999

For filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the aesthetic value of every film has to be impactful. The filmmaker, known for his grand sets, and elaborate world-building, gave us some very popular songs and characters to cherish. One of which was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, starring Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai. Besides the two actors and their onscreen chemistry, Aishwarya built a variety of trends through her character Nandini. Envisioned by costume designer duo Neeta Lulla and Shabina Khan, the 1999 film provided us with show-stopping aqua blue lehenga in “Nimbooda,” and Navratri style essentials. While building the wardrobe for Nandini, elaborate jewellery became an important aspect for the makers to ponder upon. The platter ranged from dance-appropriate neckpieces and matha pattis to emotional scene-worn oxidised jewellery. Designer chokers became as popular as diamond string neckpieces, to match both blue and romantic purple lehengas on the actress. Besides decorating her neck, Aishwarya’s Nandini introduced fresh jewellery designs for braided tresses as well. 


Devdas 2002

Another film that brought Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s cinematic genius to the big screen was his 2002 film–Devdas. Accompanying great performances were monumental sets, sparkle-laden chandeliers, popular dance tracks and of course costume design. Apart from Madhuri Dixit’s “Maar Daala” and her jugal bandi with co-star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in“Dola Re” every scene exhibited the Bhansali magic. What added to the grandeur was Aishwarya’s Paro and her sparkling taste in traditional jewellery. The costume collaborators for this narrative were the pioneers of Indian fashion–Neeta Lulla and designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, who also won the National Award for the same. Her mesmerising white and red sarees found a match in raani haars, ear danglers, haath phool, combined with Bengali shakha-pola bangles.


Umrao Jaan 2006

Replicating the sartorial brilliance of 1981’s Umrao Jaan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s updated version of the film, with the same title was spectacular in every scene. Reimagining the courtesan costumes that have had a historic presence on celluloid, filmmaker JP Dutta assigned Jaipur-based Golcha’s Jewels to take the charge of his film’s jewellery. From south pearls to emerald-encrusted rings, the Mughal era found its way through the character costumes. Sporting qawwali hats, with diamond drop brooches and paasaas (one-sided matha pattis), the film stitched the regal aesthetic well. 



Jodhaa Akbar 2008

In filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker’s another stint with period drama, jewellery stood out and carved a presently relevant trend. With Aishwarya diving deep into the characteristics of Jodhaa bai, her costume had to be royal at best. Again mastered by designer Neeta Lulla, Aishwarya’s brocade blouses, flouncy lehengas and colourful veils, were adorned with ethereal jewellery designed by Tanishq. The culturally combined film also weaved the traditions of Rajputs and the Mughals through its character wardrobes. On Aishwarya, we spotted significant incorporation of Rajasthani borlas (forehead charms), monumental nose rings and chokers matched with statement neckpieces. The historically-accurate designs helped the world of Jodhaa Akbar package its narrative with authenticity. 


Also Read: ‘PS-1’ Trailer: Mani Ratnam’s Epic Promises Grand Scale, Powerful Performances From Aishwarya And Karthi

Ponniyin Selvan-I 2022

For filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s new adventure with storytelling, PS-I has audiences surprised with its world. Besides the ensemble cast, A R Rahman’s music and Mani Ratnam’s onscreen magic, costume designer–Eka Lakhani and jewellers Kishandas & Co. converted their temple visits and costume researches into the film’s wardrobe. Based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s novel, the historic saga of the Chola era remained visible on these treasures. For the 150-year-old brand, the task of curating jewellery was a rather fascinating drill. Besides neck accessories, embellished kaan chain, and jewellery for massive hair buns, turned into one of the most show-stopping pieces in the collection. Armlets were joined by jadau, real gold chokers and traditionally-appropriate temple jewels. 


Tell us your favourite character jewellery sported by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in films.

Image Credits: Jasveen Kaur Sawhney

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Jasveen Kaur Sawhney

Jasveen Kaur is a fashion writer, and pyjama hoarder, who loves watching interviews of all kinds, and checking her Pinterest mood board every hour!

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