Saree Revolution in Bollywood: An Enduring Love Affair on the Silver Screen

Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry, has always been a trendsetter when it comes to fashion. Among the myriad styles and clothing choices, one traditional garment that has stood the test of time and continues to captivate the imagination of generations is the saree. From the inception of the film industry, the saree has played a significant role in shaping Bollywood’s fashion landscape. Let’s embark on a journey through the decades to explore the fascinating evolution of the saree on the silver screen.

The 1940s and 1950s: Embodying Demure Elegance

Nargis In Shree 420
Waheeda Rehman in Pyaasa 1957

The 1940s and 1950s were characterized by the lingering influence of colonial fashion. The sarees adorned by actresses like Nargis and Waheeda Rehman were a reflection of the era’s demure and understated style. Neatly-pleated and crisply-draped sarees were the norm, in harmony with the classic fashions of the time. The saree was an emblem of grace and sophistication, reflecting the cultural heritage of India.

The 1960s: A Glamorous Style Evolution

Sadhana in waqt
Mumtaz in Bhramachari

With the 1960s came a glamorous transformation in Bollywood’s fashion landscape. Bengali cinema’s influence brought forward the opulence and grandeur of Meena Kumari’s sarees. The era saw the emergence of iconic styles such as Sadhana’s tightly-wound drapes and Mumtaz’s flamboyant orange saree-gown, which possibly set the concept of the modern sari-gown we know today. Experimentation with saree styles was at its peak, exemplified by Vajyanthimala’s red and white, pom-pom-applique saree in the movie “Jewel Thief.”

The 1970s: Fashion Forward Divas

Hema Malini In Johny Mera Naam

In the vibrant and fashion-forward 1970s, the Bollywood divas of the era left an indelible mark on the saree’s evolution. Jaya Bachchan, with her effortless charm, made the simple saree a household influence, adding a touch of 70s flair to her ensembles. On the other hand, the ever-elegant Hema Malini and the bold and beautiful Zeenat Aman brought fashion to the forefront with their unique takes on the saree. They popularized knotted blouses and modern styling, making a strong statement on the silver screen and inspiring fashion trends that resonated with audiences across the nation. The 1970s marked an exciting era in Bollywood’s love affair with the saree, where experimentation and individuality took center stage.

The 1980s: Sensual Elegance and Iconic Glamour

Rekha and Jaya Bachchan in silsila
Sridevi in Chandni

The 1980s marked a celebration of the saree’s sensual and body-hugging avatar in Bollywood. Yash Chopra, known for his romantic films, showcased the saree’s allure through Rekha’s iconic flowy crepe and chiffon drapes in the movie “Silsila.” Sridevi’s diaphanous and brightly-hued chiffon sarees in “Chandni” and “Mr. India” added a touch of ethereal elegance to the decade’s fashion scene. The saree became synonymous with 80s glamour, captivating audiences across the nation.

The 1990s: Saree Reinvented

Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hai Kaun
Ravina In Mohra
Aishwarya Rai in hum dil de chuke sanam

The 1990s witnessed a re-imagining of the saree on the Bollywood screen. Madhuri Dixit’s backless blouse saree in “Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!” captured the imagination of a generation and became the most talked-about saree of its time. Similarly, Raveena Tandon’s flutter-sleeve bright yellow saree in “Mohra” became an instant hit, setting new trends in the fashion world.

The 2010s: From Traditional to Contemporary

Katrina Kaif in Singh is Kinng
Deepika Padukone in Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani
Katrina Kaif in Agnipath
Priyanka Chopra in Dostana

As Bollywood moved into the 2010s, the saree continued to undergo a transformation. Deepika Padukone’s low-draped saree redefined wedding cocktail glamour, bringing a modern twist to traditional draping styles. Katrina Kaif’s portrayal of a traditional Koli Kashta saree in “Singh is Kinng” showcased the versatility of the garment, re-imagining its place in contemporary fashion. From elegant red carpet appearances to scintillating item numbers, the six-yard drape established itself as the most-covered clothing of choice in Bollywood.


The saree’s journey in Bollywood has been nothing short of extraordinary, mirroring the ever-changing facets of Indian fashion and culture. From the classic elegance of the 1940s to the glamorous and sensual avatars of the 2010s, the saree remains a symbol of timeless style on the silver screen. Its evolution over the decades highlights Bollywood’s profound influence on fashion trends and showcases the enduring love affair between Bollywood and the saree. As the industry continues to evolve, we eagerly await the next chapter in the saree revolution in Bollywood.

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