Imagine Mogambo in a lungi instead of that iconic black and gold suit, or the late Bal Thackeray in a shirt and trousers instead of his trademark white kurta-pyjama and orange scarf. That just sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Thanks to Madhav Agasti, many political leaders and Bollywood characters have found themselves topping the stylish men’s list.
A fashion designer with a smiling face, Agasti has dressed many Bollywood bigwigs and political leaders. Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Nana Patekar, along with the late Vilasrao Deshmukh and Uddhav Thackeray have all been styled by this diminutive man. He continues to style upcoming actors but rues, “Heroes are all normal people. The fun was when the villains were larger than life. Now, every character has negative and positive shades, and they are portrayed as regular people.” Before gazing at a sherwani and wondering if it would look good on his client, he adds, “Bollywood styling was interesting because of over the top villains”.
Agasti’s own journey is not very different from a Hindi movie script. Back in the 1960s, he boarded a train from Nagpur to Mumbai, with a few hundred rupees and a dream. His road to fame, however, started in 1979, when he got his first big break to work on the movie Apne Parai.Agasti recalls, “I had been designing clothes for people all around me since I was 13, but when I look back at my journey now, I can never forget styling clothes for Amrish Puri (as Mogambo) and the late P.V Narasimha Rao.” Mogambo as a villain is unforgettable partly because of that heavily embroidered suit. The styling for Puri in the film was exaggerated, all blingy black with gold epaulettes, tassels and a red pop. Unusual clothing was one of the biggest contributions towards this iconic character.
While making waves in the fashion designing world back then with his clothes for villainous characters, many others started trusting him with their clothes. Out of the many that came looking for him, some were the power dressers of India. From Sharad Pawar to Narayan Rane and from L.K.Advani to Manohar Joshi, all are known to trust Agasti with their clothes. “They all have certain preferences that you need to take care of. They depend on me for colour selection and styling, and I want to make sure that I give them the best” says Agasti, as he ponders over different shades of black to select from. At my pointing out that all those shades look the same, he is quick to disagree, “Every material has its own shade of colour, and each kurta or sherwani will look different depending on the material I use”. Currently working along with his two sons, Rahul and Shantanu, Agasti still styles people in power.
His list of clients right now include Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, practicing senior counsel of the Supreme Court of India, Indu Malhotra, former Minister of Law and Justice Kapil Sibal and several others. Happy with his clientele, Agasti says, “I have no future plans, except that I want to keep all my clients happy”.