Festivals love celebrities, especially the ones in the entertainment industry. Every year, actors and actresses put their best foot forward and dress up in enviable, aspirational clothes, make up and hair. In India, the Holi and Diwali look of Bollywood stars never fails to make news or ruffle sentiments (and wallets) of the lesser ones. We want to look like them, feel like them, and take photos like them.
And now, as if India did not have enough of its own indigenous festivals to celebrate, Bollywood stars have started adopting news fads from the West. What are we talking about? Halloween, obviously.
For the past few years, Halloween is growing as a “festival" in India with many young Indians and celebrities bringing in All Saints’ Day with costumes, parties, even trick-or-treating. But in India, the success of a trend is often measured by the number of celebrities and B-Towners propagating it.
This year, Halloween saw a host of celebrities play dress-up and post photos on social media.
From Sonam Kapoor and husband Anand Ahuja cosplaying as Anarkali and Salim from the cult 1960 film Mughal-E-Azam to Bipasha Basu and Karan Grover dressed up as agents from the Men In Black franchise, most citizens of Tinsel Town tried to let their hair loose and mostly just participate and compete with their Western counterparts.
Here come the Men In Black… Galaxy Defenders ☠️ Presenting Agent M a nd Agent J ❤️#happyhalloween #ayazkhanbashView this post on Instagram
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Frieda Kahlo was a popular option this year with both Swara Bhasker and Sunny Leone dressing up as the artist.
Not just them, a whole lot of celebrities showed their “wicked" side with smoky eyes, cat costumes, extravagant wigs and flashy outfits.
But was Halloween always such a thing with B-Towners?
Turns out, it wasn’t. It was only the past couple of years that saw a majority of Bollywood celebs warm up to the idea of cosplaying for Halloween. Even in 2015, there weren’t as many celebrities dressing up in outfits for Halloween as this year.
However, with the rich, ever-increasing Indian melange of festivals, did we really need yet another day to put on flashy clothes and hit the streets?
The answer is, why not? After all, for actors in B-Town, it’s just another day for looking like they always do - fabulous and unattainable. With the increase of social media use in India, celebrities probably realise the importance of keeping up with world-trends. Twitter and Instagram have also helped many Indian celebrities discover international trends.
Cosplaying itself has grown as art over the years among Indians. Many young anime and science-fiction/fantasy enthusiasts organise cosplay events around the year where participants and attendees are expected to come dressed like their favourite superheroes, supervillains, or even real-life personalities. Comic Con is an annual gathering of such cosplay enthusiasts and takes placein Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and other metro cities.
While celebration of festivals and occasions is usually a good thing, who really suffers from this co-option of Halloween in India? It’s us non-celebs who have to keep up with the burgeoning pressure to stay on top of the festive look game.
With Halloween now added to the list of “dress-up-and-take-photo-for-Instagram" festivals like Diwali, Holi, Durga Puja, Eid and Christmas, for most of us, it’s yet another expense and yet another pressure to meet societal expectations and look “cool". After all, that ghoulish makeup takes time (Halloween is still not a public holiday in India so offices work just like any other day) and that silky smooth wig and accurate Wonder Woman costume (obviously) does not come cheap.