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‘I was on my toes while working in ‘Bajirao Maastani’ and ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’

Kanika Sachdev, an ace fashion designer and alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Design says you have to create costumes keeping in mind the vision of the director



Kanika Sachdev

Kanika is Bachelor in Design from the Apeejay Institute of Design, New Delhi and worked for more than 12 years with prominent fashion designers such as Anju Modi, Varun Bahl and Ritu Kumar before launching her own fashion label. In an interview, she talks about her journey, the experience of working with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, her advice to budding designers, and more.

Tell us about your journey so far?

After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Design, I got an opportunity to work with Varun Bahl as an Assistant Designer for more than 2 years. Then, I worked with Anju Modi as a Head Designer for 6 years. There I got an opportunity to work on costumes for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’ (2015) and ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’(2013). I also assisted Anju Modi with fashion shows. Finally, I worked with Ritu Kumar as a Senior Designer on ready to wear collections for two years. After that in 2018, I launched my own fashion label, JAJAABOR, along with my husband, who is also a fashion designer. The name JAJAABOR in Assamese means “nomad”. Fortunately, things are going pretty well as of now. You can check out our collections at or at our Instagram and Facebook page. Our products are also available at prominent online fashion stores.

Kanika Sachdev’s collections

What is it like to work in the movie industry? 

It’s quite challenging. You have to be on your toes. You have to come up with costumes keeping in mind the vision of the directors and theme of the scene/movie.  Someone like Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for being a stickler for perfection. We had to do a lot of iterations on the costumes in a stipulated time based on the inputs of Sanjay Leela Bhansali Sir. Under Anju Modi, we had styled Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’, and ‘Bajirao Maastani’. You have to bring your ‘A’ game. Sometimes we had to arrange a costume within 24 hours. Also, I remember we had to send duplicate costumes for the shooting of songs as dancing involves a lot of movement and in case there’s a wear and tear with a costume its replacement should be readily available.

All this exercise must require a team effort?

Yes, it’s a humongous exercise which requires active contribution from everyone. Someone develops the embroidery, another one looks at the print, and then there are others who look at the pattern. There are many elements that go into costume making. We have to work as a well-oiled machine.

What are the most important lessons you have learned in your career?

I would like to caution budding designers that don’t be in a hurry to launch your fashion label. There is so much to learn before that. When you work with a designer or a prominent company, apart from designing sensibilities, you absorb a lot of other nitty-gritty, including consumer taste and preferences, and how to market your product.  When I worked with Anju Modi I got a chance to closely interact with artisans and learned about handicraft weaving. Similarly, with Ritu Kumar, I got an insight into the production. All this experience played a key role in launching my own label and in the development of my own distinct style. My husband too has over 15 years of experience in fashion designing. We launched our brand only after going through the grind.  We were also lucky enough to get into the Lakme Fashion Week’s Gen Next programme. Every year, this programme introduces a fresh crop of emerging designers. That’s how we got an opportunity to showcase our collections at the Lakme Fashion Week.

What is the biggest misconception outsiders have about fashion designers?

They think we are darzi (tailor). But, fashion designing is one of the most viable creative professions in India. Apart from becoming a fashion designer, you can be a fashion illustrator, fashion coordinator, fashion consultant, visual merchandiser or a stylist.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]