bollywood: 2 posts

Can You Bottle Bollywood?

Today it’s fashionable to proclaim one’s mastery of minimalism and a clutter-free lifestyle. Open any fashion magazine, and you’ll be treated to endless spreads of high key photographs flooded with white light and suggestions on how to make your life perfectly streamlined. I like Marie Kondo as much as the next person, but there is only so much minimalism I can take. So I seek refuge in Bollywood and its world where the idea of “less is more” means only that thing invented by the 6th century Indian mathematicians–zero.


The topic of Bollywood and perfume is the subject of my weekly FT column, Can You Bottle Bollywood?

“Many people outside the Bollywood sphere of influence find the genre puzzling. Everything is over the top — the acting, the plots, the songs, the outfits. But for me, it’s “cinema that exists slightly outside the everyday world”, in the words of writer Rana Dasgupta. This fantasy space is shared by perfumes, intangible messages in a bottle. So, those wishing to take a break from KonMaring their sock drawers and making their apartment look like an Ikea showroom are welcome to follow along with me. Please continue here.”

Are you a fan of Bollywood? Any recommendations for favorite films–and correspondingly opulent perfumes.

Image: Aishwarya Rai’s screenshot from Devdas (2002), via Pinterest.

Opulence and Bollywood Through Perfume

I love Bollywood movies. The women are gorgeous, the men dashing, the good guys saintly, and the villains so evil that they make Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey seem kindhearted. And everyone is ready to break out into a song on the spur of the moment. To an uninitiated audience, Bollywood films can seem odd, at best. The philosophy in costumes, makeup and special effects is “more is more.” The item numbers, song-and-dance sequences, are entirely unrelated to the plot. You have to completely suspend your disbelief on the most basic points. But once you’re used to the characteristic cocktail of songs, tears, love, and tinsel, Bollywood fairy tales can be the best escapist fun.

la chasse

So can perfumes. Recently, when I was enjoying the heady combination of Bollywood and Guerlain Nahéma after a stressful day,  I decided to explore my favorite Indian films through scents.  I selected 10 movies and linked them with fragrances that captured their themes or characters. If you want to get a taste of Bollywood, please read on. Needless to say, the perfumes on my list are as opulent as the Indian cinematic extravaganza.

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  • Armando in Recommend Me a Perfume : August 2019: Actually, it is very close. Yvresse doesn’t have as many spices as Mitsouko (no cloves or cinnamon), but the ripe peach smell is right there in both. I’ve known Yvresse… August 19, 2019 at 6:20pm

  • Armando in Recommend Me a Perfume : August 2019: Thank you for your response! I don’t believe it is possible to assign a gender to a smell. But ever since trying Mitsouko on me for the first time, I… August 19, 2019 at 6:16pm

  • kpaint in Recommend Me a Perfume : August 2019: Do it and waft some my way! I love patchouli in just about all its formulations – green & grassy, rich & dirty, chocolatey, white & clean. I wear everything… August 19, 2019 at 4:36pm

  • Andrea in Recommend Me a Perfume : August 2019: Hello kpaint, thanks for these great suggestions! I’ll try Galop d’Hermes and Tenue de Soiree first. I know, where I can find them. August 19, 2019 at 4:30pm

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