Discover some of the best set designs and costumes from Indian Bollywood movies by filmmaker, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, showcasing the diverse Indian culture!

India is a land of diverse culture and this is best showcased in Bollywood. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, an Indian film director and producer has made critically acclaimed films, some of which are even more memorable because of their set designs and costumes than their story or commercial success.

In a lot of his films, Bhansali has showcased Indian culture through costumes, backdrops, dance and drama. As such, the movies place a strong emphasis on cinematography – where storytelling is not just about dialogue and expression – but also about details. Like the lady protagonist’s saree sweeping the floor after her while she runs from a magnanimous iron door across a double-height portico to see her lover once before he dies. Perhaps that’s what the audiences love.

So, here’s a collection of the set designs, costumes and other tiny details of the movies of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the maestro of Indian film industry.

Bollywood Movie Bajirao Mastani Set Design & Costumes

This film is about the 18th century love story of a Maratha king, Bajirao Peshwa. The stone studded hats, the lip-covering nose rings, the colossal earrings, the nine-yard sari – all have done justice to the Chhatrapati kingdom fashion. In the Marathi tradition, the fourth day moon is believed to be as pretty as a beautiful woman, hence the crescent shaped bindi. The two lovely ladies, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, both have plenty of gorgeous Marathi costumes here, a style that I think suits the former even more than it does the latter!

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Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam Set Design & Costumes

This movie is a love-story set within a Gujarati family, shot in Gujarat-Rajasthan borders with lots of vernacular architecture in the backdrops. Plus there’s loads of colorful costumes that are very typical of Gujaratis, like saree styles, turbans, et al. Plus there’s the beautiful dances like garba and rituals like karva chauth.

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Devdas Set Design & Costumes

Devdas is my favorite. It is truly a work of art – with extravagant costumes, gorgeous sets, goosebump-giving dialogue and some spectacular durga puja dance! Bengali women are shown as what they really are – immensely confident and intrepid! The two here are Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit Nene. And you get to see their ornate jewelry, the big round bindis and the alta on palms.

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Ramleela Set Design & Costumes

Ramleela is a fierce love story of two lovers – Ram and Leela, from rival villages shot in Rajasthan. Colorful ghagra-cholis are their thing, be it for formal events or house chores -they are always draped in one of these. Plus loads of pencil eyeliner and silver jewelry, and they also wear temporary or permanent tattoos on their necks and the back of palms. And it’s also common for men to have ear piercings.

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So that’s the extravagance of Indian Bollywood movies (and some of Rajasthani, Gujarati, Bengali and Marathi cultures!) Which movie’s set design and costumes did you like the most? Which grand palace (or haveli) out of these would be your dream destination? Let me know below. 🙂


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