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Veteran costume designer Ghulam Bhai is no more
- Vijay Shanker

April 5, 2022

Mumbai based veteran costume designer Ghulam Rasool, popularly known as Ghulam Bhai, left for his heavenly abode on January 25, 2022. He is survived by his son Sajid known as Raju, daughter-in-law and grandchild. During the lockdown, he almost retired from work and was also suffering from arthritis and heart ailments. He was 80 years old.

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Ghulam was the most prominent costume designer in Mumbai, having designed costumes for several personalities from the film industry, classical dancers and actors from the theatre world as well.

Hailing from Varanasi (UP), Ghulam arrived in Mumbai as a young boy of 16 and started assisting his uncle - in stitching and designing costumes - who was then working with professional costume designers like Bhanu Athaiya, Shalini Shah etc. Incidentally Bhanu Athaiya won an Oscar for having designed costumes for the internationally acclaimed film, Sir Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi'; she expired recently after her lifelong contribution to the world of costumes.

Ghulam Rasool with Hema Malini
Ghulam Rasool with Hema Malini

Ghulam later became an independent costume designer and designed costumes for film personalities Vyjayantimala Bali, Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, Hema Malini, Archana Joglekar and classical dancers like Protima Bedi, Surupa Sen, Bijayini Satpathy, Asha Joglekar, Daksha Mashruwala, Jhelum Paranjape, Sandhya Purecha, Nivedita Mukherjee and the list is endless. Ghulam was quite a humble person with a lot of creative ideas, which would be implemented in his colourful costumes according to the requirement and need of the artiste.

Surupa Sen, ardent disciple of Protima Bedi says, "In my presence, he would cut the clothes so creatively and after the costume was stitched, it would look amazing. He had fine sense of measurement and after the costume was ready, he would ask us to try it on and would make changes accordingly, without any hesitation whatsoever."

Odissi exponent Nivedita Mukherjee says, "I do not know about his education qualification but he was an intelligent man and his sense of colours was amazing. I was working on the dance drama 'Kanupriya' and had taken sarees of different colours and he suggested that I must use the blue colour and when the costume was stitched it looked really beautiful. He did attend the performance to see how it looked on the stage. He had wonderful memory power, remembered all the names of the students which was really surprising."

For Jhelum Paranjape, "Ghulam bhai was a person I really respect, due to his fine nature and wonderful craftsmanship. 34 years back, I had to get ready the costumes of my students; most of them being poor, they could not afford, so I would pay Rs 5 for each costume. He was so touched that he said that he would like to contribute too, and hence accepted the minimum charge, which showed his generosity and magnanimity."

Ghulam Rasool with Rajashri Shirke
Ghulam Rasool with Rajashri Shirke

Rajashri Shirke is full of praise for his meticulous execution. "Since 2000, Ghulam bhai has designed all the costumes for my productions. He would sit along with me and make the costumes according to the requirement and the character enacted. He was meticulous and had a lot of patience. I really salute him."

For Guru Deepak Mazumdar, "What was most striking about his personality was his simplicity and soft nature and his costumes were brilliantly designed. We must now support his son Raju, who takes the legacy forward."

Vijay Shanker
Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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