Days after the highly anticipated release of the Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti show, ‘Made In Heaven’ on Amazon Prime Video, celebrity designer Tarun Tahiliani has called out the makers for calling his work that of a ‘fictitious designer’. Tahiliani voiced his grievances on Instagram, accusing the makers of incorporating his clothing brand into the series and attributing them to a fictional designer named Akshay Jaiswal, played by Kashyap Baldev in the second episode. The episode also features Mrunal Thakur, who, according to Tahiliani, wore garments from his brand in the episode.
“It is most unfortunate when a popular OTT series violates the understanding behind the provision of clothing in the first place! Case in point: Significant portions of the second episode of ‘Made in Heaven,’ were styled using clothes provided by the Tarun Tahiliani studio in good faith to the stylist. (sic),” Tahiliani wrote on Instagram along with images of Mrunal dressed in his designs.
The designer further expressed his disappointment and wrote, “Unfortunately, a fictitious designer (actor) representing a fictitious label presented our garments! This is a shocking breach of faith. If this is what the production house intended, they should have engaged a costume designer, had costumes designed, and proceeded as they saw fit. (sic).” The designer concluded his post with the hope that such incidents would not occur in future. “Let’s hope that this scenario does not repeat itself with other designers who have graciously lent their work for OTT productions. Furthermore, it is our hope that such actions will never be considered acceptable in the future. Tarun Tahiliani. (sic).”
Before Tahiliani, Yashica Dutt, an alumnus of Columbia University and the author of ‘Coming Out As Dalit’, had also alleged that the duo had created a character based on her life, without her permission and proper credits. The role was played by Radhika Apte in Episode 5. Zoya Akhtar had refuted Yashica’s claim in a comprehensive post.
Accusations of not giving credit and taking permission are a dime-a-dozen in Bollywood. However, where does the Hindi film industry draw the line between ‘giving credit’ and blatant violation of privacy? Commenting on the repeated instances of not giving credit where it is due, designer Amy Billimoria says, “It is a moral responsibility to give credit to the right person. You cannot use someone’s work without giving them credit. Mostly, the stylists are very new in the industry and they don’t understand the importance of this aspect but makers should at least play a fair game. You can’t use someone’s work without credit. It is important to observe the correct protocol.”
Designer Chandrakant Sonawane, known for designing clothes for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Bajirao Mastani, says that showcasing someone’s clothes that are given in good faith and not giving credit is a breach of trust. “When a designer gives their creations for a show, they make a deal – whether they need the credit or not. This is all decided at the time the clothes are given. Even if you don’t give credit, you can’t call them yours,” he says.
Climbing over someone else's shoulder
Interestingly, the first episode of the season shows ace designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee in a cameo. In one of the scenes, the designer is seen helping the fictional bride try on his brand of lehengas. Was Tahiliani alluding to this, when he wrote, “If this is what the production house intended, they should have engaged a costume designer, had costumes designed, and proceeded as they saw fit. (sic).” But Amy, however, feels that Tahiliani doesn’t need to be seen in the show to showcase his work. “He is a veteran designer. He has been in the industry decades before Sabyasachi. He doesn’t need to fit in any brackets. But if you don’t give credit, it’s a question of integrity. It shows that everyone just wants to climb over someone else’s shoulder,” she says.
Many designers in the past have confessed that films and shows bring the clothes alive when they are worn by celebrities. “But that doesn’t mean they don’t need credit for their work. In many cases, when designers give their clothes to celebrities for an event, there is no hard and fast rule for giving credit but if the designer lends his creation as a courtesy, it’s a nice gesture to give credit to them,” says Delhi-based fashion designer Anupama Virmani.