Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla refer to themselves as “Pioneers of High Fashion in India and Coveted Couturiers for 36 years.” They recently had a lavish premiere event for their fashion film Mera Noor Hai Mashhoor starring Huma Qureshi as the lead among a cast of over 40 stars, which also includes supermodel Ujjawala Raut and actor Tarun Arora. The internet sensation Uorfi Javed (one of the most googled celebs in Asia) is also a part of the glamorous movie though she made a lacklustre appearance. The pair of Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla have worked on queer setups before also, most well-known one being their 2005 show.
The film takes influences from ancient Greek ruins, Renaissance era and in the words of the creators “Mera Noor Hai Mashhoor” is an opulent celebration from dusk to dawn, where the art of letting oneself go is the only way to be. It cherishes the harmony of being elegant, yet untamed.” The film also features more than 150 garments from 18 collections. Extending upon their understanding of the film, they further see it as a “powerful lesson on entirely embracing one’s humanness and individuality and the joy of inclusivity.” Perhaps, all these grand ideas are limited to certain kinds of humans, and inclusivity is paid lip service.
As per tribune India, the fashion film starring Huma Qureshi is an ode to self-acceptance and is intended to create an experience where guilt and shame do not exist. At the surface, the film revolves around desire, opulence, opulence, and the aesthetic of abundance. Transgender video essayist Natalie Wynn in her video Opulence, describes what larger meanings does the optics and aesthetics of opulence hold. Taking forward her argument through representation in media, one can aspire to see why this fashion film is a standout. As per Wynn, it’s a mix of success, fantasy, taste, and class and this film attempts to put desire and kinks (to a fair extent) in a queer sense in the familiar mix. Having said that, it’s really up to us to decide if it holds the promise of a guilt-free and shame-free space or is merely a fantasy-based exploration through the optics of fashion.
The class aspect takes precedence here as in 2022, Reliance Brands Limited announced a majority stake in Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla. In terms of what it promises in terms of letting go of guilt and shame and marking a shift towards inclusivity, it is rather a very blind take at inclusivity which is of course tokenistic in nature. For someone who views luxury as holistic or who believes that pandemic was a time for people to think about the look of the wedding they want to have, there’s a lot to unpack about what inclusivity means here.
In the film as well, although we get to see desire of the same-sex nature or of polyamorous nature or of different kinks (with references to BDSM, pup play, dom sub dynamics etc.), the film is set around a heteronormative sense of desire and the display of kins isn’t much of an exploration as much as it is mere presentation or imagery in a lucid sense.
Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with it but art is also a space which has more freedom and space to engage with whatever has been considered transgressional in the society as per traditional norms where related to gender or sexuality or fashion. So when, an angle of inclusivity still takes up the heteronormative as the standard, even with the dual intersection of fashion and media, it’s kind of meh. For one, the grandeur, the glam, the jewels, the body, the models with the bodies of greek gods, and the opulence is absolutely amazing. On the other hand, inclusivity is hardly more than a mere optic. There are a few pertinent points to consider here.
One, we see folks of different genders, sexuality, and also of different ages in various forms of appearance, even with slight references to kinks and BDSM. It’s not difficult to notice that all these people, though diverse in their own right, are, in fact, the very standard definition of what is considered as “conventionally beautiful.” Whether it’s the straight people’s world, or within the queer community where queerness is also unfortunately policed, perfect bodies are still the standard. And there’s nothing wrong with that, yet, guilt, shame, and inclusivity carry heavy meanings, especially the first two, as they are not restricted to any specific body type.
Two, while fashion as an industry has historically held space for queer creators, there’s a lot that goes in behind a fashion show or a movie. If there’s any understanding of intersectional politics to be followed (provided it’s not used as a buzzword), inclusivity would be having as much inclusivity behind the scenes – in the backend management, in the artists who put in their labor, and in all the aspects people have contributed to the film.
Mera Noor Hai Mashhor is all about the glam, opulence, and desire but lacks any steady depth to actually trace how desire in itself can be portrayed through the lens of inclusivity. Even with a good production value and a applaudable step for including queer desire, it doesn’t seem inclusive. Perhaps, its biggest “sin” is to have Uorfi herself in the film and yet fail to capture the icon status she stands for in terms of reveling in sexuality and desire while fighting off the moral brigade.