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MUMBAI:Tu trend setter ban gaya,” Navjot Singh Sidhu told fellow cricket expert Murali Kartik after a studio show during IPL 2016. Sidhu himself is known for his crisp, delectable formal attire with colourful turbans and contrasting ties. To be complimented for his dressing sense by the ex-India opener is the best praise that Kartik has received.
Kartik, the 39-year-old former India left-arm spinner, stood out among the experts who regularly did the pre and post-match shows for the official broadcasters of IPL. He was simply the best dressed cricket pundit, and easily, by miles. Even when he did commentary from the grounds in the uniform that the commentators were given, some of the cricketers told him that he was the “best-dressed commentator”.
Being friends for a long time with Shantanu of the Shantanu-Nikhil designer-duo fame, Kartik has tried out dresses designed by them, for the studio shows.
If it was draped bandhgala with a subtle South Indian touch one day, it was a peach-draped kurta teamed with a chic bandi another day. For him, it was a welcome change from the routine team wear like T-shirts, track pants and hoodies during his playing days, and also the commentators’ formal uniform during an international series.
How did Kartik become fashion conscious? “I have been working in the media for the last seven-eight years. When you are playing, you are in your own team kit and stuff like that. When you are doing media work, there is a certain decorum. There is a certain dress code when you are working as a TV analyst or a commentator. My wife (Shweta) has always helped me with that. What I wore during IPL studio shows this year was a different style of dressing. It’s more formal with an Indian touch.
Kartik made it a point to tweet a photo of himself in the designer wear before every show. “Shantanu-Nikhil had a story to tell with every outfit that I wore. That’s what I like,” he said.
While it was tough to pick up the best among what he has worn in the last one month, Kartik was impressed by the designer duo’s “sharp styling, sharp couture, drapes with a bit of Indian ethnic touch.”
Kartik has appeared in a different ethnic designer wear every time he did the studio shows. He has matched his top with tight-fitting trousers that were not really till ankle. They were complemented with leather shoes and invisible socks, each pair going with what he was wearing. With his beard and moustache, Kartik is truly a fashion icon.
Kartik loves to dress suitably for the occasion, be it a Pathani suit, a Pathani pyjama kurta, a simple jacket and tie, or even without a tie as per the requirement. When he is not behind the microphone summing up the proceedings on the cricket ground or in front of the camera giving his expert opinions, Kartik chills in his pyjamas and singlet in his free time.
He has not seriously walked the ramp in the fashion weeks though he is a regular only for the Shantanu-Nikhil events. He did walk the ramp a couple of times. “I was the showstopper for Manish Malhotra and also at an IPL awards nite in Mumbai.”
Designer Shantanu was elated to dress up his friend for the occasion. “Kartik has always been a very sharp dresser.
Shantanu said that Kartik’s outfits were about tradition mixed with contemporary construction. “That is why a lot of bandhgalas, a lot of draped pieces, some waistcoats with Nehru collars, draped kurtas, something that someone like him can carry off quite comfortably,” he explained.
“The idea was to keep that whole traditional stereotype to have a contemporary take. Kartik is one of those young Indian dynamic cricketers who can carry something. He is fit and pretty much embodies the transcultural brand. It was also different from the rest. He did a good job. Kartik is young, fits into our profile. He pretty much embodied what we stand as a brand.”
Shantanu said that the near-ankle length trousers that Kartik wore is what Indian fashion is heading to. “I would say such trousers have always been in. We did a skinny fit for him, the length almost exposing the ankles so that he could wear his shoes without socks. This is the new age Indian wear that you will see transforming.” he said. “How else to give a little twist to the otherwise traditional attire? Wearing a bandhgala, skinny-fit trousers where the length is almost till the ankle and with a jutti gives the twist.”
Shantanu and Nikhil are not new to dressing up cricketers. They have done personal wardrobes for Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh while also styling the Mumbai Indians jerseys. “But Kartik is the first we dressed a cricketer for a complete project,” Shantanu said.