Manish Arora uses fashion to comment on the experiences of widows in his beautiful short film, Holi Holy, set in Varanasi during the festival of Holi.

manish arora fashion film, holi holy

(Some) fashion has the potential to encourage critical discourse beyond, say, the best shade of pink to wear this fall, and Manish Arora’s film does just that.

manish arora holi holy film

Herewith, 3 reasons why we love this short film, followed by the video for your viewing pleasure:

1. “This film celebrates widows of Varanasi who broke a centuries old tradition and played holi for the first time in 2013.” The dark-lit scenes contrast with the white saris and bright holi colours, in this short film based on real events. You can’t help but feel the weight of the archaic traditions (where widows are excluded and secluded from society) break away, if only for a few moments, as these women participate in this seemingly simple act.

2. The models don’t look like your average models because they’re real people. The main actress, Bishi Bhattacharya (who also composed and sang the background score) is tall and “plus-sized,” and the other women who wear Manish Arora’s couture pieces don’t fit traditional model measurements either…so now we know how we would look in a Manish Arora dress – pretty damn fabulous.

3. The short film, directed by Parsons grad and photographer, Bharat Sikka, and styled and conceptualized by Manish Arora, won several awards at the A Shaded View On Fashion Film Festival in Paris, including the Grand Prix, Best Sound and the Best Emerging Talent Prize.


Watch Holi Holy, a short film by Manish Arora and Bharat Sikka

If that’s piqued your interest, watch Manish’s interview about the making of Holi Holy with ASVOFF founder, Diane Pernet, here.


Story By: Manjot Bains