Designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil are big time movie buffs! Advertisement

Designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil on the movies that inspired them the most

Little did we know the designers are also big-time movie buffs!

By Subhanjana Das  May 11th, 2020

One of the first design houses to put Indian contemporary design on the global map, Shantanu and Nikhil have carved a niche for themselves, and how! With inimitable drapes, luxurious silhouettes, and embroidery that marks their eponymous label’s Indian roots, the duo is one of the first names to come to mind when talking about the contemporary Indian fashion.

We asked the designers to share their favourite movies and why it continues to inspire them:

Nikhil Mehra on the movies he keeps going back to:


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What Dreams May Come– This gripping story about love and soul mates taught me how life can continue beyond death itself.
Maqbool–This story about human emotions and their insecurities made me realise how one should be careful of what they really want from life.
Jane Bhi Do Yaaro– This hilarious comedy  speaks about life in all forms.


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The Green Mile–This incredible story of a human journey that affected me deeply. It made me realise that one should not judge anyone without knowing everything about the situation.


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Escape From Sobibor–This movie taught me a lot about human condition, what happened to people in world war 2 is heart breaking. It made a huge impact on me when I was a kid.

Shantanu Mehra on his favourite movies:


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Crash – This movie is a series of confrontations and collisions between a broad cross section of people who harbour race-based misconceptions about one another. This movie reinforced the belief in me that we as human beings are all connected on many different levels and there is so much one can learn from the power of contrast. The movie also gave me many opportunities to look at and say “I don’t want that” or “I want to make the world a better place by doing this”. This strong emotion in fact gave us the strength to break stereotypes associated with Indian tradition and instead got us to explore humanness in our collections through compelling narratives of fierceness and beauty.


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Into the Wild – I found this America biographical movie, through Chris’s earth shattering hitchhiking journey, to be a perfect montage of chaos, courage, happiness, idealism, genius, getting lost and found and so on. Some of the key lesson I learnt from the film were: 1. Appreciate what we have all got and be grateful, 2. Look out for imperfections in one’s self, 3. Running away from realities is cowardly, 4. Respect the power that nature is. These lessons have pretty much shaped our belief system as brand custodians, one that stands on pillars of resilience, equality and humility. And what could be better than these positives taking over our rather negative mindset to the unprecedented crisis that we are surrounded by today.


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Life is Beautiful – This moving take on how a Jewish father tries to shield his young son with doses of positive humour, while his country is dealing with a hostile war-like environment is not only engaging but thought provoking. It taught me that any challenge or suffering that life presents us with, is only as intense as we perceive it to be. It also very rightfully teaches us to constantly seek opportunities that give us a moment of pleasure even under the most adverse circumstances. I have always used this mantra right from the outset of my graduation days to being a brand owner/fashion entrepreneur now. There is a lot to learn from this movie more so now in terms of coping better with the aftermath of the current Covid-19 pandemic.


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Dead Poet’s Society – This is definitely one of my favourite films that wasn’t only a great source of entertainment but one that had me balling. The way Mr Keating, played by Robin Williams, inspires his students to look at things differently in order to seize the day is simply remarkable. Here are some very pertinent facts of life that have remained deeply etched in me even today after watching this film: 1. One must strive to think outside the box, 2. Only your clear thoughts, opinions and words matter, 3. One must strive to find one’s inner voice, 4. Don’t ever be afraid to fail as failure will help us discover something new. These are golden words and ones that I have applied almost consistently in my life both as a teenager grappling with issues in my adolescent days to me deciding to give up on my cushy job in USA with the desire to nurture a home grown fashion brand in India in the year 2000.

Pay it Forward – This American drama film of how a young 7th grader Trevor comes up with an idea of returning someone’s favour by paying it forward by doing good deeds for three more people is not only inspiring but extremely touching. More than ever before, today’s trying times is in fact prompting all of us to alter our cultural identity and one that resonates with community service and doing good to others.