Malaysia: Traditional dresses worn by Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai in the films ‘Raavan’ and ‘Robot’, which have been runaway hits here this year, are the flavour of the season as Malaysian Indians shop for Deepavali.
The churidar and long-sleeved kameez Aishwarya wore as a dance teacher who gets kidnapped in the modern-day version of the ‘Ramayana’ are a hit among women shoppers.
Both the Tamil (Raavanan) and Hindi versions (Raavan) released here, while the Aishwarya-starrer ‘Robot’ with megastar Rajnikant was a huge hit.
The traditional dresses - called masakali - have been in the market since early this year. But sales have peaked as Deepavali approaches.
The salwar-kameez also come with transparent long sleeves and chudidar pants, a news daily reported Monday.
Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamils who throng to Chennai-made films. But craze for Bollywood films transcends racial lines. The Bachchans - Amitabh, Jaya, Abhishek and Aishwarya - and the Khans - Shah Rukh, Aamir, Salman and Saif Ali - are immensely popular here.
Thiyananthan Bathumalai, managing director of Harekrishna Silk, said most of the masakali dresses in the market were inspired by movie stars.
"For example, we now have `Robot masakali`, which was inspired from the movie `Endhiran` (Robot) and `Raavan masakali`, which was inspired by `Raavan`," he said.
Thiyananthan said many customers ask for masakali suits on entering his shop.
"People still ask for `Anarkali suits` or `Patiala suits` which were the craze some time ago. But this year, it looks like Aishwarya Rai is leading," he said.
In Kuala Lumpur, trader M. Maniam said many people ask for Punjabi suits or saris worn in particular movies.
"Every year, we have customers asking for a particular sari or suit that was worn by an actress in a movie. This year, everyone is asking for masakali suits which were worn by Aishwarya Rai."
The trader, who operates at the KL Sentral car park, said most of his dresses came from India.
Meanwhile, a resolution taken by Indian shopkeepers in Malaysia to keep the prices reasonable has won praises from the government.
The government has imposed a price ceiling on essential commodities. But some Indian shops are selling well below the ceiling price.
One shop in George Town was found selling imported Australian lentils at a big discount from the stipulated ceiling price.
This caught Deputy Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Tan Lian Hoe by surprise during her visit here.
Tan lauded the trader, saying: "It is a sensible move by traders not to charge customers at the maximum price during festivities.