Chak De! India actress Sagarika Ghatge’s hand-painted sarees takes you to an era of chiffon and pearls



Sagarika Ghatge was the intrepid Preeti Sabharwal in the superhit movie Chak De! India, starring Shah Rukh Khan. Based on the women’s national hockey team, Sagarika – herself a national-level field hockey player – fit the role to a tee.

Sagarika has a royal lineage. Her grandmother, Sita Raje Ghatge, is the daughter of Tukojirao Holkar III of Indore, and her father is from the erstwhile royal family of Kagal.

And so, descending from the regals of Kolhapur, with a culture and heritage spanning 600 years, Sagarika’s recent launch of a sari collection titled ‘Akutee’, meaning ‘princess’ in Marathi, is a much-expected one. Thanks to motivation from cricketer-husband Zaheer Khan, Sagarika along with her mother Urmila, had acquired the bygone treasures of her family – handwoven fabric, and especially chiffons that most royalty in India bought from Europe. She amalgamated these collectibles for a contemporary audience.

“My first exposure to fashion was from the women of the family, based on how they dressed, and how they selected their garments to suit every occasion. Needless to say their minimalistic styling stood out – sample a simple chiffon saree with a string of pearls. These women and their approach to fashion are what inspires my day-to-day styling,” says Sagarika.

The brand Akutee, pays homage to all the women in the family, past and present, and other ancestral members of the Ghatge dynasty. Such knowledge of vintage clothes, textiles, and styling, which have been passed down from the older generations, “is multi-generational priceless knowledge”, she says.


Some years ago, her love for sarees was pictured in a video of her in a nine-yard saree, playing football at the inauguration of a football league, displaying the possibilities of the versatile saree as being non-constricting. “I wanted the younger generations to know what they were missing in the world of fast fashion,” she says. “Royal Maratha women who rode horses, wore the nine-yards with grace and elegance.”

Watching her mother paint since she was a child, and then beginning to paint by herself from the time she was 15, Akutee is a gift from a daughter to her mother. “I wanted my mother’s work to now be shown to the world,” says Sagarika. The sarees are hand-painted and made of handwoven chanderi, tissue, and Banarasis.

Even the borders of the saris are handmade. Akutee has revived badla embroidery work in one of her favorite pieces called ‘Lalite’. “The best in the collection, however, is the one made by my mother. Called Nandita and Navodita, these have our signature flowers. The saris were named after my sister-in-law (Navodita) and aunt (Nandita) as they have played a very
important part in shaping Akutee,” says Sagarika.

Akutee, a brainchild of Zaheer Khan, is the result of him being keen on wanting people to see the artwork, and understand its importance. Launching a brand would sure serve the purpose. Akutee is a slow fashion brand or slow luxury, it is bespoke, so Sagarika does not follow a “push strategy”. In terms of collaborations, she will soon launch the Akutee Home line, featuring crockery and other products. Everything will be artistically painted.

“We have our guidelines for partnership and are looking for brands in synergy with our brand values. It could take some time. As for the price of the products, it depends on the extent of artwork done. Our customers value everything handmade,” says Sagarika.

Discerning buyers, who have already purchased from Akutee, repeat their orders for the worth of the products. You can choose to have a look at the items on their global store ( and make a purchase, like sari-lovers do from different parts of the world.



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