WCW: Indira Varma


You probably know British actress Indira Varma from her roles as Ellaria Sand on Game of Thrones and Niobe on Rome. Her background (Indian, Swiss, and Italian) has allowed her to play a range of roles, and she always stands out to me in any production she’s in. And, this woman does not age! Let’s take a look at her frock flicks work!

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)

A story set in 16th century India, as a princess (Varma) vies with her servant for love. I watched this, but so many years ago that I remember nothing!

1996 Kama Sutra- A Tale of Love

Gorgeous fabrics, but that’s par for the course for a movie set in India!

1996 Kama Sutra- A Tale of Love

Ditto jewelry

1996 Kama Sutra- A Tale of Love

I have zero idea how historically accurate any of this is, but it’s pretty!

1996 Kama Sutra- A Tale of Love

That’s Naveen Andrews (The English Patient, Lost) as Varma’s abusive husband.

Jinnah (1998)

A biopic about the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Varma plays his wife in flashback scenes.

1998 Jinnah

Crappy screencap!

A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets (2005)

As Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady” in this film about the writing of his sonnets.

2005 A Waste of Shame- The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets

I still want Trystan or Sarah to watch this!

Rome (2005-07)

As the gorgeous wife of Roman officer Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd). Things get complicated when she thinks Vorenus is dead.

Keeping it casual.

2005-7 Rome

This show has hair game ON POINT.

2005-7 Rome

See what I mean?

2005-7 Rome

With “husband” McKidd.

Comanche Moon (2008)

A TV miniseries prequel to Lonesome Dove. Varma plays “Therese Wanz.”

2008 Comanche Moon

Is Varma one of the tiny women pictured on the DVD cover? I have no idea!

World Without End (2012)

A medieval miniseries (based on a Ken Follett book) — the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth — about a medieval English town during the start of the Hundred Years’ War and the outbreak of the Black Death.

2012 World Without End

The costumes in this look so much more “ethnic” than “medieval” to me.

Also, hairpin (and veil) shortage!

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Varma plays the high priestess in this Egyptian-set story of the biblical story of Moses.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

This looks very modern to me, but what do I know?

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

Okay so the hair shape (and gold leaf) is super cool.

Shakespeare’s Globe: Titus Andronicus (2015)

As Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Okay, so this doesn’t actually look period, but I’m filling things out.

2015 Shakespeare's Globe- Titus Andronicus

What’s with the plaid?

Carnival Row (2019)

As Piety Breakspear, “Absalom’s manipulative wife who seeks to enshrine her family’s legacy,” in this Victorian-ish noir fantasy TV series.

2019 Carnival Row

Okay you CANNOT GO WRONG with that shade of yellow/green for this era.

Some kind of sheer black embroidered overlayer?

2019 Carnival Row

I love how complicated her hairstyle is!

Which is your favorite of Indira Varma’s frock flick roles?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

19 Responses

  1. throckmortonk

    Point of order: In Kama Sutra, Varma plays the princess’s companion/servant who becomes a courtesan and ends up in a love triangle with the king and a hunky sculptor

  2. Kaye Dacus

    The World without End: Apparently there was a hairpin shortage because they were all melted down to make metal grommets! Lol

  3. Michael McQuown

    Carnival Row. I haven’t seen most of the others/ I first saw her in “Leverage,” a series about a group of con artists who used their skills to help people who had been cheated. This is a theme that has been repeated in TV series going back to “The Rogues” with David Niven and Charles Boyer in the 50s.

    • jayoungr

      She was in Leverage? I’ve gotta look this up! And I vote for Carnival Row as well, since Bride and Prejudice isn’t technically a frock flick.

  4. Popka Superstar

    Throckmortonk is right, that was the plot. I honestly loved the Kama Sutra movie, but for the eye candy more than anything. It was sometimes good with the costumes and often fantastical and meant to be sexy. If you want to see any of the main actors look beautiful and/or naked and covered in costume jewellery, go for it.

    • Kathleen J Norvell

      I know. Beautiful people, beautiful costumes. Honestly, I would have drunk wine out of Naveen Andrews’ shoe (seriously, does anybody remember the other actors in The English Patient?).

      Varma also played John Luther’s (Idris Elba) in “Luther.” Sigh. Not a Frock Flick, I know.

  5. Roxana

    Is that a pearl bikini? Is that even a thing in India??
    There were no cotton prints in medieval england!!
    High priestess of what? I’m not even sure Ancient Egypt had high priestess! And those costumes are unspeakable!!!

    • Katie

      It’s meant to be a choli top composed entirely of pearls. Which probably isn’t a thing that actually existed, but it’s meant to be an example of how the king is descending into decadence and madness, so it works and doesn’t seem overly jarring in context.

  6. Lily Lotus Rose

    Ok, Kendra, you and I are opposites here…I saw Kama Sutra once years ago and it seared itself into my memory. Indira Varma is so beautiful she irritates me. She’s one of a handful of women who when I see them, I’m like “Why do I even bother?” Back to the filmography. Rome is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, so I have to go with that. I’ve seen her in several pieces, and I have to say that she has great taste in the projects she chooses to work on.

  7. Roxana

    Re.: Rome. I don’t think long skintight sleeves were a thing and in that last image she’s wearing a Greek peplos not a stola. Also I believe togas were always white or rather off white.