Dev Anand gave utmost importance to his hairstyle throughout his career. As he gained stature and grew in years, his hair played the role of making him look younger and sending the message that Dev Anand was moving ahead at an accelerating pace in life on and off the screen.
Undeniably, the hair factor has made more people conscious about their image today than was the case earlier. A hair in the wrong place, too many hairs out of line or any such hairy affair can no longer be dismissed casually. And this raises the question, why? Well, too many hair-splitting issues are involved to answer this question without deliberating on at least a few. Hair by itself has gained greater importance than ever in recent years.
Hairstyle is one of the few things Mahatma Gandhi did not elaborate upon. While in South Africa, he chose to cut his own hair. His image as leader of a non-violent freedom struggle displays very few hair on his head. What is remarkable is that whether he had many or later too little hair, he did not push them out of place. The same may be said about another freedom fighter, the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The Nehru cap played a major role in little attention being paid to few strands of his hair.
Interestingly, the neo-age is witness to a hairy revolution among most people of all ages, including politicians and film stars. There is speculation in Bollywood over problems faced by Shah Rukh Khan in growing a beard for his movie Don.
Now, should this be viewed as a hairy issue? Yes. The beardy issue has certainly given a ‘newsy’ angle to Shah Rukh’s hairy problem. It may be noted that film celebrities are fairly adept at attracting media action by a change in hairstyle as well as the kind of beard or moustache they decide to sport. Aamir Khan cannot be missed here for different kinds of moustaches he has sported in several of his movies.
Something is amiss about the fairer gender in Bollywood giving the impression of there being an uncanny similarity in most of their hairstyles. Letting their loose hair fall below their shoulders seems to be most common trait, with the difference standing out only in colour and type of their hair. Ironically, greater difference in hairstyles stands out among male actors. Perhaps, the length of their hair, its parting, the receding hairline together with whether they sport a clean-shaved look, the style of their moustache as well as their beard adds hairy facts to images these actors wish to promote.
Interestingly, think carefully, this stands out in sports too. While most female players and athletes, except a few, have no option but to keep their hair clipped, the men can show off, that too stylishly, whether it is their hairstyle, the beard or the moustache. Not surprisingly, in ads linked with hair — from dandruff shampoos to conditioners — male models are almost as dominant as the females. They may be even ahead, if the razor ads are also considered.
Think again, where hair fashion is concerned, men have more options than women. Just the Charlie Chaplin-moustache is enough to give their faces a comical look, moustache in line with their upper lips for the brisk appearance, curled upwards for either the rural, traditional or even that of a bad character, downwards to add more to whatever their personality trait is, academic, business and so forth. This trend stands out dominantly among Hindus opting to join religion-oriented saffron cult.
Male clerics have the freedom to ‘style’ their long hair on head as well as their long beards and moustaches. Female clerics have only their hair on the head to style, an option of which they are deprived if they have to keep their heads covered.
Politicians, especially male leaders, are certainly as much conscious about the actual ‘hairy’ issue as are other celebrities. This includes Arab leaders, who can afford not to bother about their receding hair lines because of their headdress. Nevertheless, their moustaches and beards mark their distinct personalities fairly prominently. In the subcontinent, of late, senior politicians have become more particular about hair, from its style to colour.
Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s hairstyle attracted attention when the fast bowler ran on the cricket field. It still stands out. The hairstyle is almost just the same as it was earlier, only the colour has changed a little. The colour of the Indian home minister’s hair remains as black today as it was perhaps a few decades ago. In contrast, though Lalu Prasad has greyed a little, he has ensured that his receding hairline remains hidden with the hair stylishly and neatly covering the bald patch. Please note, however rowdy the parliamentary sessions become, the hairstyle of most politicians remains undisturbed, with barely a hair out of line. The only parliamentarian who was noted for her hair not being stylish, but a little on the rough side was former railway minister Mamata Banerjee. Ever since she has moved out of Parliament to take over as West Bengal chief minister, slowly but definitely, there has been a major change in her hairstyle, with hardly a strand now out of place.
Seriously speaking, whoever spread the notion of fashion being predominantly a female-dominated domain was probably a male chauvinist bent on letting the world believe that men cannot be bothered about it as women have to. The hairy perspective defies this notion totally. The fact that men are taking the lead in the domain of hair-fashion can no longer be dismissed as a hair-splitting issue!