Long before the Rachel Cut was made famous by Jennifer Aniston in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, there was the Sadhana Cut.
In 1960, the frothy Love In Simla gave us an unforgettable romance with a little pixie in the lead. She was Sadhana and in a key scene, turned from a Cinderella to a princess when her grandmother snipped off some of her locks and created a life-altering fringe. And the fringe and Sadhana were never apart from that day onwards.
Can your hair change your destiny? Cinema would have you believe so. And life too. Amitabh Bachchan was just another struggler with neatly combed hair till he went and got himself long sideburns and a wavy mop and the rest is, a story that has been retold again and again.Dilip Kumar’s hair was once even the inspiration for a Sahir Ludhiyanvi song, Udein jab jab zulfein teri. No male actor before or since Naya Daur has been a muse for a poet just because he had great hair. In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar mentioned how young men in the 50s would go to salons to get a lock that would kiss their forehead and were then disappointed to know that their hero’s hair was naturally unruly.
Most heroines in the 50s also wore their hair naturally with camera filters and trick lighting making them look ethereal.
There were bouffants in the 60s that every heroine wanted to sport and it is said that even in a realistic film like Anupama (1966), Sharmila Tagore refused to get rid of the pile of hair on her head.
Jaya Bhaduri, always the favourite of home-spun cinema, was famous for her long plait that she wore in film after film.
In the 80s, Dimple Kapadia’s mane was much celebrated in ads for soaps like Crowning Glory and in the R D Burman and Javed Akhtar ditty in Ramesh Sippy’s Sagar. Chehra hai ya chaand khila…zulf ghaneri shaam hai kya, still evokes memories of Kapadia’s hair flowing behind her in elemental, auburn waves in slow motion.
Rekha post her dramatic transformation in the 80s, never messed with her glorious hair, inspiring the poet in Silsila to say, “Yeh raat hai ya tumhari zulfein khuli hui hain.” Today, you can’t even guess the exact colour of a cinematic idol’s hair but there was a time when heroines like Padmini Kolhapure, Neelam Kothari, Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi showed off their long, glossy, dark hair in film after film without subjecting it to drastic cuts and tints.
It was after Dil Chahta Hai (2001), that hair became a tool of characterisation more than just a complimentary feature. Styling hair in keeping with a character’s personality is also now part of the Bollywood look book.
Actors more than actresses seem to experiment with their hair now. Starting with Ranveer Singh who sports a different cut in almost every film. The daily soap Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha (Now being replayed on Rishtey) lavished great cinematic passion on the curls of the male lead and the beautiful hair of the female lead. We would get close ups of his hair gently being ruffled by the wind.
And her stern bun would tumble down into a long river of love and longing in key scenes. Making you realise how the cemera never misses anything. And that hair too can acquire a life and a cult following of its own.