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The Brigade Of The Bald…

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By Ali Peter John

For years, they neglected what is now called content in films. They were getting used to the same kind of formula which they felt and believed were the only way to make films that brought in the audience and they were even proved right to a large extent and that is why we had 800 films and more in a year in which there was very little that was different or away from the formula they were following for god knows how many years, and the critics kept screaming about the bad subject films were made on, but who cared for the opinion of the critics? The filmmakers drunk on their own formula and “mixtures” they kept on using till around the last two years when there seemed to be some kind of a revolution with films like Paa, Piku, PK, Queen, Pink, Super 30 and the many biopics that turned out to be successful at the box-office. The success of such reality-based films also inspired some of the best actors to go in for a change in the kind of character they played, which were closer to the realities of life and were more in touch with the life lived by the common man who could identify with the characters in the films they saw.

And if there is one star who has been constantly playing characters which no other stars, big or small would have dared to play, it is Ayushmann Khurrana who has played a sperm donor to a man with a female voice and who will soon be seen as a young man who is growing bald before his time. I am sure after seeing all his previous performances in the last five years, he will come up with one more award winning performance (the last time he won the National Award for his performance in Andhadun).

It may seem strange, but it is also true that two of the most in-demand stars of today are playing bald characters in the films of two different genres.

Ayushmann is the bald character in what is expected to be a close look at the problems faced by a young and handsome man who has the fear of losing all his hair and going bald in a film called “Bala” and in a total contrast we will be seeing the new patriotic Indian character, Akshay Kumar playing bald man in “Housefull 4”, so what if it is only for a song as it is said to be, but the real competition for Ayushmann comes from Sunny Singh whose film “Ujda Chaman”, which is already creating bad vibes as not only are the two actors playing almost similar roles, but their films will also in all probability be released around the same time or may be even in the same week. This is the first time that the industry see a clash of bald heroes…

As I think what Ayushmann and Sunny Singh, my mind goes back to several other actors who have been naturally bald or had taken all the trouble to play bald characters.

The first big story that comes to my mind is the time when the veteran filmmaker, B.R Chopra was planning to make “Chanakya Aur Chandragupta” with Dilip Kumar as Chanakya and Dharmendra as Chandragupta. The character of Chanakya demanded that Dilip Kumar go bald, but Dilip Kumar was not too excited about going bald, even though he was a perfectionist when it came to playing his roles. Chopra had to send one of the best Indian makeup men, Sarosh Mody to London to get a special wig made and the wig prepared cost a record one lakh rupees in the seventies. But, unfortunately, the film which could have been worth its weight in gold was scrapped.

Among the earliest actors who were naturally bald and had no qualms about playing bald characters were India’s first natural actor, Motilal, who played a bald man even in his last two films, “Choti Choti Baatein” and “Waqt” directed by Yash Chopra. The other actors who played bald naturally were Kanhaiyalal and David Abraham.

Raaj Kumar was known for his stylish acting, but very few knew that he was naturally bald, but had never played a bald character, but had the most expensive wigs made in different parts of the world. There is an interesting story about his wigs. The actor Feroz Khan once had a quarrel with Raaj Kumar in the lobby of a 5 Star hotel. He was aware of the fact that Raaj Kumar wore a wig at all times, in real life and in his films. Feroz who was known for his rash actions and words pulled off the wig of Raaj Kumar in public and for many it was a shock to see the stylish Raaj Kumar as a bald man.

Amrish Puri had a full growth of hair, but he was a small-time actor in films and a great actor in theatre till he has his natural hair. It was the well-known director, Rakesh Kumar who had made six film with Amitabh Bachchan who gave Amrish the idea of shaving off his hair and his decision to follow his advice turned out to be a life-changer for him, till he became the number one villain of not only Hindi films, but also films in Hollywood. He was a superstar in his own right only as long as he was bald which he once said was very difficult to maintain, but was very paying in the long run.

The success of Amrish Puri has even made a veteran villain like Prem Chopra go completely bald and another younger actor, Tej Sapru has also gone bald and he says his career as a villain has changed completely after making his head shine which he says is quite a difficult “job”.

The one actor who came bald into the industry was Anupam Kher. He was a young man who had gone bald when he was only 23 and became famous as the bald old man in Mahesh Bhatt’s “Saaranash” and has rarely been seen with a wig. He was together with Amrish Puri two actors who made going bald a style statement. Anupam is still playing bald characters, like he is doing in a Tv serial in Hollywood.

The Roshans have baldness in the family. The head of the family, music director Roshan was completely bald. His elder son, Rakesh Roshan used to a wig till he played the hero and the villain, but when he took to production and direction, the first thing he did was throw off his wig and be seen completely bald in real life. His brother, a music director Rajesh Roshan also went bald when he was in his early twenties. Hrithik Roshan is one big subject for discussion in many ways, but the one thing that is asked about him is how he has not inherited the baldness of his family and there are some of his fans who even offer prayers for him to have his rich hair which goes so well with his image as the “Greece God”.

The one man whose shining bald head sent shivers down the spines of millions was M. B Shetty, popularly known as only ‘Shetty”. He was not only a leading fight director, but also played villainish roles, especially with big actors like Dharmendra and specially Amitabh Bachchan. Incidentally, Rohit Shetty is his son.

The poet Anjaan who had to struggle for 22 years to make it as a lyricist had gone bald when he was 21 and lived in Banaras. History repeated itself when his son Sameer also became a successful lyricist and had like his father gone bald when he was 22.

And if you thought there were only men who were bald in any which way, you will be surprised to know that some of the actresses of the silent era went bald or were forced to go bald if they had to play a widow. In Babul, it was one of the last films made by Ravi Chopra, son of B. R Chopra and entire group of women which included the beautiful Sarika had to go bald as was the tradition of widows who spent their whole life at Vrindhavan.

Persis Khambatta, a farmer beauty queen went bald for a James Bond film and the award for the best and most natural bald woman must be certainly handed over to Tanuja, the one-time very lively actress and the mother of Kajol who was asked to wear a wig for her role as a widow in a Marathi film called Pitr Rinn directed by Nitish Bhardwaj who played Krishna in the epic serial Mahabharat” but she was determined to shave off her head to make the role she was playing more realistic…

And if you ask me, I think one actor who has left a lasting impact as a bald man, I think it is Yul Brynner.

And it looks like bald is going to be the in thing as I see more and more men and women going bald as a new hair style. The battle of the baldies is growing very exciting at this stage. Let’s watch.

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Tanuja, Rakesh Roshan , Anupam Kher, Amrish Puri , Prem Chopra , Feroz Khan , Ayushmann Khurrana

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