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The moochh of the matter

We’ve seen scores of famous figures from Bollywood wearing moustaches both in reel life and real and their moustaches have been blockbuster hits almost every time! In a world where clean shaven is the equivalent of good looking, some men still stand stolidly by that old symbol of machismo, the moustache.

bollywood Updated: May 29, 2012 16:24 IST
Kavita Devgan

You could be forgiven for thinking that moustaches were endangered. Till very recently, the only place you could spot them was in funny advertising campaigns. Or on old freedom fighters.

A far cry from the ’50s and early ’60s when everyone wore them – with pride. Apparently it was actor Dilip Kumar who killed the moustache and ushered in the chikna look. A look that has ruled all these decades with very few exceptions such as Shatrughan Sinha with his Indradhanush moustache and later Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor.

But suddenly over the last few years we’ve seen scores of famous figures from Bollywood wearing moustaches both in reel life and real. And whether their movies have worked or not, their moustaches have been blockbuster hits almost every time! Salman Khan wore one in Dabangg, Hrithik Roshan in Guzaarish, Ajay Devgn in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai and Aamir... long before anyone else in Mangal Pandey. And, as always, their fans are intrigued. Intrigued enough to give the moustache something of a renaissance.

‘Hair for success’
“I know what it takes to keep one. It takes commitment,” says 38-year-old theatre and film actor Manu Rishi Chadha who shot into to the limelight as the Bengali of Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye. “But I don’t mind that at all as my moustache has made me famous. Suddenly everyone thinks I look strong and macho and I am getting offers for fabulous realistic roles.” Before 2008, Manu was clean shaven. But during the looks trials for Oye Lucky..., the director Dibakar Banerjee decided that Manu had to look very different from Abhay Deol.

“You have to look ugly in front of Abhay, Dibakar told me,” says Manu. And so he grew a thick moustache. When the movie released, Manu found his look was a hit, and was immediately offered three movies.

In Phas Gaye Re Obama and Ani, Manu’s moustache continued to work, and coming up this year are the films Life Ki Lag Gayi, in which he is the only moustachioed character (both his co-stars KK Menon and Ranveer Shourie are clean shaven), and Daana Pani with Dimple Kapadia, where once again the moustache is an integral part of the styling of Manu’s character as ACP Chautala, a Mumbai cop.

“I did lose out on three plum advertising contracts in the interim as they wanted a clean, corporate look (advertising still wants beautiful people and moustaches don’t usually work!),” says Manu. “But that’s okay as my moustache has taken me on a high lately and I am definitely not complaining.”

Hair forever?: I think it is definitely in and here for stay. You see a lot of young guys experimenting with different moustache looks these days. In fact, last week in Mumbai I saw this young guy with a really thin moustache of the 1950s, the kind my dad used to keep; and I think he was looking damn cool.

My celeb pick: Definitely Ajay Devgn. His Once Upon a Time in Mumbai look was fabulous and I like his moustached in his new movie Singham even more.

“Dad’s the way”
“I like it, so I keep it, says 19-year-old Ayush Gupta, who is about to join Delhi University for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. “My mother did try to stop me. She said I should be clean shaven to prepare for the corporate world, but I had dad’s support so I went ahead and grew a moustache.

Ayush’s moustache began as an experiment. “I saw a few people sporting fantastic moustaches, so I grew one, thinking I’ll shave it off soon enough,” he says. “But I liked my look, so I have now decided to keep it. Even though most of the girls I know don’t like the way I look now. They say ‘bade lagte ho’. But that doesn’t bother me.”

Ayush says his moustache gives him confidence, and a feeling of being a grownup. “My dad is clean shaven now but I have seen pictures of him in his college days when he wore a trendy mooch,” laughs Ayush. “I love those pictures!”

Hair forever?: I am not too sure if the moustache is here to stay but I definitely see lot more of my friends experimenting with it, even if it’s only for short periods of time,” says Ayush.

My celeb pick: “I saw actor Arjun Rampal the other day at a pub in Delhi and he wore a moustache and a goatee,” says Ayush thoughtfully. “Boss, he looked killing! I would love to see him wear this kind of a look in a movie.” Ayush’s other moustached hero is Salman Khan in Dabangg. “He looked amazing with that old style moustache,” says Ayush. “But Shah Rukh Khan with moustaches, I think I’ll pass. He’s better off clean shaven any time.”

“I want the real thing”
“I started growing my moustache only last week, but I am getting comfortable with it,” says 17-year-old student of gaming Rohan Bakshi. “I am very clear that I don’t want just stubble like some of my friends. That looks unkempt. Neither here, nor there. I want a full fledged one.”

Rohan’s dream moustache is the long handled one, something like what Ajay Devgn had in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. “It doesn’t go up to the lips, it goes down instead, and I think it looks great,” says Rohan.

Hair forever?: “A lot of my friends experiment with goatees and moustaches now, a lot more than my seniors did,” muses Rohan. “But unfortunately there aren’t too many takers for big moustaches, like the ones that security guards tend to keep!”

My celeb pick: “Definitely Ajay Devgn. He looks incredible with a moustache.”

“It is my identity”
“In college, I started with a goatee,” says 29-year-old Gaurav Wadhwa, marketing manager with Red Bull. “Then when I started working with MTV, I didn’t shave much and by default grew a moustache. I liked it so I’ve kept it since. I realised that I look better with it. Also, a moustache really helps when you put on a little weight on your face!”

Right now, Gaurav has the kind of moustache actor Hrithik Roshan grew for the film Guzaarish. A month ago, he attempted to grow a long Rajputana kind of moustache. “I got a mixed reaction to that,” he chuckles. “Some people liked it and some found it irritating. But I will go back to it again later.”

Gaurav likes to experiment with different styles. “I will definitely not sport the boring type of moustache that my dad’s generation wore. They sported the same style like it was a uniform,” he says. “There is this picture we have of my dad and his friends in their younger days, and all of them have the same style of moustache in that picture. How boring is that!”

But there is a price to be paid for being cool. “You really need to take care of your moustache,” says Gaurav. “I have even invested in specialised trimmers and razors.”

Hair forever?: Because he works for the beverage company, Red Bull, Gaurav meets youngsters all the time. “Most of them seem open to experimenting and you do see some fabulously maintained and styled moustaches on some very young faces these days,” says Gaurav. “But I don’t care about others. I am keeping moustache.”

My celeb pick: “Actor Vivek Oberoi without a doubt. I saw him with a big Rajputana style moustache at a men’s fashion week last year and he looked great. He has the personality to carry it off. And I don’t like actor Saif Ali Khan’s look when he wears a moustache.”

“Makes me look commanding”
“My dad’s a general in the army and he’s always had a moustache. So when I was posted to Udaipur in Rajasthan, I decided to follow suit,” says 25-year-old Abhinav Singh Rawat, a partner and director with a Gurgaon-based real estate brokerage firm, and lieutenant with the Territorial Army.

Abhinav was always clean shaven, but Rajasthan changed his look. “I realised that to gel with the locals, I must grow a proper Rajasthani moustache,” he says. “And it really helped. People there appreciate the fact that I was not from the city but was trying to blend in.” In Rajasthan, Abhinav decided to do as the Rajasthanis do, so he grew a ‘thakur’ type of moustache.

“It took me a month to grow it properly and this included visits to the barber every weekend as he would have to pick up the corner of the moustache and shave underneath,” says Abhinav. But despite all that trouble, Abhinav hasn’t kept his moustache. “Now I am back in Delhi and I am clean shaven again,” he says. “But I am sure I will grow a moustache again if I am posted to a similar area.”

Hair forever?: “I don’t know about others, but in the army, the moustache’s future is rather bright,” says Abhinav. “A lot of my colleagues wear moustaches on a permanent basis.” That’s because of the way it makes you look, he adds. “When, at the age of 23-24, you need to command a battalion of 100-odd people, many of whom are much older than you, having a moustache definitely puts you in a commanding position.”

My celeb pick: “I think actor Shahid Kapoor looks cool with the thin moustache he is wearing for his forthcoming movie Mausam, in which he is playing an air force officer. And I didn’t like Salman’s Dabangg moustache at all.

How to grow one
Your first step is to decide to grow one. This is no minor matter. Then know that it could take you about 2-3 weeks (including an uncomfortable itchy period) before you have your moustache.

Stop shaving the area between your nose and upper lip. Let your stubble grow out a bit so you can see what will work for you, and for this period, shave around the area.

Meanwhile apply some moisturiser and lotion to the area and make sure it gets some sunlight as well. If you are using facial products, try not to scrub the part of the moustache too hard.

Resist the urge to shape it as it grows. As your moustache hair gets longer, comb it from the centre to the sides. This is to train the hair to go in the right direction. Use a narrow-toothed comb.

As the moustache becomes thicker, take a sharp pair of scissors, tilt the blade at an angle and trim off the corners. Ideally, the moustache should not reach the lip line.

When it has grown sufficiently, finally decide what look you want. Usually, smaller faces need small moustaches and larger faces need more prominent ones.

If you think your moustache is too bushy, reduce its volume by trimming on the top. Also apply gel or oil or a moustache wax to get your moustache into the shape you want it.

Moustaches for good
‘Moustaches Makes a Difference’ is a non-profit charity movement created in 2003 by the Australian organisation called the Movember Foundation. Every November, men all over the world grow moustaches to raise funds in support of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. Visit their site, mosmakeadifference. com to see some really cool taches.

Other moustache charities include:

www.mustachemarch.com
www.mustachesforkids.org
www.fundastache.org/moustaches

How to maintain it
An unkempt moustache looks awful, so groom it properly. “You need to take care of your moustache the way you do your hair,” says actor Manu Rishi Chadha. “I may forget to shampoo my hair but not my moustache.”

Wash your moustache with a mild shampoo daily to remove dirt and keep natural oils intact. And use a conditioner to soften it.

Check it every day to see if it needs trimming. Trim it only when it’s dry, or you may trim too much.

Trim your moustache using your upper lip as a template. The hair should not grow over it. Trim from the centre to each edge.

Don’t scratch if your moustache becomes itchy or you’ll damage your skin. Apply a hydrocortisone cream on the area instead.

To hide a stray white hair, use black mascara. Use moustache wax in your moustache and try a new or different shape.