Predictably enough, Dhoni is tough to reach. Our interview was slotted right after the launch of his merchandise, Cool Maal. But he’s retired to his room, his manager informs us. With so much cricket and the final IPL battle, you can’t blame him. He likes to play hard to get, but in the end, the Team India captain is a man of his word.
Cricket’s the obvious conversation. But he manages to dodge all questions on IPL and its much-talked-about party politics. We decide to dissect his style quotient instead. After all, the top-voted youth icon (by MTV and NDTV, among others) must have something that allows him to sell every product on TV, from cola and cellphones to even suits.
‘I am myself’He is happy to define his style for us: “I am what I am.... I’m myself and that’s my style mantra.” With cricket-crazy youth following his style and hair, it makes sense for him to be launching personalised merchandise.
He promises us that he’s personally looking into the Cool Maal merchandise, so that his fans get the real Dhoni deal. “Although it’s focused on kids for the moment, we are planning to get into a lot more,” he promises.
‘I buy expensive T-shirts’ He loves shopping and admits, “I buy a lot of clothes.” So many, that he can’t recall the single, most expensive item of clothing he owns. “I do buy a lot of expensive T-shirts,” is all he concedes. He’s famously worn a lungi in an ad. Ask him one item of clothing he’d never wear and he replies, “I haven’t really thought about it. Fashion, according to me, is being comfortable.”
‘Yuvraj is stylish’You wonder if he’s fussy about dressing for commercials. He says, “Usually, the stylist and the brand decide on my look and I go with their instincts. I don’t mind as long as the clothes are comfortable.” So, who according to him is the most stylish Indian cricketer? “Yuvraj Singh,” he responds. “M Vijay is also very stylish.”
‘I love my hair’ before his short crop, Dhoni had a mane that made girls jealous and spawned the long hair craze among boys. His hairstlylist, Sapna Bhavnani, the one behind his makeover, concedes that Dhoni understands his hair. “I love my hair and do take extra care of it,” Dhoni says, insisting that he doesn’t follow any hairstyle icon.
Bhavnani also thinks that style-wise, he is “quite a conventional guy”. But she can’t wait to have her one wish granted — a chance to give him a blue Mohawk! Knowing Dhoni, it might take some chasing and coaxing, but he may eventually give in.
Stylist Sapna Bhavnani on the many makeovers she’s done for Dhoni
I’ve been working on Mahi’s (Dhoni) hair for the last four and a half years. It was a beautiful moment when we met... he stared at my ink (tattoos) and I stared at his orange hair for about five minutes! Since then, it’s been magic.
I can’t comment on his present look since I’ve done it myself. But Mahi has come a long way from his cute boy, long hair days. He looks more like a man now... a captain. He commands whistles and respect at the same time.
Our motto is simple. I don’t tell him how to play cricket and he doesn’t tell me how to cut hair. John (Abraham) and Mahi are very good friends and both are my clients. John cut his hair first and I remember Mahi poking fun at him at my salon.
Two weeks later, Mahi went short and the rest is history. But Mahi doesn’t regret chopping off the long hair. In fact, I try to get him to grow it out a bit to change his look, but he doesn’t let me.
He knows his hair well. I cut his hair every time he’s in town after a match or on location in the make-up van. And he’s cut my hair twice. We just realised that when he’s not playing, he spends more time with me than anyone else, other than his manager, of course!
He is quite a conventional guy and a highly trendy hairstyle would look forced. But I’m determined to give him a blue Mohawk soon. May God grant me my wish!
Stylist Cookie Dipika Singh on Dhoni
I styled Dhoni once for a Reebok shoot. We shot him bare chested with tattoos and in black leather pants! I remember him as an awesome team player. He didn’t interfere and completely trusted my choice of clothing.
I remember him giving chocolates to everyone on the last day of the shoot. It’s easy for him to carry off different looks, as he is physically fit. Long hair did make him stand out in a crowd.
Now, as a captain, it’s more about blending in with the team. His short hair enhances his features. He doesn’t mind experimenting, which is good for a stylist. He does like to shop for himself. Although he chooses casual clothes and loves active sportswear, I’d love to see him flaunt a kurta.