The turban, the beard and the Punjabi accent are the new cool code in Bollywood, thanks to People magazine’s sexiest man alive, Ranbir Kapoor, playing a Sikh in his upcoming release, Rocket Singh - Salesman of The Year.
“Ranbir Kapoor plays a very Mumbaiyya sardar, who speaks English, Hindi at work and Punjabi at home,” says Shimit Amin, the film’s director.
Sikhs have always been appearing in Bollywood films, but rarely as central characters. “Over the past few years, Sikhs have gone from being comic figures to cool in Hindi films,” says critic Anupama Chopra.
This year, the bearded Saif Ali Khan romanced a Brazilian in Love Aaj Kal, while last year, a turbaned Akshay Kumar danced with Katrina Kaif in Singh Is Kinng. “Sardarjis will be proud of my honourable representation,” Saif had said. “It’s heartening to finally see Sikhs having romantic sensibilities,” says Randeep Grover, a Sikh hotelier in Gurgaon. “Earlier we were relegated to being the hero’s funny sidekicks.”
Some Sikhs are optimistic about cracking Bollywood. “Ranbir is looking so handsome in a beard and turban,” says Jasangad Singh of SGTB Khalsa College. “It’s now possible for us Sikhs to become heroes without cutting off our hair or shaving off our beards.”
Girls are also appreciating the Sikh look, starting with actress Shazahn Padamsee, who is debuting opposite Ranbir in Rocket Singh. “I prefer the sardar Ranbir than the clean-shaven one,” says Padamsee. “Once I saw him clean-shaven at a party and I was like, ‘Hey dude, I don’t know you’.” The Sikh girls are also happy. “Though I’m a thorough-bred sardarni, I’ve always preferred clean-shaven men,” says RJ Rochie Rana. “But Ranbir’s sardar look has changed my views.”