It all began in 2008 when Akshay Kumar’s Singh is Kinng was released. The film faced flak from Sikhs, who weren’t happy with the way the actor wore his turban in the movie. Fast-forward a few years to 2011, when Patiala House was released. The movie was a sports drama, in which Kumar played a ‘cut-surd’, slang for a Sardar who has cut his hair (against the tenets of the religion), and Rishi Kapoor played his turbaned Sikh father. Director Nikhil Advani didn’t want a backlash, and so he hired a young turban-tying expert for Rishi.
That turban-tying expert was Jaspreet Singh Jassi from Mumbai, now 28 years old. Since Patiala House, he has gone to become Bollywood’s first ever turban designer/stylist. Here’s his first-hand account:
“When I was young, every time I would watch a Bollywood actor play a Sikh character, I would think, ‘Kash mujhe ye opportunity mile, so that I can help them tie a good turban.’ When I was in college, people started noticing the way I wore my turban. A few of the students, who also wore the turban, started coming to me to style their turban. After a while, I started my own free turban tutorial class in a small room in a gurudwara (GTB Nagar, Mumbai). You could say that I started as a part-time [turban designer] in college and with time, it became a full-time profession.”
“I got my first break in 2008 for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. I got to know through a friend of mine that Yash Raj-ji was looking for someone to tie the turban for a character in the movie. I went for it and I got the job.”
Rise of the turban designer
“I think it’s because there is a lack of knowledge among Bollywood actors, film directors and designers regarding [the Sikh] turban in general. Due to the popularity of Punjabi culture, Sikh characters are always in demand. And wearing a turban the right way is integral to portraying [Sikh] characters in a correct manner. If you’re going to show someone wearing a turban in a movie, it has to be done in a respectful manner. And this is where I come in… the first ever turban designer/stylist.”
List of movies so far
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Patiala House, Rocket Singh, 31st October, Ghazi Attack, Life Sahi Hai (TV show), among others.
The Ring by Imtiaz Ali; and Fukre Returns.
“Ranbir Kapoor and Boman Irani, because they both put their soul into their work and are down-to-earth.”
“Honestly, I want to be an actor. I also want to venture into the modelling industry.”
How to wear the perfect turban on Baisakhi
“I would recommend the rough-style turban (wattan wali pagg). It’s the most recent style and is popular among both regular turban wearers and non-turban wearers. It can be tied with 6-7 pleats, unlike other turbans, where 5-6 pleats can be seen. You don’t need to make your turban perfectly symmetrical; the right side of the pagg should be tied neatly with 4-5 pleats. This mismatch of pleats looks unique.”