Aalim Hakim has been cutting hair since he was a teenager. “I went to college with Vivek Oberoi and choreographers Bosco-Caesar. I’d cut and style their hair for fashion shows during college festivals. I loved it, so I made a career out of it,” recalls the hairstylist, who is now responsible for the haircuts sported by a host of A-list actors and top cricketers.
His latest offering is a TV show, Style Inc. With Aalim Hakim, which offers behind-the scenes footage from his photo shoots and dressing room moments with the who’s who of Bollywood — Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan and Ajay Devgn, to name a few. We get him to spill a few secrets.
What are the easiest and most difficult haircuts you’ve given?
Salman Khan’s is the easiest hair to cut. He loves to experiment, but likes to keep it short from the back. I’ve made mistakes with his haircut sometimes, but we’re friends, so he comes back to me. And because he’s Salman, he pulls off the bad cut too, and people perceive it as a new fashion statement.
But convincing Saif to get a buzz cut for Omkara (2006) was difficult because he loves his hair. I had to call photographer Prasad Naik to shoot my hair from all angles, because I had a buzz cut at that time, chop my face to replace it with Saif’s and show him how it would look. Finally, he agreed just the day before the shoot and we buzzed it at midnight. He loved it, and after that, a lot of actors went in for the same cut.
Do people still come in with pictures of celebrities and request the same haircut?
I get some requests for hair like Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor, but I tell people that it’s important to have their own identity. But a lot has changed over the years, because a lot of youngsters now come and say that they don’t want the same haircut as their friends. Besides, after the ’90s, there have been no long-staying Bollywood-inspired trends. Haircuts aren’t as iconic as they were back then, and people don’t want to ape stars anymore.
Do you get creative freedom when styling for films or is there a clear directive?
I get a brief, but directors let me do what I want, so I’m lucky. It’s fun building a character. I’ve experimented a lot over the years — I gave Emraan Hashmi a mullet in Awarapan (2007) when no one wore their hair that way. Ranbir Kapoor’s haircuts for Rockstar (2011) were very unconventional too. I’ve been toying with an Elvis-style quiff for Varun Dhawan in his next film. Having said that, I prefer styling for photo shoots because they’re challenging and better outlets for my creativity. Within a span of five hours, I can do multiple looks with the same length of hair.
The hairstylist lists his most iconic cuts:
Amitabh Bachchan’s spiky hair in Ek Ajnabee (2005)
Ranbir Kapoor’s long locks in Rockstar (2011)
Saif Ali Khan’s buzz cut in Omkara (2006)
Emraan Hashmi’s mullet in Awaarapan (2007)
Sanjay Dutt’s spiky hair in Musafir (2004)