Bala to Ujda Chaman, why is bald suddenly gold for Bollywood?
Bald is beautiful. Just one of those axioms the fashion industry likes to repeat once in a while. They like to couple the pitch with a benefit of sorts where some truly beautiful models with shining pates walk the ramp; a champagne and cheese shindig follows.
But how does the society, or more importantly, those with paucity of hair up there see it? If the people lining up to get treated from a certain Dr Batra are anything to go by, they see it as a problem with a capital P. And then there is cinema – that barometer of what people are interested in, but mostly, what will they pay good money to watch. The last week and this, we are supposed to sit in a dark theatre and watch two men in their 20s as they deal with lack of sympathy the world has for bald men. Rolled in with that are fates of women too – one who is plus-sized and another who society will tag as dark complexioned.
Sunny Singh in Ujda Chaman had the first go. Ujda Chaman – a disparaging, colloquial comment on receding hairline – shows a man in late 20s being rejected by a slew of women, and getting ridiculed in the process. He is called Chaman and after being rejected by tall, fair and willowy women, he finds love with Manvi Gagroo’s Apsara. She is lovely but overweight and Chaman (yes, that’s what he is called) spends the rest of the film wondering if she is good enough for him. The film ends with a lecture on body neutrality, after giving us the exactly opposite message for almost two hours.
Now, in a hair-raising coincidence, a similar storyline comes to us with Ayushmann Khuranna – that champion of everyday middle-class problems – in the lead the very next week. The film is called Bala, also the name of a popular song and character played by Akshay Kumar in the Diwali release Housefull 4. Was he bald? Yes, you can bet your last bottle of shampoo that promises you long, luxurious hair on it.
Returning to Ayushmann’s Bala, this bald man finds love in Bhumi Pednekar – suitably brown-faced because you hire a fair woman to play a darker-complexioned one and a man with a full head of hair to play a bald man. The insidious message being clear – they aren’t ugly, they did it for a role!
What could be leading to this sudden focus on men with hair deficiency? Going by Ayushmann’s recent interview, he was swamped by similar idea by ‘six different people’. “I got the same idea from six different people. I’ll just go with the person who is more credible. There was a film called ‘Hair is Falling’ in 2011 and there were a lot of films which were made on (the issue of) receding hairline but just that they weren’t successful,” he said.
The aim, quoting Ayushmann again, is to tell people that it is all about inner beauty. “It isn’t about just receding hair or baldness. It’s about loving and discovering yourself more than anything else,” the actor said. Bala appears to have done this with some success, thanks largely to an empathetic script and good performances.
Will it change the way we as a society look at beauty – that beyond long flowy locks, dewy complexions and barely-there waists or six-pack abs, it is actually skin deep? The jury is still out but it will take more than preachy monologues in couple of films to change us.
Interact with the writer @JSB17
Follow @htshowbiz for more