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Aalim Hakim: In a league of his own

His dexterity with the comb makes him a hit in Bollywood. Catch hair-stylist Aalim Hakim in a chat with Nilufer Qureshi.
Hindustan Times | By Nilufer Qureshi, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 24, 2007 01:42 PM IST

He was to the salon born. His father, Hakim, created the hair styles of Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. His son, Aalim, has kept his virasat going, with a litany of clientele which includes the new hottie Ranbir Kapoor.

Aalim Hakim works out of an ever-busy salon at Bandra when he isn't cropping and crewing the showbiz heroes. Ergo, the question:

What are the ups and downs of styling actors?
I enjoy working with them. But I don't like to hang around the sets besides the monotony, it's a waste of time. I'd rather be in my salon doing different styles for different people.

I love doing commercials actually that requires three or four different styles in a day I like to be my on my feet, thinking, creating. Initially I would get very excited when producers took me abroad for shoots. But after the first two days, those schedules also get boring.

Then what keeps you going as a celebrity stylist?
Stars are your brand ambassadors. Their look get responses from across the world. They set trends. Also celebrities tend to do more justice to your styles because their packaging includes a dress designer, makeup person and photographer.

There is a very thin line between being ‘funky' and ‘monkey'. When they're funky you get instant notice and publicity And when you . are with a celebrity you're treated , like one yourself. On the sets, the unit is extra-attentive to you.

What about latecomings and cancellations?
Yeah, earlier many stars could be erratic. But now it is getting more professional. They stick to their appointments and don't want rush jobs. The importance of hair stylists has been acknowl edged, what with every actor wanting a new look in every film.

Have you learnt any lessons?
Yes, I've learnt that it's absolutely essential to take your money on time. If you give anyone credit, then you have to write it off as a bad debt. Also, I've learnt never to repeat a certain style.

Actors are always in the public eye every six months you have to give them a new style before it gets outdated.

Do stars have ego problems about the others you're working with?
That does happen when you're styling two-three actors for the same film. Each one of them feels that you're giving more importance to the other one.

Now I have a team of stylists..every actor is assigned his own stylist on the sets. That way, there's no stress.

Sanjay Dut and Bobby Deol insist on my presence on the sets. But once their styling is done, someone from my team takes over. It is not physically possible for me to be at different locations at the same time.

Have you ever gone wrong?
Of late no. In the past it happened once with Saif Ali Khan and Salman Khan. Salman wanted me to cut his hair really short for his role as a cop in Garv.

I got carried away and gave him a crew cut. Luckily, he was okay with it.

Sometimes you get so carried away that you end up giving a style which is worse than the one the client walked in with. Mistakes can happen even Ram Gopal Varma gave us Aag.

Can you strike a friendship with any of the stars?
No. I maintain a professional distance. I'm often advised to be in regular touch with my star clients. But I don't believe in that.

If my work is of some quality I, will get work, no matter what.

Any favourite clients?
Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Bobby Deol and Saif Ali Khan. These actors are stylish in real life too.

Who has been the worst paymaster in the film industry?
Sanjay Gupta. I don't care if he sends me a legal notice again. He still owes me money.

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