Why desi actors never get it right…!
The day I spotted a Page 3 picture of a minor TV star ( are there any other kind?) wearing an Ed Hardy tee and baseball cap, I knew it was all over . For Ed Hardy. Edgy International brands have never had it so bad. First , the recession. And then, Desi Men wearing Korean knockoffs. Poor Ed. All was going well for the brand till that point. At least when it came to true blue fashionistas like Yash Birla, who joined the Ed Hardy club years ago, when it was a relatively unknown label, popular in L.A. but nor really worn outside a small, charmed circle of ravers who liked the graphics and colours of the brand. This is a story that repeats itself each time say, a Sohail Khan, shows up wearing something hot off the fashion alleys of New York. The brand gets instantly devalued.It happened with True Religion, and J Brand jeans. And it happened over time with Gucci, Armani and the worst hit victim – Versace!! These brands have still to recover. Every second mechanic tinkering under your neighbour’s Porsche, wears Versace ( pronounced sweetly as WERE – SASE). Even the building watchmen who thoko smart salaams when in mufti, prefer Versace over other fakes…. Though, heaven help Ed, but I can see them switching loyalties rapidly.
So…. Why can’t Desi guys with means, be sensible and stick to desi gear? Why can’t they dress like Rahul Gandhi, for Chrissake??
Because they lack confidence.
Because they can’t be themselves.
Because they want desperately to be someone else …. Someone ‘cool’.
And nobody has told them that the coolest way to look is desi.
Not necessarily designer desi – just basic Fab India desi.
Our men look their sexiest in dhotis. Don’t believe me? Check out Shah Rukh Khan in a black dhoti, floating down the backwaters in Kerala with Preity Zinta. He has never looked better – before or since. And you can keep your six pack image of the star clad in shredded jeans and a wet shirt from ‘OMO’. Similarly, Akshay Kumar in the opening sequence of ‘Sinngh is Kinng’ (forgotten how many extra ‘g’s’ or ‘n’s’ there are in the title), looked just amazing in a long, pink khadi kurta worn over sloppy, non-designer jeans. This was inspired imaging, at once desi and super cool. His attackable chest is visible through the open, unbuttoned kurta (let’s not go further South – we know how much trouble that caused the guy!) made him look rugged and sexy, but not available and gigolo-ish. Most of our stars don’t get that distinction. You can look dishy, without providing the cutlery gratis.
Bollywood has gone brand-insane. The label consciousness and dependency has robbed actors of any individuality – they dress alike, look alike and talk alike. I miss the old rogues – those completely OTT guys who went out of their way to stand out… not conform, like today’s chaps. Remember Raaj (“Jaani’) Kumar, with his collection of carrot-coloured toupees and crazy velvet smoking jackets worn over breeches?? Or Pran, perennially clad in a maroon dressing gown? Dev Anand wearing impossibly high collared shirts ( maybe five of them, one over the other) under even higher collared jackets, topping the look with a cap at a rakish tilt over a well-constructed wig. Not forgetting the Isadora Duncan scarf, the broad belt and ankle length slacks ( shades of Michael Jackson). The late Feroz Khan, now being hailed as a style icon (how generous we are to the dead!), who invariably dressed like he was auditioning for a Spaghetti Western – a Clint Eastwood gone wrong. Come on, you guys… who wears a Stetson outside Texas? Feroz!! The Desi Cowboy rode into town from Bangalore and perpetually behaved like he was fighting Injuns in his backyard. Perhaps, he was!
Elvis had his blue suede shoes and our Jeetendra his shiney white ones. He loved his whites and still does. Along with Govinda and Mithun Chakraborthy, Jeetendra can get away with sartorial hara-kiri. These fellows are originals – bizarre, outlandish, scarey. But we still love them. Purple pants, yellow shirts, pink ties, green socks. Bring it on, brothers. Don’t ever get into the Dolce set. You don’t need to. Your fans love you just the way you are – disastrous but adorable. Leave the labels to the younger insecure set. Or be like John Abraham, who is happiest in nothing more fussy than snug swimming trunks. John The Butt has his fundamentals in place. He is the chilled out chappalwalla, who is so sure of himself he doesn’t feel the need to bother with dress codes.And being John, nobody reminds him. Salman has given a bad name to too many brands, so let’s leave him out of this. He is Salman. Cute and red hot. He is shirtless at the best of times, and so he should remain. It is only when he gets into designer clothes u wearthat one wants to scream, “Stylist!”
The bachchas on the block are B-O-R-I-N-G . I mean, Imran Khan does not have to wear rasta checks with Hanes undershirts at all times, surely?? Or that silly string tie? But he does! Shahid wears the same expression and outfit (can he not think beyond white shirts and jeans), but at least he looks like a regular insaan. Baby Bachchan is perpetually struggling with his weight, and often dresses like a maitre d’ – perhaps he thinks his height takes care of the details. No, honey, it really doesn’t. You cannot wear those strange dj’s with velvet lapels and hope to get away with it. That leaves Hritik Roshan. I’d say out of the lot, he shows some individuality, even if he does miss a fashion cue or two occasionally. He clearly loves his biceps as much as he loves Barbara. His shirt sleeves are rolled up tapori-style, no matter where and what.Royal purple sems to be his favourite colour ( a hangover from ‘Jodha Akbar’?). But it goes with his personality and I am sure Barbara loves it on him. Saif Ali Khan is frequently referred to as a Nawab who knows his style. I’d agree. Forget those bandanas for a moment ( even men have their bad hair days), but this Khan gets it right down to the last button.
My suggestion to all these wonderful men is simple – style is not about who or what you wear. It is about who you are when the lights are switched off. Once you figure that one out, everything else automatically falls into place. Jai Ho!
This appeared in the Asian Age over the weekend. As you can tell, I had fun writing it.
More fun than analysing the bloody budget ( the market's tanked).
Officially, the budget is supposed to be 'sensible and pro-growth'. But frankly, it is a huge letdown and most disappointing. Pranab Babu - between you and Mamatadi, we are screwed!