What implied someone’s relative passing away, has now become Bollywood and Hollywood’s new favourite way to typecast. The recent crop of bald characters that have made their way to silver screens, also happen to either portray villains, historical characters or mere comical roles. There have been numerous such instances: be it Sanjay Dutt and Arjun Kapoor in Panipat, Akshay Kumar in Housefull 4, Ranveer Singh in Bajirao Mastani, or Rajkummar Rao in Bose.
Producer Shwetaabh Singh acknowledges this phenomenon. He believes that the difference between our industry and Hollywood in the portrayal of any character is that Indian cinema is not realistic with their depictions. “Our heroes have to be macho, perfect men. Plus, It’s a star-driven industry. So, for a portrayal of a bald guy, we would get a star to go bald rather than get a good actor who is actually bald,” he adds.
Singh also points out that baldness, crooked teeth and being overweight are “Looked down upon as some kind of defect by our people”. He continues, “And our cinema is a reflection of that. It runs on a make-believe system rather than actual belief. Even in Hollywood, the bald actors are mostly playing action stars.”
Bald actor and Youtube personality Sahil Khattar believes that he is not equipped to comment on the typecasting, since he is no “Bollywood historian”. But he does point out that Indian audiences are opening up now. He feels, “I don’t think I know why everyone stereotypes the bald guys, I just know it will break soon.”
He continues, “If you literally put a light on our bald heads, thetalent shines.” One will soon get to see him in Kabir Khan’s ’83, where he plays the role of wicketkeeper batsman Syed Kirmani. “To portray a bald guy and me being a bald guy in the industry trying to make it on his own, I feel proud that the guys who cast me and Kabir Khan took a great decision. They did not get another guy or a bigger star to go bald.”
Khyati Arora, a theatre student, expresses, “There are certain stereotypes built across certain roles and it cannot be broken in one go. An image has been created over many years and people are not always readily open to changes.”
While a film like Bala, which deals with premature baldness, is about to hit silver screens later this year, Singh is of the opinion that a film representing a bald actor has to deal with baldness because the only reason such films are made is because of the subject and the issue.
In our eyes, it’s a problem, so we present it like one. “We should start accepting these things as a part of a character's being, and not always present things as issues. That would make our films much more interesting.”
Khattar confesses that India does not have a bald bankablestar presently. But after ’83, who knows, we might have one. “These guys are in some way or the other trying to make bald guys more acceptable. They are paving the way for us to go ahead and shine brighter.”...