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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Triumvariate

You cannot really take moustaches out of Bollywood. From the walrus in Mughal-e-Azam to the feline joke in Shree 420, from the neatly designed Pyaasa to the dense, compact Hero, from the treacherous Saudagar to the regal Jodha Akbar, from the charismatic Prem Pratigya to the ubiquitous Shakti Kapoor butterflies, it has been moustaches galore everywhere right from the very beginning to the very rotten, from the very unique to the very lupine ones. And I won't even mention the kings from the South of the Vindhyas here, they have taken their bristles to a different plane altogether.

The purpose of this article is not to dissect the brillinace of moustaches with respect to era, popularity, sensuousness or underworld involvement of a movie. This is simply to enlist the top (or bottom) three moustaches in the history of the industry:

Gambler: The Horizontal Hanging Garden
You cannot keep Dev Anand out of anything that concerns Bollywood. Period. You never could, and you shall never be able to, however hard you might try. From Guide to Love at Times Square, he has touched almost any level achievable by anyone in the history of Bollywood. Gambler, possibly the only Bollywood film till date with two leading actresses whose names start with a Z, gets our first entry on the list.

As Dev-saab meticulously put those inimitable lips to dil aaj shaayar hai, we sat there, enthralled, amazed in front of the TV set listening to Kishore Kumar singing a song without a sthayi (mukhda) or an antara; but what took away my breath was that horizontal bit of vegetation, the ends clearly dangling, the roots originating in mid-air. It looked so unreal that you had to remain open-mouthed, awestruck.

I suppose he was persistent in his attention-seeking mode: Gairon ke sheron ko o sunnewaalon, ho is taraf bhi karam.

Daag: The 8.20 Magic
If you had replaced the hands of a clock with moustaches when the clock struck exactly 8.20 (well, approximately), you'd get exactly what Kaka had put on for mere dil mein aaj kya hai. Trust Yash Chopra to convince the leading actor of the era to spot a hideous moustache while being picturised in a picturesque location to a Kishore Kumar masterpiece.

I suppose the whole thing was an intended camouflage. Remember the second antara? Koi dhoondne bhi aaye, to humen na dhoond paaye.

Lamhe: The Golden Absence
There was a time when we used to think YRF was all about shooting chiffon-clad women on Swiss hills and Dutch gardens. Wrong. They're also about redefining moustache habits of leading actors of their times.

Consider, for example, Anil Kapoor. The Anil Kapoor. The winner of any kind of body hair award among homo sapiens, and good enough to give a bear or two a good run for their money. One would think it would have been impossible to get him rid of his prized growth. But then, you can't put anything beyond the illustrious man and his productions.

What did he look like? Man, HIDEOUS. Absolutely pathetic. It was for good reason that Sridevi and Lataji cast a glance at him, and broke out Main to laaj ke maare, ho gayi paani paani...

Yes, there's good reason to be embarrassed of sharing a screen with an Anil Kapoor without facial hair.


  1. it must be said that a moustache on dev anand's face has never been a pleasant sight. or at least, rarely so. two examples that come to mind immediately are "hum dono" and "warrant". the moustache in the latter was nothing short of hideous.

    kaka-ji however has mostly looked good with the facial hairs. i can't imagine what came upon him while making "daag".

  2. When i came to hyderabad for the 1st time i was pretty confused why must all the local males sport a thick mustache. I thought they emulated their screen-heroes.
    But a colleague of mine pointed out that the females of this area had a thick upper-lip hair growth & never resorted to "threading" & hence....

  3. 'gNoph-er ami, gNoph-er tumi
    gNoph diye jaay chena.'

  4. ami khushi je meyeder gonph hoy na.

    thank god for the small (or not so small) favor.