Look who's changing: Bollywood heroes are experimenting with looks in a bid to get into the skin of their roles
|Beefed-up: Actor Aamir Khan had to hire a personal trainer in order to prepare for his latest role|
The skin they live in is changing. A film industry that has never really bothered with how authentic its lead stars look as long as they turn up sexy is suddenly paying attention to whether appearances suit the roles.
Gone are the days when Amitabh Bachchan would sport the same hairdo irrespective of whether he was playing a cop or a smuggler. With image taking a backseat and with commercial stars willing to experiment with roles, a makeover in the looks department was a natural next step.
Over the next few months, Aamir Khan will sport a bushy moustache to fit into his cop's role in Talaash. Ajay Devgn sports a turban and thick beard to play a Sikh in Son Of Sardar.
Akshay Kumar goes for a rugged, moustachioed get-up while playing the no-nonsense policeman in Rowdy Rathore. Imran Khan is wearing a stubble and building biceps for his Jat character in Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola. Madhavan gets a funky goatie on his chin for his unusual avatar as a professional who facilitates break-ups in Jodi Breakers.
Ranbir Kapoor sports a funny hairdo teamed with pencil moustache to suit his role of a goofy, differently-abled man in Barfi while Rajeev Khandelwal sports a retro hairdo in Will You Marry Me?
While most heroes are willing to experiment with looks, our heroines sadly don't reveal the gumption. Except the stray example of Mahie Gill in Buddha In A Traffic Jam or Shilpa Shetty in The Desire, most of them stick to uberglam, size zero basics.
If Kamal Haasan really started the trend of using prosthetics in films such as Chachi 420 and Dashavatharam, Aamir has been Bollywood's chameleon. He sported long hair and flowing moustache while playing Mangal Pandey in The Rising and then cropped his hair for Ghajini.
'Change in look immediately puts me into the world of the character,' Aamir said around the time Ghajini released.
As more and more actors take a cue from Aamir, a vital question crops up: Is the change for real, or is it merely a cosmetic stunt to woo the box-office?
RANBIR KAPOOR in BARFI THE AVATAR
Ranbir plays a goofy guy who is deaf in this Anurag Basu film. Ranbir had to shed weight for the role, which casts him as a deaf character.
|Reports have suggested that director Anurag Basu and the actor spent days to arrive at the right look for the deceptively naive guy who becomes the focal point of a murder mystery in this dark comedy.|
Playing a commoner named Murphy - he pronounces the name as Barfi - Ranbir sports Bengali kurtas with ordinary jeans and half-sleeve sweaters.
AJAY DEVGN in SON OF SARDAR THE AVATAR
Ajay plays a Patiala-based Sikh in a remake of the Telugu comedy Maryada Ramanna. This is the first time Ajay will play a Sikh in a fictitious role, after essaying freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in Rajkumar Santoshi's The Legend Of Bhagat Singh.
Ajay plays a Patialabased Sikh in a remake of the Telugu comedy Maryada Ramanna
|The turban and beard apart, everything else is very different compared to Santoshi's film.|
Son of Sardar is a comedy and Ajay plays a funny, citybred Sikh. The look comprises a turban, thick beard and a kada on the wrist.
On the sets, it would reportedly take a good three hours at an average for Ajay to get his pagdi right.
AKSHAY KUMAR in ROWDY RATHORE THE AVATAR
Akshay plays the double roles of a crook and an IPS officer in the Prabhu Deva film. To distinguish his double role, Akshay has decided to give his tough cop act a macho look.
Akshay Kumar in a scene from Rowdy Rathore
|As the cop in Rowdy Rathore, the actor sports a thick moustache that twirls at the ends and teams it with shades that seem straight out of Salman Khan's Dabangg.|
Reportedly, twirl in the moustache was Akki's idea to offset a similar look he will don in his avatar of Dawood Ibrahim in the sequel of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai.
SHILPA SHETTY in THE DESIRE THE AVATAR
Shilpa plays a Bharatnatyam dancer who subsequently embraces Buddhism.
When Shilpa's bald look in The Desire was revealed, fans were shocked. Shilpa was known as a sex symbol all along, sporting the perfect look.
SHILPA SHETTY IN THE DESIRE
|Now that her commercial career is over, The Desire sees her take an offbeat turn. She plays a classical dancer who later embraces Buddhism. The bald look was perfected using prosthetics.|
AAMIR KHAN in TALAASH THE AVATAR
Aamir plays a cop in the psychological thriller. He beefed up for the look of a cop in the film and grew a trademark moustache to acquire a tough look.
The actor hired a trainer from London, who for several months put him on a special diet and a special workout session.
Aamir went into hiding to grow his moustache and was seen sporting the same till the shooting of the film was completed. He insists his beefed-up look in Talaash is different from the six-pack avatar of Ghajini.
MADHAVAN in JODI BREAKERS THE AVATAR
Madhavan plays a professional who facilitates break-ups.
|He settled on a funky goatie look for his separation specialist avatar in the comedy.|
Madhavan has always been known for his affable guy-nextdoor roles, so when he set off to play a cunning man who specialises in arranging break-ups between estranged couples, a makeover was needed. Madhavan and Bipasha in the movie Jodi Breakers
The style quotient is meant to define a man who hides his own commitment phobia beneath a sexy look.
RAJEEV KHANDELWAL in WILL YOU MARRY ME? THE AVATAR
Rajeev plays a playboy in the rom-com. Rajeev has acquired two different looks for the rom-com, which sees him playing a character with metrosexual edge.
|One look sees him sport seventiesstyle, sideparted long hair while the other has him sporting curly locks.|
Rajeev reveals the two looks were necessary to depict various stages of the character although he won't reveal details just yet.
IMRAN KHAN in MATRU KI BIJLI KA MANDOLA THE AVATAR
Imran plays a temperamental Jat in the Vishal Bhardwaj comedy. To get into the skin of his role of a rough-hewn Haryanvi, Imran has already grown his beard and gotten his ear pierced.
Bollywood actors Imran Khan
|He will add 15 kilos for a sturdy Jat look and is researching on body language.|
The shooting of the film starts this month and Imran has also learnt functional Haryanvi for the right diction.
RANDEEP HOODA in RANG RASIYA THE AVATAR
Randeep plays Raja Ravi Varma, the 19th century artist. Randeep's' look, as much as his steamy scenes with Nandana Sen, generated buzz.
|Trademark Raja Ravi Varma moustache and dark make-up for the right skin tone helped Randeep get into the skin of the celebrated artist in this Ketan Mehta film.|
MAHIE GILL in BUDDHA IN A TRAFFIC JAM THE AVATAR
Mahie plays an activist, based on Arundhati Roy. Not many actresses meddle with hairstyle but Mahie Gill is unconventional.
|For her role of an NGO worker inspired by author-activist Arundhati Roy, Mahie chopped her hair. She will be wearing cotton saris, metal jewellery and a kohl-eyed look.|
Bollywood heroines normally hesitate to experiment with looks. Vidya Balan's prosthetic get-up around the jowl to go with her overweight look towards the end of The Dirty Picture was a one-off instance.
When it comes to experimenting with looks Bollywood heroines have never been forthcoming. Most of our top actresses choose to stick to a standard picture of glamour.
Priyanka Chopra in 7 kKhoon Maaf was a rare case of a Hindu film heroine experimenting with her look
|Priyanka Chopra in 7 kKhoon Maaf was a rare case of a Hindu film heroine experimenting with her look|
|Unrecognisable: Hollywood actress Meryl Streep in the role of Margaret Thatcher|
While playing different characters, they more or less stick to a look of perfection unlike Hollywood heroines who liberally experiment with looks. Meryl Streep, for instance, is making waves right now with her prosthetic cheek bones in The Iron Lady, while reprising her Oscar-nominated role of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Unrecognisable: Hollywood actress Meryl Streep in the role of Margaret Thatcher
It would take Streep a good two hours every day to get into the skin of the role.
Gwyneth Paltrow wore a fatsuit and heavy padding on the face to play an obese woman in the 2001 film Shallow Hal. Stray examples in Bollywood include Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das going bald for Deepa Mehta's Water, but the director had to make the film with a different cast owing to political reasons.
Priyanka Chopra in 7 Khoon Maaf is another example. She donned seven different looks as her character moved from 16 to 60. Priyanka also played 12 different characters in What's Your Raashee? but none of the looks made a distinct impression.
As far as most Bollywood heroines go, experimenting with looks is mostly about shifting from size zero to a more fulsome frame. Kareena Kapoor, for instance, went size zero in Tashan and acquired a fuller, Chhammak Chhallo frame for her role in Ra.One.