Go Going Blond

Saif Ali Khan’s strawberry-top avatar pushes many an envelope.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published:May 14, 2013 12:00 am

HE looked almost embarrassed when he emerged from the airport last July,the sports cap on his head doing a rotten job of masking his blond sides. Saif Ali Khan had just returned from Mauritius where he had been shooting for Go,Goa,Gone and the paparazzi favourite was snapped rushing to his car. The next morning’s papers took expected jabs at the hairstyle.

But the actor is having the last snigger on this one. Not only has his home production kitted a few good reviews,his outlandish turn as a wannabe Russian mafia goon has been commended. Even his bleached blond look in the film has been forgiven.

I personally think Khan’s saffron blond (this is India after all) style needs to be celebrated. It’s significant on so many counts. On one hand it speaks remarkably of an actor,a hugely talented actor,who throws caution to the wind and experiments with his looks. This Khan (mercifully) doesn’t belong to the troika of Bollywood’s King Khans chasing their 100-crore insecurities.

It also speaks of an individual whose handsomeness may be fading but he still wants to provoke and play. It may also be noted that his last turn as a blond man in Tashan was in 2008 and earned him many jeers.

But the tatted-out,t-shirt fitted,gun-mad Boris is a character we’ve all fallen for. Whether he cusses in Hindi or smatters in Russian,Khan’s swashbuckling heroics are hysterical.

Interestingly,blond men in western popular culture have usually been associated with evil. The hero is rarely light-haired — he is conventionally Tall,Dark and Handsome. The blond anti-hero is evident in Paul Bettany’s albino Silas (The Da Vinci Code) or Javier Bardem as the menacing Raoul Silva (Skyfall). The stereotype was especially obvious in the American teenage movies of the 1980s and 1990s. The football/ baseball jock almost always had blond hair and blue eyes to match his dimness. He never got the girl.

Where women are concerned,it has often been teased that gentlemen do prefer blondes,borrowing from Marilyn Monroe’s famous film. But a recent study conducted in the UK found that men see women with dark hair as “deeper” and “more sensible” than blondes and thus make better girlfriends or wives.

Interestingly,ten years after he published The Origin of Species in 1859,Charles Darwin began to research the sexual selection of blonde hair in women for his book The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. His research was inconclusive and he had to drop the subject.

Blond men are rarely an instant hit. Ryan Gosling,the 30-year-old Hollywood hottie,didn’t make many heartbeats skip as a platinum blond in last month’s The Place Beyond the Pines. Besides,bleached blonds are usually gay men.

Which is why Khan’s hirsute pursuit in his new film is only brave. It isn’t going to change the game for straight men or dark-haired heroes for sure. Nor are any of Khan’s women fans hoping he keeps the crop in real life.

It’s enough that it has given the actor reason to pop a bottle that is sparkling and golden too.

(namratanow@gmail.com)

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