For a lot of us who cover Bollywood going-ons, a good part of last week was spent marvelling at actor Shahid Kapoor’s angst and dilemma over shearing his locks for a film titled Haider. In a near imitation of Hamlet’s immortal, ‘To be or not to be’ conundrum, Shahid Kapoor’s quandary of ‘to snip or not to snip’ had been making headlines for a while now. His mind once made up, the final pronouncement of the fate of the tresses came on Twitter on January 28th, the “Chop chop day”.
Fortunately, it turned out that Shahid Kapoor’s haircut didn’t look bad at all and it only helps the cause of the film in question that the haircut countdown had created quite a buzz about the film, which is still in the making. Curious and quirky sure, but it’s not a first. Of late the ‘method’ in B-town has taken centrestage. Whether it is working on one’s diction, the six pack abs or kissing right, there is certainly a new madness about the method in new-age Bollywood.
The prep, if you check with showbiz veterans, however, is not really a recent phenomenon. Actor Anil Kapoor in his last film Shootout At Wadala that had him playing a cop, went to dhobi ghat and rehearsed running on slippery wet stone slabs in order to get his chase scene right. For him, this was nothing new. He has often spoke about how, even back in the ’80s, he’d straighten his collars or wear a cap and dress or speak a certain way to look the part. When I asked him about whether more effort now went into getting the nuances of a character right, he rather matter-of factly pointed out that the only difference was in the amount of attention and publicity dedicated to prepping for the role.
Of course,the lion’s share of credit for bringing it out of the closet would rest with Aamir Khan. Whether it was talk of perfecting his diction, getting a six-pack, learning to tap-dance or getting into the mood — the actor has done it all and lived to tell the tale.
Others may or may not have articulated their preparedness quite as effectively in the past but now, everyone is catching up and pretty fast too. So dance lessons, hirsute pursuits, weight watch diary, interacting with differently-abled people, diction classes, dance lessons and more, are the oft-heard conversations in studios in recent times.
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And why not? What’s the point of all that hard work if the cinema viewing junta is none the wiser about the toil and effort that goes into creating those magic moments? Besides, publicising the actors’ behind-the-scenes effort to draw attention to the film is now a well accepted way of promoting both, the film and the actor. The practice is certainly harmless and perhaps as effective as the older strategy of fanning talks of a possible romance or rivalry between the lead actors. Evidently, behind-the-scenes bravura is the new glamorous.