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Truly, madly, beardly

What’s all the fuzz about?Illustration: Mihir Balantrapu; (below) Kamal in Virumaandi and Suriya in Singam 2

What’s all the fuzz about?Illustration: Mihir Balantrapu; (below) Kamal in Virumaandi and Suriya in Singam 2  

A victim of ‘beardism’, VISHAL MENON finds all is fine and dandy during no-shave November

You know one when you see one. You notice them sizing you up with every glance, slyly hinting at the ‘Management Reserves the Right to Refuse Entry’ sign hanging ominously over you.

You think twice before entering a Swiss watch store or a German car showroom to avoid poor service and comments like ‘he’s not going to be able to afford it’. Finding a house on rent becomes twice as difficult, and in their presence, selling something on OLX or pooling an Uber becomes an accomplishment in itself.

We call them ‘beardists’ and NO, they shall not have me this month.

It’s ‘No-shave November’, a cancer awareness campaign that urges people to donate money that’s typically spent on shaving, and it’s a time I look forward to ever since I was unceremoniously refused entry into a three-star hotel in Dadar.

For us ‘dalindars’, as we’re not-so-fondly called up north, it’s a campaign that has given our fight new meaning. Come November and that prudish relative who once called you ‘love failure’, retreats mildy to, ‘he’s just misunderstood’.

Like how even a broken clock is right twice a day, November is that time of the year when life is rosiest for those of us who see our beards as lifelong companions.

But why can’t this bliss extend to the other 11 months? Why can’t people like me, and stubblers (our younger cousins), be treated on par with the pretty boys at Gillette?

The trick, in my opinion, is to start another campaign. A campaign against the ‘facially’ motivated attacks we face on a daily basis. A campaign so vocal that we call out every effort in pop culture to stereotype a bearded man as someone lesser than the clean-shaven.

For instance, when the first-look posters of Kabali released, with the biggest Superstar of them all sporting a beard, we felt we had found in Rajini our true liberator. Yet the film’s betrayal shook us no end as we witnessed Kabali guiltlessly abandoning his majestic mane, just in time to meet his long-lost wife. For the director, it might have been an easy visual to symbolise that Kabali’s tough times were over, but for us, that scene killed our icon.

With Yennai Arindhaal too, one had expected Ajith to uphold the values we consider sacred. So imagine our shock to note that his beard (just like his role in Vedalam ) found place only in scenes where he’s portrayed as a criminal. Even Suriya (in Vaaranam Aayiram ) and Vikram (in Iru Mugan ) sport beards only after the death of their lovers. And don’t even get me started with Dhanush in Kodi .

I propose that our filmmakers (despite a majority of them being one among us) rethink their portrayal of the bearded as criminal, psychotic, angry or lonely individuals. And I propose that we ban every film that shows a bearded man as one who has lost in love.

Shouldn’t we too be shown as naïve, likeable people, perfectly capable of happiness, who bathe twice a day? Why can’t every day feel like a day in November?

Suggestions are welcome to give the campaign a name unless you wouldn’t mind being part of ‘PETU’ (People for the Ethical Treatment of the Unshaven) or ‘BABA’ (Bachelors Against Beardism and Agony).

After all, it’s the least we can do for man’s second-best friend.






Shouldn’t we too be shown as naïve, likeable people, perfectly capable of happiness, who bathe twice a day?



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