To sport a beard or not is the question, once again, as FB, current films and known personalities flaunt the feature
You either hate it or you love it. The only real question is whether to have a beard or not. There are just two kinds of men in the world—those who have beards and those who don’t. In the beard debate, these clichés work perfectly. And the beard is worth a debate now, for many young men are proud to flaunt theirs. Mens thadi style.
FaceBook has a page, named Thaadi Bros (Beard brothers), dedicated to all the bearded men. Started by four guys (Hrishikesh, Febin, Hrishon, Ganesh and Deepu), who are passionate about the beard, the online network soon spread to include like-bearded souls, who share photos, wisecracks and quotes such as: Rule no. 1: Grow a beard. Rule No.2. Never violate rule No. 1.
The beard has always stood for something in popular culture—superior intellect, a creative streak or a hint of rebelliousness. But now it has come back in the spotlight with the Prithviraj-starrer Tamar Padar, which calls itself a beard story (Oru Thaadi Katha). The song thaadi paattu (beard song) , too, has impressed pogonophiles alike.
For reasons practical, fashionable or political, the beard inspires strong feelings. Jean Paul Lal, filmmaker, says he has had at least three people tell him every day that he should consider shaving. Jean sports a full beard and has paid no attention to his critics. Jean was born into a family where all the men had grand beards. His father, actor and filmmaker Lal, has a full beard too.
“My dad’s beard, of course, was an inspiration,” he says. During his student days in Christ College, Bangalore, he was one among the only few in the Commerce batch who was allowed to have facial hair.
“I got a fake medical certificate to be able to keep a beard,” he says. Jean recounts a harrowing one-and-a-half hour grilling at the American Embassy in Chennai by virtue of his beard. “My beard is a part of me. I cannot step out without it. I would feel naked without it,” he says.
Cool moustache and beard styles
The beard for some is inextricably linked to their identity. Govind Menon of Thaikkudam Bridge, who wears his full beard thick, says he has been facing immense pressure from home to shave, but has not relented just as yet. “I feel confident with it. It is like something I can rely on. At least I can tug at it,” he says. Govind has had a moustache from Class VII onwards. “Even my dog doesn’t approve of it. I don’t know…I might have to shave off my beard soon.” Maintenance? “That’s the point of a beard, isn’t it?. It needs no maintenance”
The popularity of the beard has dipped and risen in history. Alexander the Great is said to have ordered his soldiers to shave in order to prevent the enemies from holding on to their beards while killing them.
The thinkers, the philosophers, the revolutionaries all had facial hair. Surveys spring up time and again on the appeal of the beard. While the ancient Greeks associated a lush facial growth to virility, Indian culture equalled a long beard to wisdom and spirituality.
Over the years, it came to be indicative of non-conformity. “In the nineties, if you turned up for a corporate job interview with a beard, chances are that you may not be hired,” says Raghu Kumar, an IT professional who went “clean” and has never gone back to his ‘fuzzy’ days. “Artists, journalists, filmmakers, musicians and authors,” he adds, are free to nurture theirs.
Maintaining a full beard can be a chore, says Govind Padmasoorya, an actor and TV personality. He has been sporting a beard for the show, ‘D4 Dance’, and says his popularity has increased manifold. “A mother of a three-year old called me one day to say that her daughter adores the ‘beard man’.
GP’s (as Padmasoorya is popularly known) beards are styled differently each time. “My stylist, Bawa, even made a ‘W’ with my beard. As an actor I guess the beard helps a great deal in trying out different looks. I have had college boys ask me how to grow a beard and keep it and what styles to try. It’s very macho and I truly consider myself lucky for my super-fast hair growth. Not every man is blessed that way.”
Jaison Cooper, a human rights activist, says it is the most natural thing for a man and wonders why those without beards are not asked why they don’t. He has a longish, flowy beard, which has often invited suspicious stares from police men.
“I can understand why the aspiring Communists want to keep beards. Marx, Engels and Che had classy ones. But my beard is not a political statement.”
Munz of the band The Down Troddence believes he feels like a man with his beard. A bike rider, he says the feeling of the wind on his bearded-face is incomparable. “I know this sounds gross, but I also chew on my beard. A musician can also be short-haired, clean-faced, but I feel comfortable with my beard.”
Says Ganesh of Thaadi Bros: “We take our beards seriously. It is not about the length, the style or the type. The only important thing is the heart to have one.”
Cool beard looks
For reasons practical, fashionable or political, the beard has always inspired strong feelings