Monthly Archives: March 2012

Men and their Make-up

What’s Good for the Goose, Is Good for the Gander?

I was at a Sephora store in Las Vegas last year where I first glimpsed…up front and close-up…a man in street clothes wearing make-up during normal working hours.

Sure, movie stars, models and pretty much anyone who is being photographed for TV… you expect all of them to wear make-up and lots of it, men included.

But, at that Sephora store…one of the sales guys had all the make-up you would normally see on women.  Since that is a cosmetics store, he was also being a brand ambassador of sorts.  Okay, so that was the sales guy.

Then I noticed that there were quite a few guys shopping for make-up at the same store.  These were normal looking guys (even for a city that is not Las Vegas).  

And they were not loading up on your usual after-shave lotion or moisturizer.  They had foundation and mascara in their little shopping baskets. I guess I was picking up on a new trend.

Well, not to be outdone, it appears that the Indian man is also into cosmetics now.

Is it just me or are you also amazed at the rate of travel of trends these days? They appear to move at the speed of light – crossing mountains, oceans, land and entire continents!

The Indian man is no more just a user of mundane soaps, (the occasional fairness cream!) and after-shave lotions.

At malls  in large cities, high end stores with names like Men and boyS are beginning to appear. They sell products such as these:

Face washes, cleansers and scrubs, facial clay, lava and mineral mud masks, purifying and energizing masks, facial moisturisers, exfoliation scrubs, detoxifying exfoliating masks, anti-breakout gels, pore-reducing serums, pre-shave oils and guards, hot towel pre-shave treatment, electric pre-shave optimisers, shaving creams, foams and lathers, after-shave creams, soothers and moisturisers and after-shave balm, among others.

Back to the Future

Here’s what this store has to say about their line of cosmetics:

Historically, men’s grooming was prevalent in ancient civilizations. Men used oils, rouge, and kohl in their routine lives.  In recent times, men’s cosmetics usage spread to a much wider population led by the metrosexuality phenomenon in the early 2000s.

And it goes on to say:

Our founder realized that cosmetics made for men were just not available in India and that most of the cosmetics giants just re-label women’s products as pour homme (for men).  Thus, he went into further research and discovered that there were many companies around the world that make cosmetics especially for men’s skin.

Obviously we are growing a new generation of looks and grooming-conscious Indian men. This is not a bad thing to be happening.

There is solid evidence of this everywhere you look in India – in gyms, retail clothing stores, fashion ramps, movies, magazines and TV.  Why not in the area of cosmetics? It was bound to happen sooner or later.

So, here then, is more uncharted territory that is just beginning to take shape in this emerging economy.  Given the change in spending patterns and the growth of disposable income in a fast growing class of Indians, there is much to be shaped and created here.

And, if the West is the model to follow, soon I will spy that similarly made-up sales guy or male customer in a Mumbai Sephora store. Why not?

A New Bollywood Treasure: Paan Singh Tomar

Every once in a long while, the usual Bollywood rubbish is interrupted by a treasure. Do you know how long it’s been since I wrote a sentence similar to this one?  Exactly.

Without much ado, here’s the official trailer of this treasure. While the trailer does not really do full  justice, it does give you a good idea of what the movie is about:

Tight screenplay, editing and direction combined with versatile Irrfan‘s superlative acting skills make this a must-watch.

I will go so far as to say that in this day and age, it’s hard to find a better actor from India than Irrfan Khan. Even with his minor role in Slumdog Millionaire, he made a lasting impact. In The Namesake, he hit it out of the ballpark.

Again in this movie, he demonstrates how he and the main character are integral and entwined – making it difficult to detect the “actor”, Irrfan Khan. Here’s someone who comes across as an unassuming human being (and anything but a Bollywood “star”) but turns into a towering presence as he takes on a meaty (or not so meaty) role. [I can’t wait to see Irrfan in his upcoming movie, Life of Pi, being directed by Ang Lee in which he plays the adult Pi…to be released before Christmas this year].

In this one, his acting is incredibly and finely nuanced such that this movie with its unique story and character turns into a solid showcase for his masterful performance (notwithstanding the cast of solid supporting actors).

It is inspired by the true story of Paan Singh Tomar – who many in India had not heard of prior to this film.  An unheralded national sports champion, he only gained fame and notoriety once he was forced to turn into a dangerous dacoit (dacoit: an armed robber, usually part of a band of them, found in various parts of remote Indian hills and valleys).

The movie also exposes and is dedicated to all the unsung sports heroes of India who are barely noticed by their country and her citizens – unless they play cricket.  Is there any reason to doubt the lack of focus on sports in this country?

I’ll end as I began…it’s extremely rare to find a masterpiece coming out of Bollywood.  Don’t waste this opportunity to enjoy one. Watch it for the story, the direction, the characters, the message…and watch it for the sheer talent of Irrfan.


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