Hair is elemental in a Bollywood movie star’s beauty.
From songs dedicated to reshmi zulfein to entry scenes full of dreamily flying silky tresses, the fixation is loud and clear.
In such a limited scenario, bald individuals could either be the face of evil, elderly support or cheesy comedy.
This year though balding itself is at the centre of storytelling.
All the three movies — Gone Kesh, Ujda Chaman and now Bala — revolve around characters suffering from acute hair loss.
Ritu Nandal looks at all the significant bald imagery of Bollywood through the years.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Shaan
Shakaal remains one of the most iconic Hindi film villains.
The menace he brings to the part can also be attributed to his Blofeld-inspired look.
Amrish Puri, Oh Darling Yeh Hai India, Tehelka, Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom
While Bollywood’s beloved villain sported all kinds of curious wigs to play antagonists, often he’d just retain his original bald pate and exaggerate it with crazy tattoos and paints to appear foreboding.
Anupam Kher, Saaransh and Hum
Few have owned their baldness as effortlessly as Anupam.
In his 30s, he was already playing a senior citizen in Saaransh, which fetched him a Filmfare award.
But his twinning bald bad guys act with Annu Kapoor in Hum shows his ability to have fun with it.
Padosan‘s Tam-Brahm stereotype is immortalised in Mehmood’s funny, frivolous take as Saira Banu’s music teacher: Master Pillai.
His tonsured pate with just a tuft of hair at the back aims to add to the amusement.
Half a century later, Bollywood is still serving the same brand of humour.
Shetty, Bob Christo, Rami Reddy
Popular silver screen baddies and henchmen portrayed by the likes of Shetty, Bob Christo and Rami Reddy have rigorously enforced the tendency to link cruelty with clean-shaven heads.
Danny Denzongpa, Pukar
Brutual, bold kohl-line eyed, Danny’s deadly baldhead terrorist in Pukar is the embodiment of cinematic evil.
Sanjay Dutt, Agneepath
Speaking of Danny, while the actor sported a slick back hairstyle as Kancha Cheena in the original, Sanjay Dutt shaved off his hair to evoke Marlon Brando’s bald avatar in Apocalypse Now.
Coming from the once-trendsetter-in-hairstyle-fashion, this was quite a big deal.
Paresh Rawal, Sardar
The actor’s receding hairline in Ketan Mehta’s acclaimed biopic is to achieve physical authenticity while essaying Sardar Patel.
Arjun Rampal, Ra.One
Shaving off one’s hair for a role is relatively recent trend.
Arjun rocked a sinister skinhead to play the villain in Ra.One.
Shahid Kapoor, Haider
So did Shahid to convey his character’s mental breakdown as the son going crazy searching for his missing father in and as the Hamlet-inspired Haider.
Ranveer Singh, Tanvi Azmi, Bajirao Mastani
If Ranveer shaved off his big hair to depict Bajirao’s formative years in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s opulent epic, his on screen mother Tanvi sports a shaven scalp to highlight the unkind rituals of widowhood applied in those times.
David and Om Prakash, Chupke Chupke
And then there were David Abraham and Om Prakash, the adorable ‘uncle’ figures of Hindi cinema whose wisdom and wit made us love them for exactly the way they are.
Saurabh Shukla, Satya
Bald and comfortable with it, Saurabh resists the wig route and has done rather well playing memorable characters from Satya to Jolly LLB.
Amitabh Bachchan, Paa
A 60-something AB dons on serious layers of prosthetic and takes on the challenge of portraying a 12-year-old schoolboy diagnosed with progeria, a rare medical condition that hastens his ageing process.
Feroz Khan, Janasheen
A lot of ageing superstars prefer to don customised wigs and stay close to the idea of stardom.
Some embrace the changes and even make a swaggering statement out of it like the inimitable Feroz Khan in films like Janasheen and Welcome.
Kangana Ranaut, Katti Batti
A rom-com takes a tragic turn when Kangana’s character is diagnosed with a terminal disease as part of its third act.
Cancer, chemotherapy, baldness, bleakness follow.
Anushka Sharma, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Ditto for Anushka Sharma in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil‘s take on unrequited romance.
Except here Ranbir Kapoor as the friend crushing on her follows suit to show his support and, maybe, win her heart.
Priyanka Chopra, Mary Kom
If it’s not something as drastic as cancer, it has to be something dramatic like Priyanka losing her cool over a missing passport right before an international tournament in and as Mary Kom to go ‘snip snip’ all the way.
Akshay Kumar, Housefull 4
Offensive humour is the soul of the Housefull franchise.
When it’s not racist or sexist jokes, there’s an entire gag build around a bald-headed prince played by Akshay Kumar.
Of course, he’ll be called Bala to shove in the irony.