From the archives (2007): Bollywood's craze for abs – India Today

There stands the king. He looms above town skyline, his traditional perch, sending out particular vibes to the brotherhood of the metro man beneath. For the primary time, he poses in bare-chested glory: a white shirt slipping off his shoulders, slab-like pecs glistening, six-pack abs rippling, biceps bulging. His tummy is so washboard, it’s virtually unreal. His physique is so lean, it’s virtually an anatomy chart. And the effervescent crowd below the billboard is abuzz: is the Emperor with out his garments, or most of them, for actual or is that this simply an phantasm?

Regardless of the fact, the brand new Shah Rukh Khan-look sends a transparent sign: masculinity has turned a nook. And a brand new physique strategy is doing the rounds. In tv advertisements, on billboards, in newspapers and magazines, in all places, there’s an Adonis—all chiselled muscle and washboard abs. City Indian males will not be simply pumping iron or downing steroids to look higher. Now, surgeons say, a rising quantity are asserting their manliness by taking recourse to new, and even controversial, procedures in beauty surgical procedure. “Masculinity is not what you thought it was,” says psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar. Physique good is now the credo and self-importance the overriding motive.

And proper now, the King of Bollywood is the function mannequin. Shah Rukh Khan at all times makes headlines. However few might have predicted the squall of gossip, hypothesis, admiration, criticism and racing pulses that will observe after he stripped off his shirt for his forthcoming movie, Om Shanti Om. Whereas Khan and his coach point out a troublesome routine— cardio and weight coaching, particular low- carb, excessive protein weight loss plan, amino acid dietary supplements and fats burners—the shadow of beauty surgical procedure refuses to fade away. The media nonetheless can’t get sufficient of the superhero abs (“What’s the story behind Khan’s six-pack abs?”). Bollywood-watchers are busy guessing the message his photos would possibly ship (“In spite of everything, he spent twenty years proclaiming he was an actor, not a bodybuilder”). And followers are in a frenzy: “If SRK undergoes cosmetic surgery, how would you react?” asks a fan weblog. “What has taken individuals abruptly is the unexpectedness of it,” says Jamal Shaikh, editor of Males’s Well being. “Stars with stomachs of metal have been round for years. However when the main actor out of the blue shifts from an athletic to a super-sculpted take a look at the age of 42, many an eyebrow is raised.”

Medical doctors will not be stunned. “There’s a perceptible change within the male angle in the direction of reinventing their physique picture via beauty surgical procedure. And it’s a made-to-order macho picture,” says Dr Ramesh Kumar Sharma, who heads the division of cosmetic surgery, Publish Graduate Institute of Medical Schooling and Analysis (PGIMER), Chandigarh. On the institute, a decade again, sufferers have been largely girls.

However the variety of male purchasers has quickly gone up within the final three to 4 years. “They now kind one-fourth of the clientele,” says Sharma. Dr Narendra Pandya, guide at Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai and a pioneer in cosmetic surgery in India, agrees: “I see no less than 3 times extra male beauty surgical procedure sufferers than I did 5 years in the past. Males have develop into extra demanding and aggressive. They consider they should look presentable to make the lower.” Dr S.S. Saha of Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, which will get about 40 such sufferers per 30 days, notices the identical development. “Three years again, 90 per cent of our sufferers have been girls,” he says, “At the moment, 40 per cent are males.” On the Sagar Apollo Hospital in Bangalore, the ratio of males to girls has elevated in favour of the previous. Dr M.S. Venkatesh, head of cosmetic surgery, says, “Males are taking up girls in a variety of procedures.” Dr Jyotsna Murthy of Ramachandra Hospital in Porur, Chennai, meets software program professionals, engineers, businessmen, sports activities individuals, movie personalities and media professionals. And so they all have the identical, insatiable want to look good. “They belong to center and excessive earnings teams, socialise on a regular basis and the second they acquire weight, their confidence stage dips. They may do no matter it takes to get again in form.” Lately, Murthy carried out a pectoral implant for a 28-year-old upcoming Tamil actor, growing his chest dimension and form by inserting implants made from stable silicone below the muscle.

Indian males appear to be on the verge of a seismic shift. And they’re keen to spend any quantity in pursuit of their private look. Try the numbers: over 70 per cent of India’s city males go to a salon no less than as soon as a month for hairstyling, facials and skin-lifting therapy, says an AC Nielsen survey on 1,000 males in 4 metros, revealed final month. Three in 5 single males declare they attempt to look fashionable always. An ASSOCHAM survey on 5,000 shoppers in August revealed that males’s spending on grooming is up by as a lot as 20 per cent in additional than half of Indian households, because of the cash spent on cosmetics, attire and mo- bile cellphone payments. This doesn’t shock Sahil Shroff, 28, a Mumbai-based mannequin who runs his personal clothes retailer. “There’s a brand new premium on the physique now,” he says. A health freak, he’s now concentrating on creating his abs. “I’m in good condition and I’m happy with it. Abs make all the things in modelling,” he says.

In films, heartthrobs—Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham—are seen shirtless, with rippling pecs and lats; on style runways, male fashions in skin-tight tanks and jackets, unbuttoned to flaunt washboard bellies, tempo earlier than cheering crowds. “The male physique is being provided up for scrutiny,” provides Kakar. And males are afraid of shedding their hair, their muscle mass, their youth. Beauty surgeons, too, really feel there’s a better tendency to indicate off muscle tissue amongst males today. When Amit Sandhu, 25, moved to Delhi from Panipat, Haryana, “to develop into a mannequin”, he confronted a troublesome time. From “wholesome”, he turned “cumbersome”. “All of the sudden I used to be not happy with my physique.” The spectrum of latest beauty procedures accessible to males displays the development. If the sooner beauty procedures sported useful names and supplied helpful providers, new strategies at the moment are modelled on male anxieties and have fancy feel-good names. “Muscle sculpting” and “physique contouring” are the buzzwords now. Go for “belly etching”, if you’d like a washboard-flat abdomen. “Fats switch” will increase varied elements of your physique—buttocks, biceps, calf muscle tissue, palms—by surgically rounding them out with your individual fats. A “facial rejuvenation” will construct quantity, filling, lifting, repositioning, and decreasing inelastic facial tissue. With “physique contouring”, you’ll be able to take away undesirable skinfolds surgically. “The male physique picture goes past a mere removing extra fats,” factors out Murthy. She is more and more dealing with extra calls for for such remedies, which embody nostril correction, breast discount, hair restoration, eyelid correction, facelift and facial rejuvenation.

Contemplate Jugal Bansal, 60. He was working for a public sector unit in 2001 when his spouse observed a crease between his eyes that made him look “offended”. He acquired even along with his wrinkles—he went to a plastic surgeon to get the primary of six Botox injections. “I felt extra assured after I had it achieved,” says Bansal, who’s now retired and about to have a facelift. “If there’s a pleasant strategy to treatment the consequences of ageing, then I say, ‘Why not’?”

Life is trying good another time for Sriram Iyer of Chennai. Early this 12 months, the 31-year-old software program skilled needed to journey to Chicago to make a technical presentation to an American consumer. With a Masters in Pc Science from the College of Southern California, Los Angeles, Iyer wasn’t frightened about impressing the consumer along with his technical prowess. However he was significantly involved about his increasing waistline, gaunt face and the darkish rings below his eyes. 4 weeks earlier than the journey, he determined to take issues in hand. “I used to be a bit apprehensive initially,” reveals Iyer, who underwent an abdominoplasty (to take care of localised, exercise-resistant fats deposits, loosened and extreme muscle tissue) and a fats switch (to appropriate the nasojugal groove below the decrease eyelids). “However I used to be positive I wished to look good.” Changing into 70 kg on a six-foot body, Iyer is now flaunting a wonderfully ironedout face and abdomen. “I really like carrying T-shirts, however my girth used to make me really feel terribly self-conscious,” he remem- bers. He’s as soon as once more including to his assortment of Tees and is now on the lookout for a life companion.

In a fast-evolving world of demand and provide, statistics are uncommon. However Dr Sunil Choudhury, who heads the division of plastic & reconstructive surgical procedure at Max Healthcare, Delhi, is painstakingly build up the affected person profile. Sharing with INDIA TODAY the first-of-its-kind research on aesthetic cosmetic surgery traits, he says, “Delhi being a melting pot, the outcomes of our research on 600 sufferers between 2004 and 2007 could be thought of a real reflection of the Indian situation.” Try the info: in 2004, there have been 25 per cent male vis-à-vis 75 per cent feminine sufferers. Male footfall in the present day is 30 per cent, whereas feminine tempo has slackened to 70. The surge in demand was fuelled largely by the age group of 25-45 years. “That is when one is most energetic and look issues loads,” he says. About 84 per cent males are from city areas and 88 per cent single (versus 43 per cent of single girls); 70 per cent are socially and financially impartial (cosmetic surgery textbooks use the acronym SIMON for Single, Immature, Male, Overly-expectant, Narcissistic males). “If one have been to consider the tabloids, cosmetic surgery would look like a luxurious indulged in primarily by the elite,” men- tions Choudhury. “In actuality, 67 per cent of our sufferers come from the center class. Consciousness of look, clearly, is aware of no class boundaries. The center class is clearly driving the growth.”

And it’s not simply the metro male. Younger males are making a beeline for plastic surgeons in small cities too. Ahmedabad hardly had eight beauty surgeons until the mid-Nineteen Nineties. At the moment the quantity has crossed 50. So what’s sending the Ahmedabad male to plastic surgeons? “Typically it’s the girlfriend who tells the person to get an pimples mark eliminated or to straighten out his nostril,” says plastic surgeon Dr Hemant Saraiya. “Earlier males would strive yoga to look higher. At the moment they don’t hesitate to go for surgical procedure and are additionally fairly clued-up about it,” observes one other surgeon, Dr Shrikant Lagwankar. Earlier this 12 months, Saraiya operated on Dilip Rana for flattening his stomach. Rana had a profitable job supply within the pipeline, the place he wanted to reveal his torso. “Initially I felt I’d lose the supply due to my stomach bulge,” he says. “Lastly a pal suggested me to go in for an abdominoplasty.”

What do males need? Not like their feminine counterparts, the male purchasers are extra clear in regards to the new picture they need, say medics. Enlarged breasts (gynecomastia) is an enormous problem for Indian males, and throughout all age teams. In PGIMER, 50 per cent male sufferers come for this. One other set of youthful males want ‘physique contouring’ surgical procedure for free skinfolds, left because of extreme gymming or weight-reduction plan. Practically 60 per cent of males between age 35 and 45 ask for this at Gangaram. Others go for liposuction to eliminate extra and cussed fats in decrease stomach. Males additionally going for tightening of belly muscle tissue for a stronger tummy. Making the chin extra outstanding and, thus, giving the face a extra chiselled look is one more demand for the 35-plus brigade. Eradicating frown traces, wrinkles across the eyes and lifting a sagging face are age-related issues, with sufferers within the 45-plus age bracket. “Most males need to get a sharper look,” says Kolkata-based aesthetic surgeon Dr Manoj Khanna. And they’re able to go in for minor procedures to take away the slightest of defects. “They might need todoawaywithamarkoramole even when these don’t look irregular.” Says Venkatesh: “Eyelid surgical procedure and facial rejuvenation are the opposite procedures generally requested for by younger males, professionals, college students and aspiring fashions.”

Even conventional exercises have modified to fulfill the brand new demand. “India’s strongest man” Manoj Chopra trains at Steves Health club in Bangalore, one of many metropolis’s premier health centres based by Stephen S.D. Earlier, most males would do the common treadmill-trainer-cycle routine. At the moment, there are extra males getting into for muscle sculpting train routines than these on the machines. Most of them need to make the most of the a number of scientific strategies accessible for shaping up the physique.

However self-image is only a starter. “There’s no finish to the compulsions that make males search a beauty process,” says Dr Milind Wagh, guide plastic aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon with the Hiranandani and Bhatia hospitals in Mumbai. “From job interviews to marriage, strain from friends and the other intercourse to the need to observe the methods of a much-admired Bollywood hero.” Choudhury agrees: “The perfect candidates are those that want to merely enhance their look. They’re normally glad after a surgical procedure and their shallowness and confidence ranges visibly shoot up. Then there are those that come from the world of showbiz, the place look counts for all. There may be one other class: of males who blame their current bodily look for all private misfortunes. Males in sad relationships additionally use surgical procedure to avoid wasting their failing ties. About 3-5 per cent males endure from minimal deformity however have disproportionate issues about the way in which they give the impression of being.

Everyone seems to be into on the spot abs and the SRK look. However physique obsession doesn’t actually pay. It’s properly documented that for ladies, it typically results in excessive weight-reduction plan and train. How widespread are consuming problems amongst males? Exhausting to say. Males are notoriously hesitant to hunt psychological therapy, significantly for body-image problems. “Younger males with poor physique picture and excessive drive for muscularity typically carry the burden of low shallowness, nervousness, and despair,” warns Saha. As well as, they might be extra susceptible to abusing anabolic steroids, the well being penalties of which vary from coronary coronary heart illness threat, to kidney and liver injury, liver most cancers, hypertension, diminished immune system functioning to even infertility.

The urge for ‘The Physique’, nonetheless, is compelling sufficient for males to cough up whopping sums in pursuit of their private look. With know-how reaching new ranges of sophistication, a third-generation ultrasonic liposuction machine could go away the affected person with a invoice of Rs 1.2 lakh. However the spiralling prices are balanced out by state-of-the-art know-how and quick access. “The arrival of finer suture supplies, refinement in surgical methods, the provision of fine high quality cosmetic surgery implants and simplification of surgical methods have made a distinction within the surgical outcomes,” says Venkatesh. Furthermore, most beauty physique procedures in the present day are achieved as day care procedures. “A lunch time nostril job and a tea time liposuction and physique contouring are the makeover procedures of the current day,” he says.

In a method, males have arrived late to the social gathering. Magnificence ceased to be a fantasy for ladies ever since thousands and thousands sat glued to tv units to observe the crowning of Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai in world magnificence pageants within the ’90s. “Up till the ’70s, magnificence contests was peripheral affairs, solely lined by specialised girls’s magazines,” wrote Madhu Kishwar, the editor of Manushi, in her 1995 essay, When India Missed The Universe. At the moment, Miss India clones— slender waist, lengthy legs, slender hips, shiny hair, rosebud mouth, spaghetti straps—are in all places. In shiny advertisements, on sidewalks, in magnificence parlours, outdoors multiplexes, in males’s needs and their very own desires.

Having a male physique is very like having a checking account, wrote novelist John Updike. So long as it’s wholesome, you don’t assume a lot about it. Clearly, Updike by no means met Shah Rukh Khan. Nor would he recognise this explicit second within the biography of masculinity the place trying good could be counter-intuitive. At the moment’s buff-and- prepared man stands squarely on the intersection of magnificence, self-importance and well being. However in forging new requirements for himself, he has opened up a Pandora’s field: will unrealistic photos result in better physique picture dissatisfaction, psychological well being points, and threats to wholesome bodily functioning? Will males keep in mind to benefit from the physique they’ve of their drive for the proper abs? The jury remains to be out on that however for now, SRK reigns—completely.

– With Kimi Dangor, Akhila Kirshnamurthy, Nandini Vaish, Swagata Sen, Ramesh Vinayak, Uday Mahurkar and Stephen David

(The article was revealed within the INDIA TODAY version dated October 15, 2007)

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