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The groovy side of Gulshan Grover.

There’s something almost sinister about Gulshan Grover, the way he hides his hooded eyes behind dark glasses. Granted, they play an important part in maintaining his ‘bad man of Bollywood’ image but, it turns out, his signature look also has a practical purpose—to hide his tiredness, say, after a long flight. Indeed, there is more to this 60 year old man’s appearance than meets the eye. As he explains, his body is his temple, he eats to live, and fearlessly embraces age with a vengeance to shatter the pot-bellied stereotype of ageing men—a trend he hopes will catch on among India’s new-age silvers.

How has ageing affected your sense of style?
My sense of fashion and style is a combination of what’s current, what looks good on me and what feels comfortable. I want to break the old stereotypes of being 50. When men cross 50, it is expected that they grow a paunch and dress down with old-fashioned clothes and sober colours. I hate that attitude. I like to go against this cliché not just with my choice of clothing, but with physical fitness.

You are unafraid to show off a little facial hair….
To be trendy has nothing to do with age. For me it’s a state of mind and a continuous feeling. If the thick moustache is fashionable, I would definitely like to have it. I don’t follow that tradition of combing back oiled hair and taking a side-parting and I will never accept that.

At the same time, my style is not over the top. A lot of the time it has a lot to do with the character I am playing. Right now I am shooting for my new film Badman, in which I play a hero, so there’s lots of different facial hair going on.

What is your daily skincare routine?
Ahead of skincare is physical fitness. You need to dedicate an hour or so every day to your body. If not, you are doing injustice to your very being. It even reduces your financial burden with healthcare. Once you get into that routine, skincare and other practices follow naturally.

I don’t take extra care of my skin. But I am very careful with what I eat; I eat food only for its nutritional value. And I work out every day, no matter where I am. In locations where I can’t step out, I run from wall to wall in my room. Any form of exercise will do, but be sure to do it.

Where do you buy your clothes from? What are some of the criteria when picking your clothes?
I buy most of my clothes from LA because fashion for film stars is big there, I would say even more than Milan or Paris, which are influenced by the European runway. Between the Beverly Centre Mall, Rodeo Drive and Melrose Street in LA, I get most of my clothes. But there are times when I just wear a simple kurta. It’s not designer. It’s not expensive. But it’s cut correctly and the fit is good. It’s not necessary that you must only wear an Armani suit.

But all of us who are well to do and have wonderful things—clothes, shoes, belts—we end up hoarding all of it. Then we’re no different than the bania in the film Mother India. The haves who are hoarding are the bigger sinners. My philosophy is, if there is something I haven’t used in six months, it must go to a younger person who will appreciate it. It can be a Versace suit! I have deputed my sister to identify these young people, and they are not necessarily relatives.

Tell us about your fondness for sunglasses.
[Laughs] I have hundreds of them. Playing the baddy for so many years, the dark glasses have their role when taking pictures with friends and fans. There’s another reason. After long hours on the flight, to Srinagar or London, your skin is tired. But everybody surrounds you for a photograph. The glasses hide the fatigue.

What are your favourite brands?
I don’t go for brands for the sake of brands. But after all these years, I know what certain brands are good for. For example, I would go for Hugo Boss and Armani suits, but their jeans don’t work for me. I get all my jeans from Australia. Melrose Street in LA has the most exotic shoe stores. So my boots generally come from there.

What is your fashion advice to silver men?
First, break away from the stereotype. Earlier the babuji was a traditional, overweight man. Now we like to see Amitabh Bachchan as the father. He’s fit and stylish, with his goatee. The cliché must vanish from our thinking. Your being fit will work very well for you. It will even delay ailments. And watch what you eat. Don’t just eat for taste. Well, maybe dessert occasionally! Otherwise, eat according to the food’s nutritional value.

When it comes to fashion, if something is trendy but you are not comfortable in it, don’t wear it. Your clothes have to magnify your persona. Give away what you don’t use to an aspiring youngster. It will change that person’s life. And, finally, make life more interesting for yourself. It has been found that the mind is stimulated and remains active when silvers start exploring social media and new technologies.

—Natasha Rego

Photo: Ash Gupta
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
June 2016