GQ has come to India.
The one man who must be seriously thrilled by this is the actor Jeetendra, also known as Bollywood’s Jumping Jack, because 41 years after he teamed a white T shirt with white trousers and white shoes together, it’s still being worn, that too by cool cats like Bollywood darlings Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Rampal and on the cover of an international magazine. The white ensemble, which verged on being skin tight, became Jeetendra’s uniform over the 1970s. An Elvis-esque pouf completed the look. It (inexplicably) earned him some fans and a lot of spoofs (most recently in Om Shanti Om). But all those who made fun of the monochromatic tight-whiteness of the Jeetendra look must now eat their hats (unless of course they’re white; then they’re to be worn with panache) because if GQ says white is the colour then white must be the colour.
There’s been so much buzz about GQ. To begin with, the editor was fired because, rumour has it, he wasn’t ready to toe the head of Condé Nast Alex Kuruvilla’s line. After a couple of months of headlessness, the deputy editor was bumped up to become editor. This might have been a sterling decision because this young man is clearly well-suited for the job – he’s possibly the first editor to have grown hair, instead of losing the stuff, in the process of launching a magazine. Then the whispering began about the grand launch of GQ in India. The invited folk were told to confirm if they would attend the party and only after they confirmed were they sent a proper invitation. This is unheard of in a country where the whole point of a launch party is to arrive with a posse/ family of 10 people and make the most of free food and drink. The newly-inaugurated Four Seasons was totally booked up for the out of town guests. Media persons were not invited, which must have meant that the Press Club, or wherever it is the press hang out, would have been rife with malicious gossip about GQ on Saturday night when shiny, dressed up celebrities trooped into the Four Seasons. Socialites thronged the event, which was held in three or four separate spaces across the Four Seasons, and so presence in the party pages across the nation was assured.
For once, I don’t give a damn about the socialites. I’m much more devastated by the fact that GQ, the metrosexual man’s best friend, couldn’t find anyone other than Jeetendra to salute in its first Indian cover. Does the editorial team understand the enormity of what they’ve done? They’re telling the Indian male – a creature with pitiful style sense to begin with – that it’s ok to look like a man whose attempt at elegance involved putting tight and white together in a full-body outfit; and whose idea of stylish courtship was crooning a song to the lady love while lunging at a badminton shuttlecock.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the only ogle-worthy man in the magazine of Indian origin is – hold yer breath – Arjun Rampal, who in the past has exhibited the intelligence and expressiveness of a plank of plywood. Imagine how insipidly photographed or essentially unattractive (or both) the featured men have to be for Rampal to seem attractive to a cerebral bird like myself. I mean, I think George Clooney is lovely but if I had to choose between him and Orhan Pamuk, I’d pounce on the latter. Tragically, no one is asking me to make that choice. I would have said Salman Rushdie instead of Pamuk, but having seen him nuzzle Scarlett Johansson’s neck as though he’s an ostrich looking for a place to hide, I’ll go with the Turk. This is really quite sad because Rushdie is not just one of the wittiest speakers we have, he’s also one of the most charming, despite being portly and balding.
While glancing through international covers of GQ that have had the likes of Brad Pitt and Woody Allen on them, I found myself wondering whether Saif Ali Khan and gang really are the best looking men the country has to offer us women. After all, men’s magazines aren’t just for men just as Fair and Lovely fairness cream isn’t just for women (before Hindustan Lever launched Fair and Handsome for men, they claimed 29% of Far and Lovely’s buyers were men). I tried to think of better looking men and came up with a few options, but better looking men with some intelligence illuminating their pretty faces? Blank. Our current celebrity hottie is Akshay Kumar who has made a career out of playing characters who are all brawn and no brain. He is also the Levi’s brand ambassador which means, from time to time, I find banners on websites inviting me to “unbutton with Akshay at http://www.501.com”. It’s a little unsettling, particularly when you realise it takes the concerted efforts of an entire ecosystem of trainers and nutricians to ensure he looks as he does. How about attractive men who aren’t models or actors? Blanker. GQ attempted to make a pin-up boy out of Aditya Mittal, son of Lakshmi Mittal, but to no avail. Never mind well-known names; perhaps there’s a regular pounce-worthy, stylish male individual from my circle of acquaintances who isn’t gay? Blankest. A slideshow of my single girl friends unfurled in my head. One of them has a theory that Indian men were able to secure the worst genetic cocktail to balance out the joys of patriarchy – of all the DNA that we could have spliced together, we picked the short, squat, hairy, bulbous nose, weak chin genes. Indian men’s answer to this is growing a moustache, which in most cases really doesn’t help much. Faced with the severe shortage of good looking Indian men, we can only hope that GQ will be ridiculously good reading because expecting eye candy is clearly out of the question.
Having glanced through the articles in GQ’s launch issue, a quick shimmy over to the international GQ website, where you can flip through The 50 Most Stylish Men, is more satisfying in my opinion. Let’s just say, if it takes a man to get your hormones going, then your hormones will thank you for that click.