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It started out when Anil Kapoor took off his shirt while doing Jaanbaaz. However, his chest is so hairy, that while doing Jaanbaaz together, Dimple Kapadia laughed, describing A.K. as a "barber's nightmare." Perhaps Anil was only trying to compete, then, with his peer, Jackie Shroff who could carry off bold peekaboo poses.

Come to think of it,Jackie once threw caution and clothes to the wind to flash his bare body before the still camera with only a cap to cover... errr... the most strategic points. Indeed, Sylvester Stallone had once joked that he wouldn't mind posing for centrespreads as long as the magazine's staple binding was placed at the right place. So what has really happened to the bollywood film industry? Why suddenly all the bollywood actors want to take off their shirt and show off? Lets look back at the history amd how the other stars fared in the early era.

In fact, Indian cinema's topless titillators have been the talk of tinsel town for several decades. When some like Dara Singh and Dharmendra ripped off their shirts for the still or movie camera, they were instantly branded he-men. When others like Anil Kapoor and Chunky Panday tried the same act, they were labelled hee-hee-men by the sniggering bystanders.

Dharmendra bared his upper-half for OP Ralhan's Phool Aur Patthar in 1966. The story of the streetwise Shaka, who brings home a distressed woman (Meena Kumari), and is reformed by her love, hinged on the 'revealing' sequence. A drunk-to-the-gills shaka stumbles onto the room where the petrified woman pretends to be asleep. A sharp gasp pierced cinema halls all over the country when Dharmendra tore off his shirt and advanced menacingly towards the inert feminine figure on the bed. At that precise moment, the celluloid beefcake was born.

Before Phool Aur Patthar, heroes had bared their chests mainly in stunt films (examples:Fearless Nadia's hero John Cawas and Dara Singh with Mumtaz entwined around his biceps). After that, overt manifestations of machismo were in. And without a doubt, Mithun Chakraborty went on to become the most bare-chested hero after Dharmendra.


Other leading men of the '70s and '80s like Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan hardly had the physique to carry off the chhaati-ka-naam-goodie image. But Khanna did exhibit his hirsute splendour in Prem Nagar and Amar Deep, almost as a desperate measure to cling to his fast-fading glory.


Our movies have witnessed a transition from 'Hero' and 'Anti-Hero' to now 'Aunty' Hero (Chachi 420, Aunty No.1). By contrast, our macho men don't see much humor in nudity. Pumping iron then posing shirtless is considered serious business in Mumbai's showworld. Time and again, aspiring actors have considered a nude-interlude in their careers as a stepping stone to stardom. But look what happened to Mahesh Anand, Avinash Wadhawan, Prithvi and the like. Where are they today? Male stars often button up their shirts once they become successful. For instance, Sunil Shetty refuses to strip in his movies. By some strange logic,it is ok to take off a shirt for photo-features. But on screen, it's no go. In the publicity stills of Vinashak, he even gives the impression that he's trying to hide behind his co-star Raveena Tandon.


For Rangeela, Jackie Shroff, who usually displayed his body beautiful at regular intervals, removed his shirt only for one or two shots. "I no longer have the body for it," Jackie explained shyly. Yeah sure. Koi baat nahin. It happens to most of them, including Mithun Chakraborty. He was branded the Badshah of Bronzed Brawn from his very first screen appearance as the silent and haunted tribal in Mrinal Sen's Mrigayaa. Explained Mithun, "Everyone wanted me to walk around bare-chested before the camera. That phase lasted for quite a few years till Boxer proved that physique doesn't always sell."

Yet actors have often taken great pains to build their muscle-bank for roles that require them to strut their stuff. Naseeruddin Shah worked hard to achieve the lean and macho look for Paar and Jalwa. He said that he lifted weights for the extensive chest-exhibition in Jalwa. Whether he meant co-star Archana Puran Singh is not known. Most top actors seem to be inhibited about taking off their shirts for the movie camera. Yeah sure, the Bachchan did display his hair-apparent in Deewaar, but never again. Apparently, Sunny Deol does it only when the script demands it, and he can carry off the muscle show, too. Examples: Yateem, Kshatriya and Ghatak. Evidently, Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan are proud of their bodies and don't mind going shirtless. The Bruno of male Brawn, Feroz Khan(remember his topless kushti with Rekha in Kashmakash?), made a shirtless Sanjay Dutt sing an entire song in the rain for Yalgaar. The film's failure proved Mithun's contention: brawn is no guarantee for box office success.

So now in the 90's, we have lots of wannabees who want to have a body that a Salman, a Sunil or an Akshay has. Let's look at some of the stars and the things they do to trim their physique.


Sanjay Dutt's muscle-brother, Salman Khan, is the Shahenshah of the Shirtless Kingdom. From the first photo-session for Maine Pyar Kiya where the demurely clad Bhagyashree was snapped with the bare-torsoed Salman, this Khan hasn't hesitated in showing the audiences what he has got.

If Salman is synonymous with body display, he does it with an elan that is disarming and totally inoffensive. There's no question of this Khan going overboard even if audiences become over-bored. Body display is a form of self-expression for Salman, as it is for Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Shetty. When asked about his recent "bare it all" "Walking around bare-chested is not new for me. Even in my house I never wear a shirt. You will always find me in just shorts. If I am driving or walking down the road and if I feel hot, I just take off my shirt and carry on. Tomorrow, even if I become fat and stout, sporting a paunch, I will walk around without a shirt. I don't care what people say. "
Salman's Routine

Salman is up and ready at 9 am sharp unless a producer requires him to be at shooting earlier. He starts out his day with a light breakfast. A piece of toast, orange juice and maybe some nuts for the road. He then eats a moderately light lunch(usually small amount of meat). You see now Salman watches what he eats..."No Junk Food" according to him. His day ends with a drive home and a stop at the pool if he feels like it. He works out every evening at his home gym for couple of hours. During the shoot of Karan-Arjun, he even hired a personal trainer to shape him up for the flick...




To start of by being a little nasty, let's just say he's been known more for his Tandons than the tendons he ruins while climbing the side of the building he lives in. But, however much one may deprecate his acting, Raju aka Rajeev Bhatia aka Akshay Kumar aka Akki, is one fit dude.

Besides the craze for rope climbing, and the complicated stunts he exhibits in his movies, Akki is also a member of the British Hang Gliding Club.

Of course, it is the movies in which we see him. The sheer animal power he exhibits as he gyrates and twirls tirelessly through those numbers, and fighting with the economy of movement of an expert. That, and the remarkable innocence about him, is what makes Akshay attractive and charming respectively.

But when we sought the secret of his success of him, Akshay rejected the notion that muscles are a hot thing to have.

"I don't need muscles. What I need always is sheer discipline. I can do anything without that. I do keep my body in shape but then I have other ways of doing it." And the first thing he is careful about is food.

Akshay's routine
His day starts off at 4 am with two glasses of hot water. He then jogs through the back streets when "there is not a single soul out there, not even a dog to bark at me."
He returns and exercises. And after that? He sleeps.
If there's work at about 9 am, he arises afresh at 8 am, completes his morning rituals and breakfast and rushes off to work. After work, he polishes off a special dinner cooked by his mother, returns home and promptly goes to bed. To be back up at 4 am the next day.

"See, I totally avoid junk food. In fact, I do not like to eat out at all. Even If I go for a party, I avoid eating. Another reason... is my mother's recipes." That sounds like it is unappetising enough to keep him thin, till he hastens to add, "She is a wonderful cook and makes that keeps me fit. I go for typical Punjabi food, which keeps me going like a body builder from Punjab," he says, smiling.

"Whenever I go outdoors for my shoots I make sure I live only on fruits and juices. Even if I go to a foreign country, there's no food for me except fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice. I only eat at home," he tells you.

And there's no strenuous exercises for him. No, pumping of iron, no grunt work. Though he likes jogging and rappelling.

"See this rope... We have it so that I can work out on Sundays. Apart from this, I also go out trekking. But then climbing ropes is fun. All the guys in my building and I do it together and see who gets to the top faster."

Then, of course, he cycles, there are things like martial arts, cycling, jogging, the skateboard, and natural exercises like trekking. I don't want to build my muscles and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, though I do like to exercise," he smiles.

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Akshay has his own special exercises, ones he wouldn't like to divulge for the simple reason that they shouldn't be tried without an instructor. "Like I said, cycling, jogging... Even walking fast is an exercise that helps you stay fighting fit."

He may like being strong but Akki's no street fighter.

"I don't get into roadside brawls... True, martial arts are for self defence, but I haven't had to use it for self-defence."

As a child, he dreamt of becoming a martial arts teacher. But he actually signed up because he used to miss his best friend who also used to undergo training.

"Soon it became a passion. The discipline it teaches you, the intensity it develops in you is unmatchable. Nothing can inculcate so much determination and self-confidence in yourself as martial arts can."

But all his fitness didn't help him when, in a scene in Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, he lifted a 350 pound WWF wrestler called Undertaker. The third take nearly broke his back.

"The pain was excruciating. I lifted him, and the very next moment I knew I was gone. Down and out. I have not lifted weights like this. I did it on sheer impulse. But it has been making me shuttle from here to the States. The pain is unbearable," he says.

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Now, Akki admits that has affected his weight. "You know my weight today is 86 kilos. I haven't been able to exercise and that has pulled me back. When I was young, I was very thin and used to weigh not more than 50-odd kilos. But now my bones have also become pretty heavy," he smiles.

But such sturdiness was to be expected. His father was a wrestler at one time and grandpa too used to grapple a bit.

According to Akshay, a good physique is a must for any leading actor.

"Every hero needs to look perfect. He need not be an action man, he may well be the eternal romantic. But he needs some muscles that makes him look better that the rest of the men.

"If I look like Johnny Walker, how can you expect me to beat up a hundred villains? If I am lifting the Undertaker, people may believe I did the scene because I have that physical frame for it. If I break some iron bars, people may believe it. But if another hero, with a much weaker frame, does that, the people will dismiss it. They will no longer take trash from film-makers," says Akshay, saying he has one particularly exotic way of keeping fit.

"I go to Juhu beach, go (by boat) 10 kms into the sea and then start surfing. It is a place where there will be no one to disturb me. Then, if I want to swim, I always go to a five star hotel pool, and rush back before anyone can actually see and recognise me."


Sanjay Dutt has done it all and shown it all. He bared everything in the movie Yalgaar. Since his debut, he has taken off his shirt more than Salman ever will(remember Khalnayak?).

Sanjay's Routine
Sanjay Dutt is the kind of person who would rather work out than watch a movie. According to him, "..i want to stay fit, mentally and physically so i work out and trim my body." His routine day includes a trip to the jail(just kidding)..he wakes up at 9 since he claims "i can't work out early mornings." After absorbing eggs, toast and couple glasses of grapefruit juice, he heads to his shootings. While in the evening, he stops by the gym and works out from 6-8pm usually. His exercise schedule is never the same since he is very busy with his new marriage. However he does take out some time for his workout every day.


How can a so-called non-actor pull off such incredible performonces in Border and Bhai? Secret: Sunil Shetty can't resist a good challenge. He's matured over the years and has such confidence now. The aforementioned films have provided the ultimate seal of approval that he can actually act. And so he is revelling in this hard-earned, much improved second act. Today, there's nothing you could dare him to do that he wouldn't try. Get set to watch a new, rejuvenated Sunil Shetty. After his success, Sunil has started to stop exposing his body in films and according to him "showing my body won't make the movie a hit." What do you say girls?

Sunil's Routine
Sunil Shetty takes along a van filled with gym equipment to whichever far flung corner of India he's shooting in. So that means that he works out at the set? Well Mr. Shetty claims, "when the director is busy planning the next scene, i just lift some weights to keep me busy." He also has a home gym equiped with expensive body toning exercise machines(from america). His average day ends at 8pm so he doens't get any time to work out however only on the weekends(if he is not wanted by any reporter etc).


Sunny's Routine
Sunny Deol does have a great body and if you want to check it out, watch Kshatriya. He started working out when he went on a routine trip to London during the making of Arjun. He claims "..i saw british and american actors with nice toned body and I thought to myself, if I want to be successful as a action hero, I need to work out." SO yes folks since then, he has been shaping up his body and it has paid off since he is the highest paid male actor in bollywood(nope shahrukh isnt). He wakes up at 7:30 am sharp and jogs a mile or so. He doesnt lift any weights in the mornings but only during the evening hours before dinner. According to his secretary, "he is a big eater and if hungry can eat a cow." He is a true Punjabi Jatt.

At last, Off and on, stars have gone overboard while getting physical with the camera. There was the notorious case of Aditya Panscholi, who not only took off his shirt but also his trousers and accessories, for a photo-session! In such cases, the desperation to get noticed outweighs the rapport with the camera. Perhaps the trick of mastering the art of beefcake-ery is to achieve a state of nonchalance (and not narcissism) while posing topless for the camera. Salman Khan is one Hindi film star who has achieved that state of nirvanic nudity.
  • Compiled by Jimmy Mehra
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