Actors can go to any length to perfect their act. Be it jumping from cliffs to shedding weight to adding weight, they do it all and much more. Nothing stops them from going the extra mile to bring alive their character. For October debutant, Banita Sandhu, it was the same. She had to chop down her locks for her character Shiuli.
A video shared by the makers of the film shows the emotional moment when Sandhu’s luscious locks were chopped by director Shoojit Sircar. Present in the room was also her co-star Varun Dhawan, who cheered her on. Varun even says on camera how doing it for your first film is a big sacrifice and requires great commitment.
At the beginning of the video we are shown shots of Sandhu lovingly combing her long hair in the film. Later we are taken to the night when she had to cut it off. The crew cheered her on as she remained teary eyed. She then sportingly moves on to say that her hair will be put on auction online. We are further taken along her journey of going close to bald for the role with cropped hair.
Hours before cutting my hair, Shoojit Sir told me I would be fearless for it. A few days after it was done, Juhi asked me if I felt freer. I replied, no. I didn’t feel anything. I was still hiding behind Shiuli. Then, when the film had wrapped and I returned to London I almost instinctively and religiously wore wigs so I wouldn’t feel exposed. However, after prolonged use, the wigs got uncomfortable, the hats got sweaty and itchy and so, one day, I was forced to wear my hair, whatever little had grown back, in public. Slowly, I began to realise how much I used to hide behind my hair and that I was using wigs and hats to compensate for it. Seeing myself, without any of these distractions, I began to appreciate Banita - with or without hair. I no longer cared about what other people thought of me as I realised my hair didn’t define me anymore, only I defined myself; that’s when I began to feel empowered and fearless. I know there’s a preconceived assumption (ironically, often shown in cinema) that as soon as you shave your hair, you’re immediately liberated but that didn’t happen with me and that’s okay. It took time, at least 3 months, to reach a fraction of that feeling and despite the insecurity and struggle that came with it, it was totally worth it. Beauty comes in all forms. Thank you, @shoojitsircar and @juhic3 for letting me be your Shiuli and making me fearless with it. 🙏🏽
Sandhu later shared the video on social media and penned a long post on the journey of giving up her hair for the role of Shiuli. She mentioned that her hair was a means of hiding herself but losing it bared her insecurities. It took her at least three months to get back her confidence and tell her self that her hair did not define her.
October opened to low box office collection but has ever since picked up.