One of the six participants who gets a makeover by celebrity hairstylist Adhuna Akhtar on TLC’s new show sent the stylists a video clip showing her long, dark hair tied up in a cumbersome bun. “She was so petite and with all that hair we could barely see her shoulders," comments Akhtar, who keeps the length but removes the volume. Post-snip it’s quite a transformation.

There are things you won’t notice when you look at yourself in the mirror, but a hair expert will.

B Blunt With Adhuna Akhtar is a classic makeover show, with the focus on hairstyling. Akhtar and her brother Osh Bhabani give six women a whole new image: hairdressing, make-up and styling included. At the end of the show, the participants meet a film celebrity. A Delhi-based woman is flown to Mumbai to meet Shah Rukh Khan, Farhan Akhtar walks out of his vanity van to meet one of the girls and Abhay Deol sneaks up on one of them like a birthday surprise.

B Blunt With Adhuna Akhtar: TLC’s latest offering, a classic makeover show, with the focus on hairstyling

Akhtar, who has been hairstyling for 18 years, is responsible for making Bollywood cooler in the hair department. Aamir Khan and Preity Zinta in Dil Chahta Hai were a refreshing change in the way youth and individuality are portrayed in Indian cinema. Lakshya, Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, Don and Rock On!!—Akhtar and her B Blunt Agency have slowly been dressing up hair. The team is currently working on the Reema Kagti film starring Aamir Khan and the Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra-directed film on Milkha Singh starring Farhan Akhtar.

A mother of two—girls aged 5 and 11—Akhtar claims to be a “hands-on mama". “My elder daughter has poker-straight long hair and the younger one has corkscrew curls. And predictably, the younger one wants the older one’s hair and the older one wants the younger one’s," laughs Akhtar. Do they go to Akhtar for hair advice? “Every woman I meet talks to me about hair. It’s an occupational hazard. But my daughters don’t. They have their own strong opinions," shrugs Akhtar.

In an interview with Mint, Akhtar talks about TLC’s makeover show and Indian women’s obsession with long hair. Edited excerpts:

Hair seems to have so much to do with body image and self-confidence. When you’re cutting hair, are you altering more than just length?

People come with certain notions of themselves that they’d like to portray. What I suggest may be something completely different from what they think is cool. They either buy it or they don’t. I’m also asked if it’s different to cut hair for celebrities from common people. I say celebrities are human too. They come with their own issues. But apart from just individual preferences, some things are cultural. Indian women are obsessed with long hair. We’ve been chipping away at it for the last 18 years. It’s still a work in progress. Long hair is beautiful but only if it’s conditioned and cut well. A lot of people tend to think that if they wear their hair very long, they don’t need to cut it, so the condition starts to suffer. B Blunt suggests a haircut every six-eight weeks. So yes, it takes educating and convincing to alter perceptions.

Adhuna Akhtar and her brother Osh Bhabani

Yes, because you wear your hair every day. You spend so much time and attention on clothes but your hair is a big part of your look. For the TLC show, we chose women from different walks of life, like a single mother or a young fire artiste. We picked people who we thought were the most deserving, had the most interesting stories and who we could help bring a change in their lives.

How did you research and decide upon each candidate?

We met the girls as you see it shot. It was a very live situation. Through Facebook and Internet, women sent us requests and we picked six. Because of our years of experience we were able to pull out the important insights and factors, making sure we ask the right questions to get the right information out. So in a way, it’s 18 years of experience that helped us be spontaneous on the show.

Tell us some hair truths.

Everyone is unique and individual. Your hair growth pattern is as unique as your fingerprint. One swing doesn’t work for each and every person. But few things that everyone can consider while getting a haircut is, firstly, make sure you have a nice relationship with your hairstylist. Secondly, what is your lifestyle? How much time can you spend on your hair every day? What is the natural texture of your hair? If you have naturally curly hair and you want it to look straight, and you only have 10 minutes every day, that’s not going to happen. The haircut is key. When you cut hair, you have to work with the hair’s natural flow. Also, there’s a strong connection between body proportion and hair length. The average Indian woman is about 5ft 2 inches and hair length has an impact on that.

Are makeovers about budgets? There’s a UK-based show that has two stylists giving a person a makeover, one with a more high-street budget and one with no budget.

I think it’s all relative, depending on how creative you are. You can do a lot with nothing and have more fun with that. Attitude is more than money.

B Blunt With Adhuna Akhtar will air every night at 10pm on TLC from 16 July.

komal.sharma@livemint.com

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