The Turban Man’s turbocharged career
For several years now, Jaspreet Singh Jassi has been the go-to man for Bollywood whenever a film has needed a Sikh character. Now 28, Jassi is the industry’s first ever turban stylist.
What he does now started informally in his college days, when fellow students sought Jassi’s help. He always nursed a Bollywood dream. “When I was young,” says Jassi, “every time I’d watch a Bollywood actor play a Sikh character, I’d think, ‘Kash mujhe ye opportunity mile, so that I can help them tie a good turban.’”
And then he got his first break in 2008, in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, starring Shah Rukh Khan, when the filmmakers wanted a turban stylist. The bigger deal was the 2011 film Patiala House, starring Akshay Kumar as a ‘cut-surd’, slang for a Sardar who has cut his hair (against the tenets of the religion), and Rishi Kapoor as his turbaned Sikh father.
Patiala House director Nikhil Advani wanted to avoid the backlash faced by the 2008 release Singh is Kinng over the way Akshay’s character wore the Sikh turban in that film. So, Advani hired a turban stylist for Rishi — and that stylist was Jassi.
About how the Sikh turban is shown in films, Jassi says, “There’s a lack of knowledge in Bollywood. If you’re going to show someone wearing a turban in a movie, it has to be done in a respectful manner. And this is where I come in.”
Clockwise from above: Jaspreet Singh Jassi with Shah Rukh Khan; Ranbir Kapoor in Rocket Singh, styled by Jassi; he also styled Kay Kay Menon, who played a Sikh in the war film The Ghazi Attack
Jassi with Boman Irani, one of his favourite actors