Kannada literature has produced eight Jnanpith award winners, whose identity is not confined to their literary works. Thanks to a local hairdresser in Basavanagudi, the writers and the Kannada language are being popularised as he offers his customers distinctive hairstyles named after the writers.
One can walk into V Harish’s salon, New Modern Bombay Men’s Parlour on Southend Road and ask for a Kuvempu Mushroom Cut or a fancy Shivaram Karanth Scissor Cut. If you do not want a haircut, you could ask for Da Ra Bendre Face Shave or Girish Karnad Eyebrow Threading...and much more!
“I am doing this to promote Kannada language,” says Harish, who has been a hairdresser for over 40 years in the Basavanagudi area. “Basically, I cannot stand people who are living in Bangalore for years, but don’t speak Kannada. Through hairdressing, I am trying to create awareness about the language.”
It was last November when an idea sparked in Harish’s mind as he imagined Kuvempu’s hairstyle. “You know, Kuvempu always got himself a machine cut. So it was during one such machine cut that I got the idea. I used the machine to cut hair to look like a mushroom on the head, much like Kuvempu’s. Even today, I tell my customers who get a machine cut that this is how Kuvempu looked. Similarly, many boys get their eyebrows done, and I tell them about Karnad’s sharp eyebrows,” Harish laughs.
He developed this idea to further his intention of promoting Kannada as a language. At present, he offers 10 styles named after the Jnanpith awardees, thespian Rajkumar and poet G S Shivarudrappa. The menu is painted outside his salon on the typical red-yellow background.
It is affordable, too. Harish charges `50 for a haircut, `30 for a shave and `50 for bleaching. His two sons, who have completed Class 10, help him in his salon while his daughter is married.
Harish also gives away books on Kannada to his customers. “Most non-Kannadigas respond positively to my words. They realise that they should start speaking Kannada. I give them small books and ask them to have them read by their neighbours,” he says.
He has more than 200 books in his salon that customers can read as they wait for their turn.
Every November, Harish is invited by several organisations and NGOs to cut children’s hair and he does it for free. As a practice, he also visits an orphanage on Bull Temple Road, cuts children’s hair and distributes sweets — all for free. “I do the same on the birthdays of Dr Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan.”
‘I am not educated’
Harish dropped out of school after finishing Class 4 and he blames himself for not studying further. “Looking back now, I feel I should have continued education. My father, who was also a hairdresser, was willing to support my education. I didn’t show interest,” he says. Harish adds that he finds solace in the work he is doing now. “I feel I am making up for my lost education.”
Harish regularly visits the homes of writer Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa) and freedom fighter H S Doreswamy for hairdressing. His dream, however, was to cut Dr Rajkumar’s hair. Interestingly, in contrast to his love for Kannada, another ambition of his is to cut Tamil superstar Rajinikanth’s hair. “Well, I also want to be a hairdresser for singer S P Balasubramaniam.”
His salon is located opposite Kamala Nehru School, Southend Road. For details, call 9901843778.
Da Ra Bendre Face Shaving
Masti Venkatesh Iyengar head massage
Shivaram Karanth scissor cutting
VK Gokak oil massage
Dr Rajkumar Makeup
GS Shivarudrappa Face Massage
UR Ananthamurthy Beard Trimming
Girish Karnad Eyebrow threading
Chandrashekar Kambar face bleaching