“As a half-Indian half-Western person, I’ve always found Indian guys hot, well; the good looking ones. SBM is dedicated to the very hottest Indian actors and to the top male models.”
Ash -- creator of Shirtless Bollywood Men
Nobody can argue with the fact that some of the most gorgeous men alive today are Bollywood actors; something that hasn’t escaped the attention of M A L E.
What's more, as our interviewee explains, they can dance! To date, over 7 million people have hit, or re-hit, on the Shirtless Bollywood Men blog -- and there are 5,000 members of the Yahoo e.-group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shirtlessbollywoodmen/; established nearly 12 years ago.
Not surprisingly we wanted to interview the Bollywood expert and super-blogger behind this phenomenon!
M. Hi there, Ash. -- how are you today? Actually, where are you?
Hi. I’m doing ok. I'm based half the time in Berlin, and the other half in Mumbai.
M. Very nice. So, thanks for taking some time-out to talk with M A L E about your life and your fantastic blog: Shirtless Bollywood Men.
Thanks! Feedback’s really appreciated.
M. Congratulations, by-the-way; because you have created something truly amazing, we think.
M. So. When and why did you commence the Shirtless Bollywood Men blog?
The blog has existed about 3 years now. I could find sites devoted to Thai/Chinese/Japanese, Black or Caucasian hunks; but little or none focused on sub-continental guys. Originally there were 4 people that created it - while we were all in Uni. Ash is an acronym; which is half my name: Ashwin. But Ash is also: Avantika, Sohail and Hema, and me Ashwin -- 2 girls and 2 guys. We wanted to create a specific Bollywood site. People think it’s a gay site, but it’s not, just super gay-friendly!! It was created by girls who love hot guys too, oh, and there's nothing pornographic or fake on the site; something I absolutely insist on. Mostly because there are millions of those sites already. This is office-friendly!
M. Great; it seems we think the same way. M A L E is about positive portrayal and looking beyond the surface -- even if the surface is lovely enough already? Do you source all of the imagery personally? Do friends or members of your Yahoo group help you out?
It’s a mix. Whenever I pick up an Indian magazine, I scan for the hottest images, and put them up. A lot of contributions from various members are included; although there are about just 5 or 6 people who regularly contribute. Recently, we've had some original content too, with guys sending in their own photography. We do edit., and don't put-up the non-hot guys, but we try not to be mean about it -- because it’s really nothing personal.
M. How much of your day does it consume? Is it a 'time-eating monster'?
As a student I had a lot of time, but now, with work, over the weekend or on a slow day, I update. I really wish I could spend more time on it.
M. You also have another blog; about men in speedos. Correct?
Yep; that's the original obsession, hot, famous, great-bodied dudes; in speedos! I studied in an English School, and we all had to wear speedos, so I guess it was born out of an early pubescent obsession that never faded. Especially as speedos are dying out; except in Italy and Australia, and, sometimes in England. It’s a shame those damned dull board-shorts are taking over the world. If you have it -- flaunt it!
M. There is a huge and incredible mix of imagery. Do you know how many in total to date? We are talking several thousand, right?
Yep. I’ve completely lost track of how many.
M. There are images that are from the past, sometimes several decades old, which is great. Is there a starting point for images of sexy actors? Did any 1 person start this -- in your opinion? Who was it?
No, nobody specific, really. There were some actors in the '70s and the early '80s who started the ‘fit-look’. Before that, most Bollywood hunks were modest, and rarely had good bodies. In the mid. '80s; speedos hit Bollywood, and Indian actors started flaunting their fabulous bodies. Now it’s becoming rare again.
M. Ok. Who would be the stand-out personalities or ground-breakers? I think there must’ve been a few?
Absolutely. Akshay Kumar was a ground-breaking, super-straight but gay-friendly hunk -- and a major leading Indian actor who never shied-away from wearing speedos on-screen. Apparently, he famously worked out in speedos (at his gym), in the early '90s. A seriously heterosexual player who loved to show-off his gorgeous hirsute body; but sadly, he’s now married, has waxed his chest, and never wears speedos!
M. Did anybody, at any time, create a scandal by being naked in print -- or, in a film? Who was that?
Indian actor Shahrukh Khan and Rishi Kapoor are about the only two leading Bollywood hunks to ever reveal their cute butts on-screen. Rarely is there nudity on film in India -- by men or women. There was some scandal back in the day, but before my time. Milind Soman - the Indian male model - revealed his butt in an advertising campaign in the 1990s and that created a huge furore in Mumbai. I wasn't in India at the time and missed out on the fuss; but the butt shot is on the blog!
Recently, Inder Bajwa did a semi-nude shoot for an American magazine: http://shirtlessbollywoodmen.blogspot.hk/2011/03/inder-bajwa.html. He was semi-nude...in fact, he wasn't nude - all the bits were covered... but The entire shoot got pulled! By-and-large, India remains wildly conservative.
M. Wow! Who has those images -- the wife? Fast-forwarding, do you think that now, in Bollywood, being photographed almost naked is vital to an actor’s career? Is it essential?
No, no one does any nudity. But having a ‘six-pack’ seems to be important now. The entire new generation of young and rising Bollywood/Indian actors have great torsos. But they never wear briefs/speedos or show anything more.
M. Could a Bollywood actor wishing to make it big manage by keeping covered-up?
Yep, as I said, by-and-large India remains conservative.
M. Do you have a current favourite? If so; who?
Too many to list; but the top three are: Akshay Kumar, the godly and perfect Hrithik Roshan, and tv hunk Abhinav Shukla. All have fantastic bodies and great faces. And a raw sexuality that's palpable.
M. And who, in your opinion, should get more naked and be photographed more?
Super cute and new and rising star Shahid Kapoor. So far he's only posed shirtless a few times. He's got a rocking body -- but so shy. Why, I wonder?
M. In the so-called West we are still discovering, or perhaps un-covering, sub-continental masculinity; as projected by Bollywood. What qualities do Bollywood actors have that Hollywood actors don’t? Are there qualities unique to sub-continental men?
Yep, they're great dancers and not shy about it. Looking good is paramount in Bollywood, and; the acting thing is a bit secondary. But all Indian actors in Bollywood have to shake-it! They have to do the big epic musical numbers and be masculine and do a damn good job.
M. Ok. So the last question has to be about the future of your blogs. No doubt there will always be images to reproduce; but do you have any specific plans about making it into something else? Or, is the current form perfect?
No, it’s far from perfect; but I do think it’s the best Indian hunk based blog ever! I would love to make some money from the blog, and dedicate more time to it. Original content, images and contributions would be great so that it becomes a real force to reckon with? We're not a vulgar site, or pornographic, so we’re hoping that aspiring and current leading men would send-in pictures. Wishful thinking, so far.
M. Well Ash., thank you so much for your time -- and, for answering all the questions. This interview should alert more people to Shirtless Bollywood Men; and I’m sure they will like it as much as we do and, be as eager to see your future posts!