Hiring foreign stylists: What's wrong with us?

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By HT

New Delhi, Feb. 8 -- Actor Katrina Kaif roping in a London-based hairstylist to colour her hair red and the sum of '55 lakh spent on it has left Indian beauty experts feeling undermined.

This isn't the only case of Bollywood choosing foreign professionals over Indians. Actor Rishi Kapoor's makeup in the upcoming film Kapoor and Sons has been done by American makeup artist Greg Cannom. "The expenditure of creating my face and his travel, his stays in hotels and his assistants is exorbitant. It costed '2crore," Kapoor was quoted as saying.

Cannom is also doing Shah Rukh Khan's makeup in his film Fan. In Katrina's case, it has turned out that she was scared that an Indian hairstylist might damage her hair.

London-based hairstylist Asgar Saboo, who styled the actor's red locks for her film, Fitoor, says: "She was worried about her hair. She didn't want any damage, which is why she didn't opt for an Indian hairstylist," says Saboo.

The hairstylist's team worked with Katrina thrice. "She came (to London) to finalise the colour. Then she returned to have it done. Red fades fast, so we later flew to India to top it up. She didn't want anyone else to do it as she feared a colour change," he says.

Hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani says such distrust is upsetting. "For Katrina to think that we can't execute a simple red is sad. It's upsetting that you attend Cannes and brag about your hair being done by a London stylist."

Sapna adds that engaging foreign experts is now a common practice in Bollywood. "Half of them don't have a work permit. Actors protect them and pay them a lot more than what they would pay Indians.

Some charge a lakh a day," she says. Makeup artist Shraddha Naik, too, believes that actors are obsessed with foreign talent.

"This bias is disheartening. We have equally talented artists in India who can compete globally," she says.

Producer Krishika Lulla says the budget of the film is also hugely affected when a foreign hair and makeup artist is chosen. "If it's important, then it's okay to get it done abroad. Otherwise Indian hairstylists are equally good. Actors must think about the budget too," she says.