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Komal Panwar


Bollywood’s Brave Hair Stylist Susane Emmanuel Reveals Her Story

  • JWB Post
  •  July 29, 2016


There’s a certain fairy tale land connected with Bollywood. There’s a reason why the Bollywood beauties look so incredible, and we don’t even realize, but we forget to share the credit with those who deserve it the most.

Meet Susane Emmanuel, the hairstylist for many Bollywood actresses, who shares the story of her incredible journey.

“I was in the 12th standard when I started working as a hair stylist. I was not keen on doing this job because I wanted to be a software engineer. My father was an engineer, so I always wanted to be a software engineer. But, he met with an accident and was paralyzed. And I being the elder daughter of the house, had to take up the responsibility. I did various kind of jobs as I worked as a receptionist, telephone operator, typist, etc. I’ve worked in marketing as well. There is no job that I’ve not done in this life of mine. One of my aunts suggested that I should take up the job of a stylist because it’s lesser hours of work with good money. And at the time that was important because my siblings were studying.

But I was still not keen on doing this job because I felt it was not worth it doing other people’s hair after studying so much. But then I had no other choice. I started with the regional serials, and initially I wasn’t getting paid well. But then I was not trained, and I had not learned anything. So I said let me start at least.

When I was working for regional serials, there was this old lady, who is Ketki Dave’s grandmother. She was one of the actors in that serial and was very fond of me. She taught me how to use a wig. She taught me some basics that I kept in mind but also improvised on it because I like doing experiments.

That is when someone told me that if I want to grow, I will have to train under an expert. I then went to the best of the people, begged them, and requested them. They refused straight away. I was okay with it the first time because I thought it happens. But it went on and the third no was very discouraging. By then, I had decided that tomorrow these will be the people who will stand in front of me and ask me ‘Susane, how are you?’ I decided to make myself like that.

Then I came to know that someone was looking for an assistant. She wanted a good assistant, who could run around, take care of finances and also manage everything in the group. I started working with her and then slowly she gave me all the possession of her work because she was working elsewhere. While working with her, Aishwarya Rai spotted me one day and told her dada that, ‘one day I want this girl to work with me.’ She said, ‘I like the way she works, Matlab there is something about her. There is spontaneity. There is something like, you know, dedication’.

A few months later, one fine day Aishwarya Rai called for me. She was in a fix as something went wrong with her staff and she had tried many big hair stylists but for some reason, they didn’t work for her. I was the last choice. I was asked to come the next day. I was briefed about the look, but I didn’t know who the actor was. It was the look for Hum Kisise Kum Nahi. The shoot was happening in Tulip Star, Juhu. I reached there at the given time. I set up everything and was also very anxious to know who I am going to work with. I was told it’s a big star, and you better be prepared, this is their look and all. When she walked in, I was like stunned. I was still not trained. But for some reason, I think Aishwarya was very impressed with the way I presented myself and she was also happy with the fact that she could sit and talk to me because I could speak English. And I was educated so that I could understand. So when I started with her hair she did not know for a second that I’m not trained, I did it so confidently. Though I was nervous because she was a big star and a Miss World, it did not show on my face. The same day she said, to me ‘Susane, you’ve passed your exam. In the evening we’ve got another shoot. You have to fare better there.’ I said, of course, I will try my best. When I went in the evening, I went to the sets of Devdas. There I had to make her wear a long wig which I have never used in my life. It is known as the Kaichi wig. So I did not know how to use it. But there was a little confidence. I used my brains, and she helped me do the front. She was happy and said that she did not imagine I would reach up to the mark. So that was my first time I started with a star.

After Aishwarya, I have never looked back. There is no actress who’s not been styled with these hands. There’s been a lot of people I worked with since Aishwarya. Then, I worked with Kim Sharma, Amrita Arora, Malaika Arora Khan, Neha Dhupia, Celina Jaitley, Tanushree Dutta, Lara Dutta, Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty, Shamita Shetty. I have worked with the most snobbish actors of this industry, without any ego issue, without any attitude problems. But I faced difficulties because there was a time when I did not have any guru so whatever I did was on my own. There was a time when I wanted to try things, and my actresses never allowed me to do. But I’m really thankful to Deepika Padukone because she let me do whatever I wanted to do.

Though I didn’t have issues with my actors, my seniors tortured me a lot. They tortured me because I was a modern girl, coming from a Catholic family. So for me, what I wore was not important, and only the comfort factor mattered. So I used to come in jeans and t-shirts, and though they (senior stylists) were from educated families, they were vernacular in their minds. They started torturing me. But today I see every second person is doing the same thing, what I do. So for me it’s like, I’ve set a trend in my industry. Otherwise, I had seniors who used to come up and tell me ‘Don’t wear this kind of clothes, you know it doesn’t work.’ So I was like ‘But I’m okay with it’. They used to say ‘Nahin, you should wear salwar kameez’s and all yaar.’ I was like F**k. I’m a modern girl who never wore anything but shorts, and you’ll are telling me to wear clothes that cover my body. I said no, that’s not happening. They thought wearing salwar kameez was a sign that I was coming from a good family. I didn’t understand that logic. Today everyone has become modern. Hair stylists come in shorts so today the clothes are not important. But yes, that time it was.

Today, for me my job is very important, and I give my 100 percent. For me, I don’t take the liberty of making excuses that oh, it’s 2 o’clock in the night, now what touch up and all that. For me, I don’t start thinking that. My focus is only one thing that my work is going to be seen on the 100 mm screen, so it has to look good because, though I am behind the scene, when the person looks pretty or beautiful, it looks good on me.

It has been 22 years now since I am working and the journey has been amazing. And now the tables have turned. I am working with those who once rejected me. Today also I meet that lady, who once told me no to train, but today I am working at par with her. Once, there was a time when I was working with a heroine, and she had come with a secondary actress, and I went up to her and said ‘Hello, how are you?’ She ignored me. And I understand why this is coming because she can’t tolerate the fact that yesterday I was the one she said no to and today I am standing with a big actress in front of her. And I really feel sorry for her. And those who taunted me for my dressing sense, today their dressing styles have changed, and now they are dressing up like me.

All of them who used to comment saying ‘Yeh aaj kal ki nayi ladkiyaan, tight-tight kapde pehen ke aati hai, pata nahin kya karti, iski wajah se inko kaam milta hai and this and that and you know’ they helped me reach where I am today. I ignored them and worked hard to reach this level. I never turned back and answered or bothered to say anything to anybody. I didn’t do that because I always believed in one thing – When an elephant walks, dogs bark. I still follow that!”- Stylist Susane Emmanuel

Her story was first shared


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