This appeared in The South Asian Times on August 1st, 2009.
A very 'newsworthy' segment popped up recently on one of the news channels about tattoos being the latest fad in India. Some celebrities had catchy ones so I tried to capture names along with the associated content mentally.
My colorful commentary before I go name dropping. I love tattoos. Temporary ethnic ones that do their job on the occasion they were brought in for and never interfere with my existence, reputation or image again. I've never let them on enough to figure how long before they turn from 'ooh nice' to 'unfortunate'. I wouldn't puncture myself for anything though. I'd be a total wuss and not get a real one for fashion sake or to satisfy whims and fancies but loads of people get it done for what it means to them: a souvenir of their wild vacation, a last resort for proving their undying love, their attempt at being a rebel or to just fit in. I've seen everything from dragons to butterflies to kanji characters to people's names in Chinese. Perhaps everybody needs a youthful indiscretion or two, and a strategically placed tattoo that can be hidden well may not probably be something worth regretting too much.
I think the million dollar question isn't whether you have one but where you have it. If you have it on the face, head or wrists, you'll never have to worry about getting a job or paying taxes. No venture capitalists will ask to submit business plans either so you can safely throw those entrepreneurship dreams out of the window. If you have it on the neck somewhere, you are probably in prison in which case I shouldn't elaborate on it for safety reasons. Forearms are the only socially acceptable rebellious tattoo zone so if have been wanting to get one but not sure where, pick this area. Upper back may not get you bang for your buck because you can't wear halters and tube tops forever and what's the point of getting it done if you ain't gonna flaunt it. The only significance I could uncover for a tattoo on the lower back would be that you'll never have to pay for anything. The ones on your abs can be super high maintenance unless you hang out at the gym a lot whereas ankle tattoos can be cute and easy to pull off no matter who you are.
As for the celebs, we're maxed out on Saif Ali Khan tattoo talk but he started it all so definitely deserves a mention here. He's been sporting Kareena’s name in Hindi since ages. Then came Esha Deol with a rather fascinating one - the stylized Gayatri Mantra on her upper back. It looks a little like Ms. Jolie's but who's comparing. Amrita Arora followed suit with a "Love saves the day" on her back. Thanks for entertaining us Amrita. Malaika Arora chose some random letters, Sanju baba chose wife Manyata's name while Shruthi Hassan chose her own in Tamil. Mandira Bedi found a Tibetan Om most suitable and several others are joining the bandwagon and getting into the groove for this "trendy body art".
It’s intriguing that the ‘basic requirements’ list for being a bollywood celebrity keeps getting lengthier by the minute: great looks, well defined body, phenomenal dancing skills, finest networking skills, at least one martial arts proficiency, ability to create controversies and a parent/godfather in the industry. Apparently the latest requirement is tattoos. Oh I almost forgot about acting!
The runner up for that segment for me was Sherlyn Chopra with "I love you". And the winner was undoubtedly some Tollywood actress Trisha with Nemo’s picture (yes the fish) on her chest.