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‘Gone Kesh’ Inspired Me to Come Out & Speak About Alopecia

Alopecia is a condition that causes rapid loss of hair.

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I was in Class I. Dressed in a cute ‘princess’ frock, my grandmother was tying my hair with a nice red ribbon when she let out a squeal. There was a bald patch on my head! Nobody quite knew what happened. Somehow, we hid that and went to take part in the celebrations.

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In Gone Kesh, a film starring Shweta Tripathi and directed by Qasim Khallow, when I saw the main character Enakshi’s father paint her bald patch black to stop her being bullied in school, it took me back to the day when I entered my classroom, bald. There was silence for some good five minutes, as if everyone was mourning the loss of the one crucial thing by which beauty is defined – hair. Some laughed, some sympathised, but I was lucky to have friends who did not care how I looked.

Alopecia back then was a condition barely known to people, even doctors. I wasn’t surprised when a general physician in the film termed it as a ‘calcium and protein deficiency.’ Suddenly, everyone becomes concerned and advices start pouring in. While Enakshi was put on a diet of carrots, eggs and milk, I was advised to religiously rub onion juice and eggs on my scalp!

It took a change of numerous doctors and peculiar medicines to finally get to the actual truth - alopecia is an auto-immune disease that cannot be cured. 

It is a condition that causes rapid loss of hair. In alopecia universals, a person becomes bald in a short period of time. Steroids, painful sessions of syringes being injected on the scalp and ointments can bring the hair back temporarily, but in the quest to look better, it does harm to the body. From excessive facial hair growth to osteoporosis and a host of other problems, steroids can have numerous side-effects and they can never be the cure for alopecia.

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While some doctors only focus on ‘curing’ the disease, some come as saviours, as Enakshi says in the film. And that was exactly what happened to me. One suggestion from a kind soul was life-altering. “Wear a wig”, a doctor said, and there was no turning back. The confidence that I had buried somewhere came bouncing back. The mirror which had become my biggest enemy suddenly showed me a smile that was probably lost among humiliation and bullying.

Alopecia is a condition that causes rapid loss of hair.
A still from the film.
(Photo courtesy: YouTube)

But of course, how can the nation not demand to know whether I slept wearing my wig or took it off? And aunties would prod on – how will you get married ? Well, of course, education and a good job cannot be even counted as priorities for a woman in a society where she has been objectified throughout – be it in books or films, the heroine or princess or even the damsel-in-distress had to be this girl with long, thick hair. No wonder I could never get past those auditions for the part of the heroine in school plays.

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For a condition that does not have a permanent solution, friends and family showed me that beauty indeed lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Gone Kesh is possibly the first Bollywood film to address this condition. Not for once did Shweta Tripathi or the director make fun of the condition. Rather, they sensitised us to the fact that a little support from parents and near and dear ones can help people battle anything.

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Topics:  Gone Kesh   Alopecia 

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