KARACHI: Little girls who watched Cinderella dancing with Prince Charming in his military uniform, grew up with the inclination that one day their Prince Charming in uniform would also come on horseback and fulfil their ‘happily ever after’.
Heroes in uniform have a certain aura about them which attracts women. “Just like fancy cars and designer watches, the uniform adds an extra oomph to a man’s personality”, states Shaira Buta, a 24-year-old nutritionist. “Women, generally, like being taken care of and on some level the uniform exudes a position of valour and responsibility,” adds Buta. Jewellery designer Nazneen Tariq nods in agreement and reveals, “My uncle was in the army and when he would visit us, I’d tell him to drive me around in his jeep as I loved to see policemen saluting him.” Dr Julianne Adams, a UK-based psychologist explains that men in uniform “exude stability and dependability, which women look for in a relationship”.
Tales of valour and courage by men in uniform have always gripped popular cinema. From Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) to Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor in 2001, there have been a series of military film heroes who’ve won the hearts of many women with their X factor. The all-time favourite hero who made the hearts of thousands of women skip a beat was Tom ‘Maverick’ Cruise in the 1986 hit Top Gun. “I’ve seen Top Gun over five times and Tom looks really handsome in his fly boy gear and his Ray-Bans are the cherry on top of the cake,” remarks Zarah Samad, a 27-year-old history teacher.
But the obsession with military personnel doesn’t stop in Hollywood. Just when you thought Bollywood had gone beyond those innocent courtships where coy glances between lovers indicate long-lasting love, along comes Mausam, a love story of an Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot (Shahid Kapoor) and a Kashmiri refugee (Sonam Kapoor). In an interview with Gulf News, Sonam, revealed about her co-actor Shahid, “I think any man looks great in a uniform. A woman feels like a woman when [she] sees a man in uniform — your heart just skips a beat.” Contrary to Sonam’s belief, Shahid says cultivating an imposing, authoritative air wasn’t as simple as merely donning a uniform. As part of his legwork, he spent an “entire day” at Pune Air Base mingling with IAF officers and also flew in an F-16 fighter jet. “Pilots are very disciplined about how they conduct their lives,” revealed the actor.
Previously in Bollywood, other mesmerising uniform heroes have included the likes of Shahrukh Khan as Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh in Veer Zaara, Rajesh Khanna as Flight Lieutenant Arun Varma in 1969’s Aradhana, and one can never forget Shashi Kapoor’s iconic smile as Squadron Leader Shekhar Malhotra, whose shocking air crash in Silsila (1981) made one’s heart sink.
The uniforms symbolise ‘alpha’ qualities such as confidence and courage. According to happyworker.com, statistics reveal that 39 per cent of women prefer military men. In 2006, researchers from North Georgia College and State University determined that for 120 female students, photos of six cadets in their ‘dress blues’ were significantly more enticing than photos of the same cadets in their civilian clothes.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2011.
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