Monday, March 21, 2005

The Chic Sikh: Vikram Chatwal

NOTE: The below image is not of me (Amardeep Singh), it is Vikram Chatwal. I say it because there has often been some confusion about this.

Vikram Chatwal, New York hotel tycoon. Part of an NYT slideshow.


Blogger Shashwati said...

There was a NYT magazine spread a few years ago featuring a sikh, with kohl lined eyes and a taxi lurking in the background in some of the photos. This photograph is reminiscent of it. And is Chatwal wearing eyeliner? I can't quite tell. Its odd to see Sikhs feminized, even if this one is not as pronounced as the spread from a few years ago. This is something I have only seen in the US as far as I can think (note: both these instances are in the NYT), British images usually portray Sikshs as fierce warriors, and the Indian ones pre-1984 might portray Sikhs as large, manly types, or rotund comic types, but never feminized. I think the turban in the US is reminescent of the feminized Asiatic of the Hollywood imagination of yesteryears. Hence the luxurious red of the turban and the curtain. But then, whats up with the tattoos and chest hair? The last person with chest hair prominently displayed was Austin Powers, and tattoos, surely their is a cottage industry in cultural studies about tatttoos. Perhaps someone will hold forth on it and illuminate the rest of us.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Amardeep said...


Yes, I think I remember that (I also remember seeing Vik Chatwal in Vogue at some point around then too, rather feminized in the way you're describing...)

Perhaps the feminization is a kind of orientalism fetish? Or maybe it has something to do, in this picture with the mostly-shaved beard and the bright red background. And also -- the guy just has very sensitive looking eyes.

Interesting thing on the tattoos: most Sikh gyanis will tell you that tattoos are against "Sikhi" (i.e., Sikh dharma). So there is something sort of transgressive about his displaying them -- they defiantly mark his identity in a way that the religion technically proscribes.

Most of the Sikh guys I know with ostentatious "I am Sikh" tattoos (the khanda, crossed swords image) don't wear turbans; they've cut their hair and shaved their beards. It's a way of alluding to the identity once the most prominent marker of it is gone.

Of course, with Vikram Chatwal, who matches his turban color to his Pumas, it probably has more to do with making the right kind of fashion statement.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Ms. World said...

I posted the same photo on my weblog but my discussion is a little more scandalous and lustful ;). I don`t think he looks feminized at all. I think he is masculinity personified in a very chic Sikh form. I think the eyeliner was used to accent the eyes and nothing more.

Thanks Amardeep for indirectly answering the question that I asked in my post about Mr. Chatwal. I didn`t think the Sikh religion looked on favorably to tattoes.

I won`t write all over your blog but I`m soooooo feeling him.

12:55 AM  
Blogger coolie said...


Its quite fashionable for Sikhs to have 'Khanda' tatoos in England. Its intersting what you say about gyani's forbidding tatoos because my grandfather has 'Ik Onkar' tatood on his forearm which he had done at a mela when he was aged fifteen or sixteen, and I asked him about it, he said that back in Punjab there would be these tatooists that would go round to every mela and do tatoos. He didnt realise it would last forever. Then I noticed at the Gurdwara and in other places, quite a few of the elders have the same kind of thing, a slightly blurry blue tatoo of one of the symbols of Sikhi.

With a lot of the young Sikhs who get tatoos in the West, like you say, its as much a tribal marker as anything.

Now, especially for MsWorld, this is a photo UK style, of Gangster Rap Sikh Chic

4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The kraytwinz rock!!!!!

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add to what has already been said i suppose. Sikhi does not condone tattoos.

I think the guys looks kinda strange but thats entirely his choice.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey hez actually da most fashionable sikh alive..or no he was coz now he does.nt wear his turban as hez cut his hair totally..which is nt suiting him at al...hez now become a ctsurd so we cnt cll him a sikh...though he is supercool

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, any kind of altering your body is forbidden in Sikhism. Elderly people who got tattoos on them was because of their cultural beleifs not religious. Mistakes done in ignorance are forgiven but mistakes done despite of knowing the facts is not. Tattoos, shaving etc is absolutely forbidden.

2:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think neither Vikram Chatwal is a Sikh (he cuts hair & even shaves his beard) nor he beleives in Sikhism as Sikhi does not condone tattoos .

So saying him Chic Sikh is absolutely meaningless.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they look really good. You've inspired me to get one now.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

having a tattoo of a khanda and guru gobind signh ji maharaj is totally hypercritical and those of us who follow sikhi find it highly offensive.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think having a tattoo doesn't mean your less of a sikh. You or other people are not here to judge, ok everyone is entitled to their own opinions and thats good. But don't preach about how you can't do this that or the other. Are you gonna say what you say on here to the older folk who have tattoos of ik onkar on their hands (those of them who do) cos I think you should and see what kind of reaction you get from them.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there,i know i'm a bit late on the tattoo business but does anyone remember some of the real reasons our elder generations had their names tatooed on their arms? Some were illiterate and it was id not a fashion statement as just about everything else seems to be nowadays.
Surely anyone who knows about Sikhi understands that it is a religion that is ever evolving and the purity is in an inividual honestly trying to follow 'the rules'. The world has changed since our religion was established and so our modes of religious upkeep have.

As for the photo,ok so he's decent looking if ya like that kinda thing! But hey my husband's soooooo much better looking and there is no way on God's earth i would let him pose topless for anyone else but me!!!!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our gurus set up this religion in the first place so that we could follow a way of life which was the most satisfactory. The sikh way of life was created for this time. Our religion isnt changing, we are.

Those tattoos may impress the girls but not the guru.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your an assistant proffesor?
that's kind of embarrasing.....
a half nude assistant professor :S

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Sikh Brit, can't say that I or many of my friends approve of the tatoos, especially the depiction of Guru Gobind Singh Ji - grossly offensive.

He looks to feminine, trimmed beard, what is all that about. He really needs to beef up too, big time!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow Sikh, I must say that Vikram is not unique in his expression of the Sikh faith. Now days many Sikhs vary rarely follow the Sikh faith properly and rather jus pick/pull elements from the faith that appear to be cool or fashionable. This is also clearly visible in the Sikh music industry. Today, the Sikh faith also seems to portray a very masculine theme which appeals to the ego's of many youth. I myself am far from a good Sikh. Heck in my experience many Sikh adults were mainly just stupid drunk hypocrites who did not follow the religion vary much aside from just being born in it.Therefore cant blame youth for jus being allured to mainly the warrior aspect of the religion. However, i think this problem may not be as prevalent India than it is outside of india.

I am a vary liberal Sikh and i dont think people should be pointing out the mistakes of others in following the Sikh religion because following this religion is becoming more difficult with each new generation.

I think today Sikhs should jus do there thang and be more open the spiritual aspect of the religion and basically do the best they can.

Sorry for ranting on but i jus felt that i had to get this off my chest .I am 19 rite now and I'd like to think that i know what i am talking about but i could wrong as shit.This is jus my opiinon from what i have experienced. Oh yea, and Vikram does look pretty scrawny and feminine/gay lol..

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sikhism doesn't really believe in tattoos,because its modifying the body that god has given you and the fact that you must shave the hair before the tattoo is applied as well as the building ego thing. i think for a true hardcore sikh believer it is wrong, buttt the fact is society evolves and a problem with most religions is they aren't equipt to deal with the changes have happened.
i think vikram has tried to follow sikhism to the best he can hes grown his hair to show devotion on some level and although doesn't have a full beard, he has a slight beard.. its hard to follow a religion perfectly, i hardly believe many people actually do follow the religion to exact precision. and one thing is that we are all individualls and should have our own take on how we believe we should live our lives, i think vikram has done nothing wrong he has simply used sikhism to help him have a guidline of how to live his life but has used his own values aswell.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across this while looking for a tattoo idea for my boyfriend..nothing sikhism related though. I feel that sikhism tattoos are nice but only for people who truely practice sikhism ex) turban, no removal of hair, no meat..etc. Being from surrey, i have noticed every brown guy driving down 72nd with his honda civic has a lion or tiger or khanda on his arm..while holding a doube in his hand. I dont understand the point of getting such a religous tattoo if all you are going to do is club, sleep around, drink, blaze..etc etc..That is far from what sikhism is..The tattoos that our grandparents had were signs of respect..The tattoos that these kids have are just to show off that they are sikh..but kurupt. I see no point in it.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is really offensive seeing people with religious tatoo's and being complete opposites of what they are supposed to be according to their faith. Very hypocritical, why do people think that they can travel in two boats at once without drowning?? Tatoo's are against Sikhi so he is really confused or messed up a bit of both realli though??

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

m/22/ a 22 year old sikn from nz and i've been thinking about getting a khanda on my back for quite sometime.i think it shouldnt matter if u beleive in it.the Guru ji's our forefathers paved the way of our we could prosper and be peaceful.the rule and regulations shouldnt change overtime people do.i have a shaved beard but i don't grow my hair.u have to practise what you preach.its not right just to do it 2 look cool.i think thats unjust!

2:39 AM  
Blogger mannu said...

If you dont see god in all, you dont see god at all. Its a funny thing you so called "Sikhs" talking about this man and calling him absurd names. Have you any fear in dharam raj? All this slander. You sinners. If our guru came back and asked you to give your life for the panth, 99% of you would coward away and you know who you are. So if this man is skinny, you ever read dasam granth shaib, a small little bird can fight a hawk. I have so many tattos of baba deep singh maharaja ranjit singh, i got jaap shaib tattoed on my arm. I bet half of you so called "sikhs" dont even pray, and when you go to the gudwara you probably stare at women. I bet most of you couldnt even tell any one all the ten gurus names let alone thier respective birth dates and death date. I bet all you so called poser sikhs dont even know "boasting of the false is false" jap ji shaib. Anyways, your just a bunch of haters, uneducated, and just plain posers. Lets see who the real sikhs are when the time comes to lay down your life for someone else. And LOL this is 100% true I bet every cent in my pocket, the majority of you cant even have a disscussion in punjabi without mixing english and stuttering a thousand times. so fuck all you haters, and the only reason your putting this poor guy down and not me is because im a lion, and i bench 600 pounds, dont believe eh? google independant powerlifting, and check the name manish sihota under results for the bruce creig powerlifting memorial. and one more thing im gonna be under contract as a fighter in the "UFC" if you losers dont know what that is its the ulimate fighting chamionships, look for me next year on pay per views. and to all the sikh youth out there, just believe in your self and do what you want in your heart remember that these poser sikhs are no where in life and just blab all thier life long, they are cowards sinners and they slander the world. Who are they to tell us what we cant do.

9:48 AM  

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