As in the art world, inspiration can spawn imitation. Jeweller Rajiv Popley is so taken up by the master that he is going to great lengths to tend his first-time moustache, Salvador Dali-like style
For centuries, artists have had various muses to get their creative juices running. But here’s a case where an artist became a muse himself. For about a year now, Rajiv Popley, director of the Popley Group, has been grooming his moustache to resemble his inspiration, Salvador Dali. The eccentric Spanish artist famously had a handlebar moustache that pointed upwards and resembled clock hands at 10 past 10. And while the Mumbai-based jeweller may not have reached Dali’s facial hair length, he’s still chuffed by the result.
The project began after Popley was exposed to Dali’s works during his visit to Spain, early in 2017. Being an amateur painter, Popley claims he felt connected to the artist’s work in surrealism. “I found the sync happening in my artworks. That’s when I took it up as a tribute through my art and by growing the moustache,” says Popley, whose favourite Dali work is ‘Space elephant’.
It was a tough journey though, admits Popley, who has been clean shaven all his life. In fact, it’s a tradition — no one from his family or friends sports a beard or moustache. “A clean-shaven face was considered a good thing at home. My daughter is still not gung ho about the idea but she tolerates it,” says Popley with a chuckle, during a phone conversation with ETPanache.
From Day 1, Popley decided he would get it right, by going to the salon rather than experimenting at home. To get the twirl, however, took another two to three months of meticulous maintenance. From a person who hardly went to salons, Popley now visits one near his home in Juhu, Mumbai, on a weekly basis. “I always thought having a beard didn’t require any maintenance. It’s just the reverse. It’s a task now,” he says.
Popley says grooming the moustache is almost like “pampering” himself. There is beard oil and cleanser for growth and hygiene. For shaving, he uses a special transparent jelly cream. “You can see the beard and trim it only with the transparent jelly. I bought it on my Dubai trips,” he says. The other tool is an L-shaped beard comb, picked up during his trip to Zurich. “My wife keeps checking what new things I’ve ”
bought, he says.
While he couldn’t reach out to his cleanshaven friends for advice, Popley says that his buddies can now consult him if they decide to grow some fuzz. “So, Dali has taught me a lot,” he says. The one thing Popley compromised on is the length of the moustache. “I spend most of my day at work and I feel a little embarrassed with that [the long moustache]. But I try to do whatever’s possible,” he says.
The moustache is a conversation starter, not only at home, but also with his business friends and the fraternity. “With my family, it’s like a dialogue on the table. I feel they will move me out of the table if I don’t have the moustache. The conversation goes into many directions and everyone has their own opinion. And my own opinion is the last on the agenda,” he says, with a laugh.