Hyderabad: Starting from Raj Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan to VVS Laxman, Allu Arjun and Rana Daggubati, everybody has patronised the services of an 80-year-old salon in Hyderabad.
Alexander Group of Salons was started by Sabgani Ramchander, who was the personal hair stylist of the Nizam of Hyderabad in the late 1930s. Started as a single seat salon for men, the group now boosts of 12 outlets with two men’s salon, 2 exclusive kids salon and remaining unisex salon.
Ramchander was personally called by the Nizam to be his hairstylist and then he went on establish a salon near Nizam Club in Hyderabad in 1938. Later on his son S Bala Prasad took over the business and renovated the salon to suit the modern times and thus got established the first air-conditioned salon in Hyderabad. “My father (Prasad) went to Mumbai in 1950s to get trained under Hakim, who was the hairstylist for leading Bollywood actors of that time. And this is what made the salon popular at that time. Whenever stars like Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan used to come to Hyderabad they used to get their hair styled from my father,” reminisces S Srikanth, the second son and one of the owners of Alexander Salon.
The popularity of the salon can be gauged from the fact that the customers used to line up at the salon since 5 in the morning and used to wait till Prasad got ready. After a lot coaxing from his wife (Sarada Bai), Prasad also expanded the salon and opened a ladies section in the salon. However, when Prasad passed away at a young age of 35, Sarada Bai took over the business and ran it successfully for 25 years. With tear-filled eyes Srikanth informs that it was his mother (Sarada Bai) who overcame many hurdles and prejudices to run the business.
“We were very young when we lost our father but we have seen the struggles of our mother and idolise her for her strength and courage. She was part of the business from 1965 till 2008 – when she passed away. It was only in 1992, that my eldest brother S Chandrakanth came into the business after doing a course under Shehnaz Hussain for skin and hair treatment. A year later I joined and one more year later my younger brother S Vijaykanth also joined,” Srikanth informs.
Vijaykanth alias Alex is popular among the current actors from the Southern industry. Starting from Allu Arjun to Rana to Surya and Upendra he has been providing his hair styling services to them for many years now and has worked in almost 100-150 films as a stylist.
And the trio are ably assisted by their life partners. Chandrakanth’s wife Prasanna has done a beautician course. Srikanth’s wife Madhulatha manages the salon. Pallavi, Alex’s wife, specializes in bridal makeup.
Prasad’s only daughter, S Rajasri, is also one of the managers of the salon. “We are about 14 members of the family who are running the business and have about 130 employees on-board. We have set up a training institute and are also on the lookout for setting a hair transplant centre soon,” Vijaykanth said.
The salon has also joined hands with a blind school to train 15 blind people on reflexology and it will provide them employment in its own spa and also help them find jobs.
Alexander Salon’s fourth generation is also involved in the business with Chandrakanth’s son Prithvi completing a course in hair styling and Srikanth’s two daughters, Jahnavi and Yashashwini, handling the social media and training respectively. Rajasri’s daughter is also a makeup artist. While nobody knows the answer for naming the salon Alexander, we can surely get a glimpse of history in this salon!