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Saturday, March 19, 2016

A villain called time

Hindi cinema is now bereft of iconic villains but there was a time when portraying a negative character meant a lot.One fine morning while going through the newspaper as usual, my eyes noticed an interview of yesteryear’s infamously famous villain Ranjeet. Intriguingly I went ahead and read the entire piece and found out that social lives of the Hindi film villains had been a disastrous one. He mentioned that Rekha and many others were uncomfortable to work with him in the evening slots. In fact, many other villains, have faced similar problems where their prolonged negative depiction had pulverised their social status. This could be one of the reasons that Bollywood hardly produce any iconic villain these days.

Going back to the good old days of Bollywood (especially Amrish Puri, Amjad Khan and Ajeet era), every typical Hindi masala film had a hero and a villain. Needless to say, their roles were poles apart. They fight each other only because they have different agendas and that’s how a script was written to define their identities and to sympathetically support the character of our protagonists.Heroes always had a better appearance than to our villains, who had all inevitable and erroneous traits which turn them into a bad guy. From a romantic saga to a family drama, the presence of villains constantly complicated the problems further.

After Hindi Films started gaining popularity, innumerable people migrated to Mumbai to become an actor and those strugglers invariably desired to play heroes and heroines but unwillingly some of them ended up being the most iconic villains of the Bollywood. Some people even became more popular than heroes only because they had been cast as villains. Sukhi Lal of “Mother India” (1957), “Gabbar Singh” of “Sholay” (1975), Lion of “Kalicharan” ( 1976) , Shakaal of “Shaan” (1980), Dang of “Karma” (1986) , Mogambo of “Mr India” (1987) , Lotiya Pathan of “Tezaab” (1988) , Kesariya Vilayati aka Badman of “Ram Lakhan” (1989), Bhavani of “Shiva” (1989) , Kaancha in “Agneepath” (1990) , Balwant Rai of “Ghayal” (1990), Katya of “Ghatak” (1996) etc are some of the iconic characters that will be remembered only because they had played an anti-hero character.

While the audience wanted to see them getting bartered by our heroes, their roles have been greatly appreciated by almost everyone. It will also not be unfair to say that some of the above films became popular partly because of our heroes but largely because of the evil elements instilled in the characters of our villains. If Gabbar Singh was a terror machine, Mogambo left no stone unturned to become the most hated man in the history of Indian cinema. It is also surprising to note that dialogues of our villains had even become more popular than to our some heroes. Be it Saara Sheher Hame Lion ke naam se jaanta hai (The Entire city knows me as Lion) to Mogambo Khush Hua (Mogambo is on cloud 9), From Kitney Aadmi They? (How many men were there?) To Bad Man and many more will keep us making reminiscent of their legendary roles.

But moving on to 1990s, then Shahrukh Khan and today’s SRK bagged two back to back negative roles. He was probably the first one to revive a hero in a negative role. While “Darr” (1993) and “Baazigar” (1993) released in the same year, dismayed the audience, Shahrukh became a star overnight only by doing such roles. Nevertheless in the past also Sunil Dutt in Mother India (1957) had also done a vicious role and after more than three decades later his own son did a remarkable job in “Khalnayak” (1993).

Eventually some auteurs started experimenting with shades of grey into the characters of our protagonists and many have successfully done so while keeping the villains completely at the bay. Some noteworthy examples in this regard are Anjaam” (1993) , “Yes Boss” (1997) , “Company” (2002), “Khakee” (2004) , “Dhoom” (2004), “Omkara” (2006), “Shootout at Lokhandwala” (2007), “Race” (2008) “Kurbaan” (2009) , “Force” (2011), “Shootout at Wadala” (2013), “Badlapur” (2015) and the list is endless.

All such films have justified the negative element in the narrative of that film and to play a villain perhaps look sexier these days that is why from Hrithik Roshan to Aamir Khan, none have left an opportunity to play a khalnayak.

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