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The Best Bad Boys of Bollywood

 By Kratika Sharma

"Kitne aadmi the?” this dialogue not only reminds me of one of the greatest movies ever made but is also symbolic of the importance of a villain in a Hindi film. The untidy profile, crass language, the devil may care attitude made Gabbar Singh one of the most liked villains in the history of Indian cinema. Just like a villain is supposed to do, he too made the lives of the heroes difficult; he abducted the heroine and used her as bait. If it wasn't for him there wouldn't be any need of Jay and Veeru. Thakur would have had his family well and alive and Basanti would've probably married a farmer and be a mother of three. There would probably be no Sholay to remember and love. Yes, villains are the unsung heroes of the script of a film. There would be no need of a hero to rescue the damsel. There would be no dead father to avenge. No spice. A plain, normal life for all. The villain makes it all happen.

  Bollywood has had its share of villains in these 100 years. Be it the circumstantial villain who just fell in love with same girl the hero has feelings for and to acquire her he chooses the path where evil resides or the plain satanic rich lad who gets pleasure out of people's pain; we've seen it all. 

The 60's saw Prem Chopra and Pran rising to fame with the villainous roles they performed in their early years. Prem Chopra's presence on screen was enough to scare away the women in the vicinity and run for their lives. Pran, on the other hand got to play a rich, sophisticated and sly man who would back-stab the hero after gaining his trust most often. Of course, this era saw many other villains, as well and one of them being Vinod Khanna, but none are remembered the way Prem Chopra and Pran are. While Pran did go on playing a lot of positive roles, Prem Chopra remained THE villain for most of his films. His infamous dialogue "Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra" gives us a reason to remember Bobby other than just Dimple Kapadia's hot avatar and Rishi Kapoor's chocolate boy looks.

Then came the era of larger than life sets, long romantic sequences, bell-bottoms and rock n’ roll. The 70's also belonged to Ajit and Amjad Khan. Both these actors started by playing positive roles but achieved success with roles like Lion (Loyan) and Gabbar Singh. These roles are so popular that till date these actors are identified with them. Even though Mughal-e-Azam was a huge success, you probably would not remember Ajit being a part of that film as much as you remember him being a part of Zanjeer as Lion. This respected man of the city with the most unique way of speaking and intimidating the crowd with his class was the most cunning of them all. His actions in Yaadon ki Baarat made Dharmendra mad with vengeance. Same is the story with Amjad Khan, he played positive roles in Lawaaris, Yaarana, Chameli ki Shaadi, Shatranj ke Khiladi; yet what he is most remembered for are his roles in Sholay and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. His alliance with JD (Ranjeet, who also is one of the most noted villains in Indian cinema) becomes the reasons for the trials and tribulations in Sikandar's (Amitabh Bachchan) life.

Following the 70's, in the 80's came Shaan, a film Kulbhushan Kharbanda will always be remembered for. Shakaal, the cruel,techno-savvy crime-lord with the coolest headquarters gave audiences a wave of fear the moment he decided to punish a man. His way of feeding his crocodiles with the men who would oppose him remains one of the scariest tactics used by any Bollywood villain ever. Another intelligent villain that the 80's witnessed was Dr. Dang. After playing a retired man in Saransh mourning for his dead son, this role added to the versatility of Anupam Kher.

Not a year had passed when Indian cinema saw another super-villain and this one is the man who comes to any Indian mind the moment a person thinks of the word villain; yes, it is Mogambo (Amrish Puri). This widely feared and evil-brained, Satan of a man can give any other villain a run for his money. His obsession with power and the inability to remember his own minions (causing Mr. India to win) is legendary.

The late 80's and the 90's did not particularly see character driven roles such as Shakaal or Mogambo but there was still Crime master Gogo (Shakti kapoor); this one just cracks me up with his hillarious catch phrases, one of them being "Aankhein nikaal ke gotiyan khelunga". He was evil with a hint of cuteness. And if we need to be reminded of pure evil, Kancha Cheena in Aneepath and Katya in Ghatak played by Danny Denzongappa are pretty convincing examples. Also, Gokul (Ashutosh Rana) the postman in Dushman can be hired for the job if we are head hunting for extremely scary villains. He was not dressed in fancy outfits; almost broke but with the extraordinary ability to scare the off screen women as well. Gulshan Grover gained the tag of Badman due to his villainous performances in movies like Mohra, International Khiladi, Raam Lakhan, Khiladiyon ke khiladi etc. His eccentric style of speaking with at least one pet dialogue in every film like "Maya teri toh palat dunga main Kaya" and "Badman" that his character is in love with.

The same era saw Rahul (Shahrukh Khan), the fatally obsessive lover who would go to any extent to win the heart of the love of his life. He played a similar role in Anjaam. Baazigar too was a film in which he played the villain and impressed the audiences by trying to avenge the death of his father and sister and a deranged mother. And unlike other actors who were trapped in the image of a villain for most of their career, these were Shahrukh's only films in which he played a villain, that is if we don't count Duplicate where he played both the good guy and the bad guy and Don makes a different case for itself altogether.

With the end of the 90's somewhere the typical hero v/s villain era came to an end; meaning, Gabbar and Mogambo were now a thing of the past. The power of the actor exceeded the importance of the character. The type of movies that have the proper hero-villain chemistry are either remakes of old classics or remakes of south-indian classics or remakes of hollywood action flicks. Having said that, I only mean that there is a lesser possibility of having a proper villain in the film; there might be a negative role but the chances of a proper villain are bleak. Kritika Tandon, a huge fan of popular hindi cinema says, "Villains are equally important in our popular Hindi cinema as heroes. We, as audience, have grown up watching the two pillars of good and evil being created in these films. We are losing such formats, in the sense that now anyone is made a villain because (s)he has become less important than the hero. Sometimes the need of a typical villain is not even felt as mainstream actors/heroes play such grey roles themselves."

Villain centric movies like the Dhoom series are majorly called villain centric because of the stars that played the negative role and the amount of attention they received. The characters were not entirely evil without any ounce of care in their minds but with feelings and probably with a bit of regret. Roles like that of Dr. Asthana (Boman Irani in Munnabhai, MBBS) provide a new dimension to the concept of villains in bollywood. In fact from one point of view, the man wasn't a villain at all; all he was trying to do was protect his daughter from a man he considered not worthy enough to marry her. If anything, the "hero" was more violent which is traditionally the job of the villain.

The presence of a villain in a film these days has become highly situational and somehow the lines between the hero and the villain are blurring. There are no extremes, no black and white. It is just more subtle now.

Bollywood has become synonymous to entertainment in India. The job of the villain is to make this happen; create problems, take the story to a new level, intrigue, scare or at times humor the audience. He gives hero the chance to be looked as the "hero". The action, the drama, the suspense; villain gives it all.

About:  A Journalism student from Delhi University. Simple. Happy.


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