The villain has been an integral part of Indian cinema. Whether as a balm to our frustrations, or to appease the brute in us, the antagonist is the perfect bashing boy for our alter ego. Let’s see the best of them
Only one name comes to the mind when one wants to name the world’s most evil man — that of Gabbar Singh. Portrayed by Amjad Khan in the iconic Sholay, the character was so successful in projecting wickedness that it went on to become the cornerstone of villainy. Despite big names like Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar, and Hema Malini and Jaya Bhaduri, Amjad Khan stole the limelight in the movie.
One thing we learnt from Ajit is that the villain need not be ugly. This handsome man more than justified his good looks be starring as the second lead in movies like Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur. He brought in the nasty element to the characters he portrayed with a unique delivery of dialogues. The exaggerated nasal tone to ‘Mona darling’ and ‘smart boy’ made them so popular that they are easily the most repeated dialogues of Bollywood.
The earlier part of a long career saw Pran as the most hated villain in movie after movie. From blowing rings of cigarette smoke at the women to forcing himself on them, he did it all and with complete conviction. He turned into a character actor with Manoj Kumar’s Upkaar and enacted these roles with equal aplomb. At the peak of his career, he played the pivotal character in movies like Victoria No 203 and Chori Mera Kaam.
If there’s one name that can make a woman scurry for cover, it is Prem Chopra. His letchy look coupled with that yucky drooling paled only in comparison to the way he spoke to his victims. He was the Indian James Bond in the way he told his name, albeit with a sinister impact — Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra. He has acted in over 400 films like Teesri Manzil, Upkaar and Bobby.
A hardcore disciplinarian, few can embrace retirement when enjoying fame and fortune the way he did a few years back. From Kala Sona with Feroz Khan to Asoka with Shah Rukh and Seven Years in Tibet where he acted alongside Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, Danny has had a long and successful run. He was last seen in Enthiran with Rajnikanth. Need we say more of his staying prowess or popularity?
One person that could give a run for Gabbar Singh’s money is Mogambo. The character played by Amrish Puri in Mr India had the adults hating him and the children loving him. Versatility in his acting nurtured with exposure in theatre came easy to him as was seen in the positive roles he played in later movies. He attained international fame through Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
This Badman is most notable for his different hairdos — one more weird than the other. He is one of the earlier Indian actors who made it big in Hollywood movies. His most notable international achievement was the character of an Indian holy-man he played in the film Desperate Endeavours for which he won the Best Actor International at the New York film festival. Some of his movies are I Am Kalaam, Ram Lakhan and Criminal.
Many actors have immortalised one character in their chosen field of lead, villain or comedian. Anupam Kher has done that in not two but three characters if not more — one positive, the other negative and the third as a comedian. A retired grieving father in Saaransh, Dr Dang in Karma and comedian in a number of movies like Ram Lakhan, Lamhen and Darr to name a few. If that is not enough variety, add posts of chairman of the Censor Board and National School of Drama in India.
Recipient of national awards in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories, Prakash Raj is a fine natural actor. He acts in Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi movies. He also produces and directs movies. His production Mozhi (Tamil) was a box-office hit and praised by critics. Picking his best is not an easy job. Those who’ve seen him in Duet, Iruvar, Kanchivaram, Pokiri or Okkadu will understand this dilemma.
His is versatility of another kind. Few can match the range of his achievements: an engineering graduate, Mr India pageant participant, big hits in different language movies — Arundhati in Telugu, which turned out to be the biggest hit of that year, Jodha Akbar and Dabangg in Hindi, a Kannada hit with Sudeep, Only Vishnuvardhana, and currently working with none other than Rajnikanth in Rana… phew!