Bollywood's bad boys rule the roost

Sep 3, 2006

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) From Gabbar Singh, who sprung out of the confines of Ramesh Sippy's "Sholay" to assume a life of his own in the nation's collective consciousness, to Munnabhai, a goon out to have fun even as he has his way with the world, screen bad boys continue to have a blast at the marquees.

And the party will increase the crescendo with Hindi film industry's biggest star Shah Rukh Khan set to appear on silver screen as the biggest don of them all in Farhan Akhtar's "Don - The Chase Begins", a remake of director Chandra Barot's 1978 hit by the same name.

The hero in Bollywood has continued to epitomise the do-gooder Hindu mythological character of Ram. In fact, in today's time and age only a superhero can be as good as the conventional hero of bygone era. But when it came to sketching the character of his antitheist, adherence to set notions has never applied.

The characterisation of the perfect foil of a conventional hero has varied -- some are unrepentantly dark, some have justification and shades of grey.

Off late, the bad boys of Bollywood are usually misguided conman, who charm their way into people's hearts. The latest is Sanjay Dutt as Munnabhai, someone who heads a gang even as he spreads pearls of wisdom.

With one masterstroke director Raju Hirani seems to have found a magic wand to cure contemporary India's boiling pot of problems.

In this Friday's release, "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" ('Carry on Munna Bhai'), he attempts to explain Gandhisms to today's generation in a whole new light.

The film comes three years after the super success of "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.", in which the floundering oversized gang lord entered a hospital and went on to cure people with laughter and love.

The surprising freshness of the sequel has ensured that a third instalment would be just as welcomed.

The image of bad boys of Bollywood has undergone a sea change. Not long before Munnabhai and "Bunty Aur Babli", Ram Gopal Varma's "D", saw bad boy as an average, brooding young man who epitomised baddies in Bollywood. It was a far cry from the mad Mogambo of "Mr. India" wanting to take on the world.

A Gabbar Singh of "Sholay" or Mastana in "Bombay Boys" were the archetypal filmi bad guy, a throwback to the villains of old and over-the-top characters, who were 100 percent bad.

Amrish Puri as Mogambo in "Mr. India", Anupam Kher as Dr. Dang in "Karma" and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Shakaal in "Shaan" were larger than life and pure evil.

While there had been the grey character in many old films played by lead actors like Dev Anand in "Baazi" and "Jaal", Raj Kapoor in "Shri 420", Amitabh Bachchan in "Deewar" -- there was no doubt what they did was bad and they repent before accepting punishment.

In the 1990s, the heroes took over the villain's part as ruthless terrorists, or bloodthirsty gangsters, but always with a reason to justify their act, said trade watcher Deepa Gahlot.

Even in Ram Gopal Varma's string of mob movies, the message going out is villains are not really bad people, they are misled youth who are destined to meet a bad end.

Contemporary filmmakers are moving into a new direction where they are portraying two sides of every character and letting people make the value judgment on who is 'bad' and who is 'good'.

The death of the mythical villain is also linked to the impact of media and cable TV on the life of the ticket-buying Indian. Instant news and investigative journalism removed most of the mystique surrounding the corrupt politician and the bad cop. No one can really fear a character you have read about in an evening tabloid.

The perception of mobsters has also changed significantly. Hating the villain and rejoicing over his death at the hands of the do-gooder, has now been replaced with a stage where criminals enjoy respectability and social acceptability.

Then there were a whole string of Robin Hood-like characters. A breed that Munnabhai belongs to and it seems the audience cannot get enough of him and his comic sidekick Circuit, played by Arshad Warsi.

Before year-end, Shah Rukh Khan will be seen lending glamour and respectability to the mobster in "Don". From being the hated villain, the gangster has crossed the rubicon to become a hero. In case of Munnabhai and Circuit, much loved goons.


With "Lage Raho Munnabhai" hitting the box-office bull's-eye close on the heels of another sequel - "Phir Hera Pheri", speculation is rife who will come out with part three first.

According to news reports, Anees Bazmee who directed hit comic caper "No Entry" has been approached by producer Firoz A. Nadiadwala to direct third instalment of "Hera Pheri". The film will be made under the banner of Base Industries Group.

The three stars -- Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal -- will continue to enact pivotal roles in the third series of the comic caper.


"Phir Hera Pheri" has got one of its character actors Milind Gunaji, who also had a small but noticeable part in "Devdas", international attention. Reports say he has got three Hollywood projects.

He has been signed by Walk Tall Production, Birmingham, for "Veiled Existence" for which shooting will start in Sep end and will be completed in a month. Milind is among the three main lead actors.

The second film is Hollywood director Roland Jofee's "Singularity" for which only two Indian actors have been cast. Milind stars opposite none other than Aishwarya Rai. The story is based on Indian history and will be shot in India.

The third is an Indo-French production of Fusion Features called "Rasleela" directed by Sarat Chandra, reports say.

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