Everyone loves the hero, but rarely, if ever, forgets the villain. The last few years have witnessed the rise of the anti-hero; he could be anybody, right from a weepy loser or creepy stalker to a corrupt cop, conman or gangster. However, in spite of their wobbly moral compass and despicable antics, many mean protagonists in Hindi films have been incredibly charismatic.
Indian Film History pulls out a list of actors who packed a punch with their portrayal of negative characters.
Vivek Oberoi played a gangster in ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’
Vivek Oberoi earned much appreciation for playing underworld gangster Maya Dolas in Apoorva Lakhia’s Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007). Maya, who worked for Dawood Ibrahim, was killed in an encounter during the 1991 Lokhandwala Complex shootout. Although the film had Sanjay Dutt as a cop, who pulls the trigger to kill Maya, Vivek stole the limelight with due credit to the layers of his character. His ability to play a gangster resulted in him getting more offers to play negative roles in films like Zila Ghaziabad, Jayantabhai Ki Luv Story and Krrish 3, all of which released in 2013.
Randeep Hooda as bikini killer Charles Sobhraj in ‘Main Aur Charles’
Randeep Hooda plays maverick serial killer Charles Sobhraj in Main Aur Charles. The actor seems just the ticket for the role. In last year’s Highway with Alia Bhatt, Randeep also had a negative role — a brute truck driver.
Ajay Devgn’s character, Sultan Mirza in the Milan Luthria-directed Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010) is believed to have been inspired by real-life don Haji Mastan. All through the film’s running time, Devgn wore a white shirt and trousers, something that is not quite fashionable. But, his overall persona was bewitching, especially his body language and impactful dialogue delivery. Although a gangster, Sultan’s character as the messiah of the lesser mortals (he helped them with money made out of smuggling) was admirable and endearing.
Emraan Hashmi’s character in the same film was also rumoured to have been modelled after underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, and the actor nailed it. The serial kisser of Bollywood was cast as Shoaib Khan and his dialogues became a rage. People still remember him mouthing “Raaste ki parwah karunga toh manzil bura maan jayegi” and “Zindagi ho toh smuggler jaisi… sari duniya raakh ki tarah neeche aur khud dhuen ke tarah upar”. Emraan did full justice to his role as one of the world’s most dreaded gangsters.
Shah Rukh Khan
There is Shah Rukh Khan, who portrayed a Gujarat-based bootlegger in Rahul Dholakia’s crime thriller, Raees. The film showcased SRK as “Baniye Ka Dimaag Aur Miyanbhai Ki Daring”. Surma in eyes, spectacles, a sexy stubble and dollops of attitude make the romance king of Bollywood look truly badass.
Akshay Kumar played Ajay Singh in Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26, which was based on the 1987 Opera House heist. In the thriller, the Khiladi played a conman, who, along with his accomplices, poses as a CBI officer and conducts raids at jewellery stores and politicians’ houses. The film had Anupam Kher and Jimmy Sheirgill as part of the fraud team and Manoj Bajpai as a cop struggling to bust Ajay Singh’s game plan. Never mind his anti-hero shenanigans, Akshay’s acting chops and stylish demeanour had the audience rooting for him.