Monday 4 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 59

Bollywood Baddies
3.3.2013, Mumbai

In the satyug kaal there were the asurs and the devtas. Gradually

human beings took the form of the monster – sometimes for greed,
sometimes for power. In the olden days the villain was an extension of
Ravana and Kans but gradually as our films turned more realistic the
baddies evolved from the dacoit, don to a comedian.

Bollywood Baddies is the first-of-its-kind book-length narrative of villainy in Hindi films. It discusses villains, vamps, and henchmen of Hindi cinema, and also the actors who essayed such characters over the decades. Author Tapan K Ghosh, who is the former head, Department of English of Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata discusses not just
villains but also the evaluation of villainous characters vis-à-vis
socio political conditions in the country.

The narrative begins with Ashok Kumar’s negative role in Kismet as early as 1943, and travels to  Agneepath remake (2012), where Sanjay Dutt plays Kancha Cheena, earlier essayed by Danny Denzongpa in the original portrays the character in a more evil form. Featuring all the major villains of cinema post partition from Lala Sukhiram (Mother India) to Gabbar (Sholay) to Loin Ajit (Kalicharan) and Mogambo (Mr. India), the book introduces changing face of negative hero over the decades.

The villain in Indian films is largely powerful because of his
henchmen as a result the writer makes startling observations about the
henchmen and the vamps that play a prominent role in the journey of
the baddie. So there are insights on M B Shetty, Sharat Saxena,
Nadira, Bindu, Helen, their distant relatives who form a coterie of
the villains’ empire. There is no denying his power and passion and it
is because he is so evil that the hero becomes virtuous and without
the villain the lead star would not have the opportunity to become

Published by Sage with a Foreword from ace villain Prem Chopra is an
engrossing read and a must for every film buff because it addresses
all the questions we are seeking answers for. It is interesting how
the baddie has evolved himself from the zamindar/ baniya to
daku/dacoit to the smuggler and the terrorist.  The book arrives at a
time when we are attempting to look at the human face behind the
terrorists in Ram Gopal Varma’s The Attack of 26/11.

The question is should one empathise with the oppressor who is a mere
tool in the hands of the bigger game as in the case of 20 year old
Qasaab who was made to believe that Islam forgives killing if it is
for the country.

Bollywood Baddies is an insightful book on why baddies are the way
they are and do what they do.

Bhawana Somaaya/www.

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