Bollywood villains: Transition from scary scoundrels to next door simpletons

For years, Bollywood had been following a simple pattern of stories, with appearance of actors to match their characters. The heroes were meant to look chocolatey though tough, heroines were to look dainty, and villains had to be tough and macho men with scary faces and menacing expressions. Yet, these bad guys had to fall at the first punch from the heroes.

These villains, or the bad men/women, had a quintessential manner of speaking, with expressions that defined evil in caps. Remember Shashikala, Bindu, Lalita Powar, or even the likes of Pran, Ranjeet, and Gulshan Grover? Who can forget the most iconic of all, Amjad Khan as ‘Gabbar Singh’ from ‘Sholay’? The earlier decades in Indian cinema comprised of mostly evil parents-in-laws or relatives, who made the protagonists, cower in fear due to their sheer cruelty.

Then came the time, when we were a tad too influenced by the western villains. The traditional evil mother-in-law, or the conspiring brother-in-law were replaced by ‘Shakaal’ and ‘Mogambo’, who were modern, and had sadistic and royal ways of taking their revenge. Not to forget their universal hatred for poor and needy.

The 90s saw the rise of one actor who was introduced in the Indian cinema as the typical stuttering stalker, the nightmare of every girl, none other than Shah Rukh Khan, in Yashraj’s ‘Darr’. Thereafter, he donned the hat of a villain in movies like ‘Anjaam’ and ‘Baazigar’, and pulled it off with an equally scary panache. The villain in Bollywood was coming of age. The character was no longer a scary looking one, but someone who could be anywhere around you, maybe even a lover.

But, the best was yet to come. Forget reality TV serials that tell us crimes happening all over the country, a simple insurance agent or cable operator can also be a criminal. If you don’t believe us, just watch ‘Kahaani’s Bob Biswas, who with his eerie smile was scarier than all the villains in Bollywood combined. Or take a look at Riteish Deshmukh’s character in the movie ‘Ek Villain’. The bad guys have come guised in the form of good guys. Even the recent stint by Nawazuddin Siddiqui in ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ had us cowering in fear, realizing how dangerous a simple looking man can be.

The Hindi movie villain is growing now. He or she is no longer the same dangerous looking person with a personality that can run shudders through your being. Welcome the new age bad guys, with a smile that can assure you that you are safe, when you might be their next victim.

Kudos to the actors who have managed to pull off the feat well. The ones who do the act of stabbing one through the heart, with the smile of an angel. From scary scoundrels, now next-door simpletons are the one to be scared of. These are the villains of today’s Bollywood.