Readers Choice: Bollywood's best action films
We don't make as many action movies anymore, but the genre is definitely making a comeback post Ghajini. Ajay Devgn's Singham hits theatres this Friday, but before we see what he can do, we asked you, dear readers, [link to messageboard] to pick your favourite Bollywood action films of all time.
The result is a pretty striking list. You will all disagree with each other in the comments section below, no doubt, but I say pat yourselves on the back because these are ten films that are either impressive examples of the genre or just very enjoyable ones. (Except number 10, that is.) Anyway, here we go:
It might not have been one of the most violent films on this list, but several of you loved Prabhudeva's Wanted, one of the biggest hits of 2009. A remake of Telugu hit Pokiri, it starred Salman Khan in the lead role as the wisecracking lout later revealed as a supercop.
Khan, liberated by his larger-than-life persona, threw punches that unrealistically felled dozens, but this film works because of the madness, not despite it.
Image: A still from Wanted
9. Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi
Possibly the film where Akshay Kumar's Khiladi status pushed him the most in terms of physicality, this Umesh Mehra superhit took a classical narrative, threw in an unlikely but effective female villain in the form of Rekha, and added in some WWF wrestlers at a time the sport was pretty popular in India.
The results remain for all to see, and the scenes featuring Akshay battling The Undertaker were a blast, even if it wasn't the real Undertaker.
Image: Stills from Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi
Few men can play wrestlers with hearts of gold, but Sunny Deol can do it without blinking and we'll buy it every time. In this Rajkumar Santoshi film, Deol watches crime lord Danny Dengzongpa feudalize an oppressed colony and, struck by their helplessness and Dengzongpa's cruelty, vows to put an end to the abuse meted out to them.
A fine actioner, this should also be remembered as Meenakshi Seshadri's last film.
Image: A still from Ghatak
In this 1985 film by Rahul Rawail, one of the directors he'd go on to work with the most, Sunny Deol plays a very fresh-faced young man hunting vainly for a job. He and his friends end up solving problems for helpless people, until a dastardly politician involves Arjun as part of his own muscle for nefarious gains.
A gripping film, yes, made special by the music by R D Burman and Deol's chemistry with Dimple Kapadia.
Image: Movie poster of Arjun
In terms of plot, this was the highest point of Ram Gopal Varma's filmography. Jaideep Sahni's screenplay fictionalised the gang-wars of Mumbai in the not-so-recent past, with Ajay Devgan taking on a Dawood-like role while debutant Vivek Oberoi played a version of Chhota Rajan.
The film, exploring a young man's rise up the criminal ranks before becoming part of an intense rivalry, is a fantastic achievement and ranks right up there as one of the best crime films we've ever made.
Image: A still from Company
So does this one, of course. RGV might have made many films before and since, but this 1998 movie will remain his legacy. Written by Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap, with music by Vishal Bhardwaj and featuring an incendiary performance from Manoj Bajpai, this was a film that birthed or highlighted many a cinematic sensation.
A heartbreaking rumination on Bombay, Satya was primarily a profane punch to the gut, that knocked the wind out of us. Wow.
Image: A still from Satya
Yash Chopra's Deewar, an intense, amazing and pathbreaking work that shattered conventional rules in many ways, probably makes it to this list simply because of the great fight scenes involving Amitabh Bachchan in lethally good flow.
Playing a character based on iconic smuggler Haji Mastan, Bachchan shone in this film, one that cemented his Angry Young Man status and made it a tag that stuck on forever.
Of all the Salim-Javed scripts made by Yash Chopra, this one is arguably the best.
Image: A still from Deewar
If other films had broken boundaries and new ground, this one obliterated Hindi cinema's definition of violence, smashing convention to bloody smithereens.
Ram Gopal Varma made Shiva in Telugu first in 1989, but just a year later the Hindi version was out, with Nagarjuna still in the lead, and the national audience was left gobsmacked and reeling. A vicious, visceral film about student politics, Shiva pulled no punches and those it threw were coated in cycle-chains.
A mega film, and a turning point in Hindi cinema.
Image: A still from Shiva
Of course. There is so much in Ramesh Sippy's magnum opus from Comedy to Drama to Romance that the masterpiece could perhaps win a slot deservedly on each list of top genre films.
Having said that, kudos to you, dear readers, for remembering that it was primarily an actioner, a massive-scale film about mercenary outlaws, a former policeman thirsting for revenge, and a dacoit so fantastically memorable we don't even have to take his name to feel chills down our spine.
Image: A still from Sholay
In the end, Sunny Deol wins. He might be the nice guy, the sweetly smiling simple fellow who never wants to strike someone and certainly not throw the first punch but when provoked, he reacts like a snarling lion, walloping everyone in sight with extreme believability.
Deol's punches feel real, and perhaps never more emphatic than in this Rajkumar Santoshi blockbuster about a young man wronged again and again until he decides to avenge himself with blood.
Image: A still from Ghayal