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Vote! Your favourite Bollywood don!

Last updated on: June 16, 2011 13:08 IST

Vote! Your favourite Bollywood don!

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Shaikh Ayaz in Mumbai

It may not have become a talking point yet but with Dharmendra playing a don in wife Hema Malini's Tell Me Oh Khuda, it naturally offers us an opportunity to revisit the best mafia characters played by actors of all age and range.

Of course, playing a crime boss gives actors meat, material and substance and in most cases, can turn out to be their career-top performance. Most Bollywood dons have been inspired by the real-life mobsters frequently leading one to ask the question, "Is it the movies that imitate mafia or is it the other way round?

Whatever the case, here's your chance to vote for your favourite don in Bollywood.

Shah Rukh Khan in Don

Purists complained the new Don had more style than substance but it's equally true that if there's any actor who could have played one in a remake it was Shah Rukh Khan.

Divested of his trademark charm, SRK essayed the role with cold casualness. His don isn't menacing but has a presence that only few actors could have brought to the screen.

This don is an internationalist, drives around Paris and plays golf on the beach. He is more glamorous than his predecessors and if he's to be believed, the greatest misfortune his adversaries have is by being put up against him.


Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Don

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Amitabh Bachchan in Don, Deewaar and Agneepath

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There can never be another operator like Vijay. In Don, he's hard-hearted, means business and effortlessly dapper in his dress code.

Yash Chopra's classic Deewaar depicts him as a boy growing up under difficult circumstances, reaching the top on the mean streets and finally meeting a fate that most of us still disagree with. In the much-later Agneepath, in all-whites, Big B puts up yet another remarkable show.

Here, Vijay is accustomed to power, lords over an empire built rather meticulously but never shown yet there's a certain generosity Vijay hides behind those blood-red eyes. Which is why the dons played by Bachchan has no equal in India.

Image: Amitabh Bachchan in Don

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Ajay Devgn in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and Company

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He enjoys mafia film, he announced recently. It is little wonder then that some of Ajay's best performances belong to the genre of crime and violence.

With his brooding looks, he's perhaps better suited to play a don than any other actor. Ajay's dons are more real than glamour-struck. He plays them straight and exploits his intense appeal to the fullest. Of course, most directors, including Ram Gopal Varma who directed him in Company and Milan Luthria in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, often cash in on the fact that Ajay's mafia films are generally well-received.

However, a word of caution: what has become Ajay's trademark can also in no time turn into repetition.

Image: Ajay Devgn in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai

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Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav

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Raghu possibly suffers from schizophrenia and megalomania. One or the other, Or both. Director Mahesh Manjrekar sticks to the local goon-dom, evoking the Maharashtrian underworld setting.

For most part it looks like all Raghu aspires for is a happy life and his notion of happiness is a job, marriage and family life. However, these are the very pleasures he misses out on. A chance encounter with an unruly pack of ruffians brings out the beast in him.

As he gets deeply entrenched into the world of crime he becomes more and more driven, ruthless and self-centred. In a scene that seems a conscious tribute to Deewaar, Raghu's mother seizes control of him, eventually relieving him of his worldly duties.

Image: Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav

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Emraan Hashmi in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai

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A glib-happy homage to the 1970s nexus between mafia and Bollywood, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai has another crowd-pleasing performance; by Emraan Hashmi who for some reason gets the best dialogue in the film.

The line in question, 'Zindagi ho to smuggler jaisi, saari duniya raakh ki tarah neeche aur khud dhuen ki tarah upar', earned the most applause.  As the starry-eyed Shoaib, Emraan moves up sharply in a local gang and is blinded so much by money and power that he loses any trace of civility he ever possessed.

Image: Emraan Hashmi in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai

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Manoj Bajpai in Satya

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It's one of the rare times when an intended supporting character walks away with the limelight. Bhiku Mhatre's shadow lies heavily over Satya.

In possibly the best gangster film of our times, Bajpai does full justice to his role as the Maharashtrian crime lord whose shenanigans often draw laughter but when his inner most demons possess him he can kill a man without any remorse. That said, Bhiku has a great sense of family but seems so ingrained in his dirty job that he cannot and does not wish to get out of it.

For, he has another family to support: the family that comprises his gang members.

Image: Manoj Bajpai in Satya

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Pankaj Kapur in Maqbool

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The paan-chewing Abbaji looks like an out-of-business shayar. Who would say he's the head of a powerful mafia family? He has all the traits of King Duncan, the sensitive father from Macbeth, the Shakespearean classic on which the film is based.

There's a sense of menace in Abbaji's den. As a character, he's polite, very generous with his family but when his voice rises, it frightens you, especially in the scene in which he tells the cop, "Miyan gilauri khaya karo, zabaan qaaboo mein rehti hai."

A magnificent case study in acting, Pankaj Kapur shows the way on how to play a gentle don without coming across as intimidating.

Image: Pankaj Kapur in Maqbool

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Vivek Oberoi in Rakta Charitra I and II

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Mixing politics with mafia, Ram Gopal Varma's bilingual drama uses lines from Mahabharata and Mahatma Gandhi to justify its means and ends.

It marks Vivek's return to good performances, a throwback to the times he made a promising start with Company. As Ravi in an anarchic land where politics-meets-violence, Vivek is at the centre of a murky saga of revenge.

With his moustache-tilak look, hair pulled back and garbed in pristine white, Vivek resuscitates his falling career with this intense performance.

Image: Vivek Oberoi in Rakta Charitra I

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Nana Patekar in Parinda

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Some performances stay with you while you forget the film in which they appeared. For all its cult status, Parinda is an amateurish look at the underworld. It may have lit up the screen during its time but when re-viewed it doesn't match up to the timeless quality of, say Satya or Maqbool.

Yet, Anna played by Nana (frequently cited amongst his best role) keeps you hooked. One still remembers the fire scene and Nana's spontaneous reaction which became his trademark after that. The crazy Anna lifts up the film considerably.

Image: Nana Patekar in Parinda

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Danny Denzongpa in Hum

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Possibly the most under-rated performance in Hum, considering there were towering stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth and Govinda, Danny is such a fine actor that he didn't have to vie for attention.

His Bakhtawar still sends a chill down your spine. Watch out for the climax scene in which Bakhtawar confronts Tiger, seizes the remote to a bomb and in a moment of rare sensitivity, bellows in agony, "Kya bigaada tha meri biwi ne tumhara. Kya bigaada tha meri nanhi bacchiyon ne tumhara. Kya dushmani thi tumhari unse?

Image: Danny Denzongpa in Hum

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Amrish Puri in Mr India

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Like Danny, Amrish Puri blessed us with one of his greatest performances in this Shekhar Kapur tragicomic classic. Pretty much everything has been said of Mogambo, that eccentric, terrorising crime figure created by Salim-Javed.

The capo crimine that Mogambo is, he operates out of a Xanadu that seems equipped with the most advanced, futuristic technology. Cries of Hail Mogambo fill the room every time he walks in.

There's no actor one can imagine as Mogambo except Amrish Puri. And that still ain't the best thing one could say about the late actor. He had much more to offer, and many more mesmerising performances. Mogambo is just one of them.

Image: Amrish Puri in Mr India

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Vote for your favourite don in Bollywood!

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