Vote! Your favourite Bollywood don!
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
Amitabh Bachchan in Don, Deewaar and Agneepath
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
Ajay Devgn in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and Company
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
Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav
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
Emraan Hashmi in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai
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
Manoj Bajpai in 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
Pankaj Kapur in Maqbool
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
Vivek Oberoi in Rakta Charitra I and II
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
Nana Patekar in Parinda
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
Danny Denzongpa in Hum
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
Amrish Puri in Mr India
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