Dr Rajiv Vijayakar

A famous villain once remarked, "In Hindi cinema, there are only two roles of consequence, one of the hero, and the other of a villain."

Every artiste tries and explores both these avenues. The catch is that while villains usually lack the requisites to become a hero, the hero has no such shackles if he wants to play a negative character.

Besides rare exceptions like Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha, not everyone could make the transition to a hero.

Among the heroines, Mumtaz evolved from comedian-vamp to heroine roles, but almost every hero and many heroines have attempted grey or even all-black characters.

It is easier for popular actors to woo masses and get support from writers and filmmakers. He can also execute the kind and extent of his villainy -- creating a double role is the clever excuse for playing both good and bad characters in one film. Thus, it is the ideal opportunity to display an actor's full range without tarnishing his 'heroic' screen image.

One of the earliest actors to play the 'anti-hero' was Ashok Kumar. Witness his dark act in Kismat (1943), double role of both hero and villain in Afsana (1951) and it's variations in Kanoon (1961).

Dilip Kumar in Footpath, Dev Anand in Dushman and Munimji and Raj Kapoor in Bewafa also played such roles.

Waheeda Rehman began her career as a criminal's moll in C.I.D. (1958). Rajendra Kumar played a cad in Zindagi (1964), while Dharmendra was the obsessed lover in Ayee Milan Ki Bela the same year, and Sunil Dutt the out-and-out blackguard in Mother India (1957) and the wayward paramour in Gumrah (1963).

Despite sporadic attempts by many popular stars, playing the good guy over a bad one always gained more importance.

However, in the the early nineties, thanks to Shah Rukh Khan and his trilogy,(Baazigar, Darr, Anjaam) playing a negative character achieved greater fame and recognition.

Playing an ambitious meanie was Aftab in Kasoor, a film that clicked despite the fact that the heroine kills the hero in the end. Urmila garnered a fair amount of urban sympathy as she played the obsessed lover in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, wrecking the hero's love life and even trying to kill his wife. One of the twins in Abhay, played by Kamal Haasan, was a psychopath. The deadly duo of Akshay Kumar-Bipasha Basu were ruthlessly and unapologetically mercenary as the shameless schemers of Ajnabee.

2002 sees the character of Dushyant (Sanjay Kapoor), a spoilt rich brat who makes life hell for his young wife and mother in Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe. Raveena Tandon is all set to play a chilling negative role in Waah Tera Kya Kehna, and even Bachchan packs a mean punch in Aankhen.

Obsessed lover, wicked twin, psycho on the run, victim of circumstances, or simply devilish, the stars continue their trysts with evil in Hindi cinema.

Here's taking a look at the best baddies over the years:


Amitabh Bachchan (Parwana, Deewaar, Aks)
He walked away with all the sympathy in Parwana.

After realising that he has lost his girl to another man, Bachchan devilishly plots and executes the murder of her uncle and frames the object of her affection.

Bachchan's perfect portrayal of a disturbed and vindictive loser who proved that hate was the Aks (reflection) of love.

Needless to say, had Bachchan failed to make it as a hero, he could have easily been one of cinema's classic villains.

Deewaar was another 'negative' milestone in the Bachchan oeuvre (which also included negative halves in twin-Bachchan enterprises like Bandhe Haath, Don, Satte Pe Satta, Bemisal, Aakhri Raasta, Adalat and Desh Premi).

His characters also took an evil turn in Gehri Chaal and Aks.


Shah Rukh Khan (Baazigar, Darr, Anjaam, Duplicate)
At the onset of his career, SRK dared to take on the negative character mantle in not one but three films. The audiences loved him playing the bad guy to the hilt.

Even as the BO fortunes of his later candyfloss romances soon established him as the mushy romantic guy-next-door, Shah Rukh being Shah Rukh did the conventional dual act later too, in Mahesh Bhatt's Duplicate.

What stayed on in one's memory from the film was SRK's stylised and over-the-top Mannu.


Sanjay Dutt (Vaastav)
Deadly Dutt Junior has essayed several grey characters (Naam, Khal-Nayak, Jung) before.

However, it was his stark helplessness in Vaastav that stayed on in the viewer's psyche.

As a lower middle-class Maharashtrian who got enrolled in the world of crime and couldn't find his way out, Sanjay Dutt skillfully showcased the trauma of a criminal who had not really wanted to be one.


Kajol (Gupt)
Sheer brilliance! There's simply no other way to describe Kajol's electryifying performance in Gupt.

A strong script laid a rock-solid foundation to her character.

Kajol's superb act that was a perfect mix of cerebration and spontaneity making Gupt a milestone in the genre of suspense and thiller films.


Sridevi (Judaai)
She wasn't after blood, had no weapons, committed no legal crime.

She simply wanted money so desperately that she didn't mind selling off her husband to a rather keen buyer.

A scathing indictment of today's consumerist culture, Judaai succeeded in bringing out a class act from Sridevi as the misguided woman who sends her conscience on a long holiday, with near disastrous results.

Sridevi truly looked, felt and lived the role.


Rajesh Khanna (Saccha Jhutha)
Within months of achieving superstardom as a romantic icon, superstar Rajesh Khanna took a huge risk by accepting Saccha Jhutha.

As the saccha he was the rural bumpkin, but as the jhutha he played a ruthless criminal with style and subtle menace.

One of the highlights of the film was his wry repentance in the climax.

His superlative performance was rewarded with accolades and awards.


Rishi Kapoor (Khoj)
Throughout Khoj, Rishi Kapoor was the obviously harassed, devoted, husband searching for his missing wife.

Surprise, surprise! Rishi turns out to be his wife's cold-blooded killer.

As a villain without any excuses for his negativity, Rishi delivered a punch-packed performance.

Unfortunately, this gripping thriller failed to create any ripples at the BO.


Ashok Kumar (Jewel Thief)
Shatrughan Sinha may have wooed the front benchers by bashing up the heroes, but Indian cinema is yet to witness a villain as charming and suave as the Late. Ashok Kumar in Jewel Thief.

Even after he gets arrested in the climax, his geniality and sense of humor never leaves him.

Clearly Vijay Anand knew that Dadamoni had exceptional acting material, and explored it to the fullest to etch out a memorable 'dark' portrayal.


Amrita Singh (Aaina)
When Aaina released, Amrita's innings as an actress were almost over.

Ironically this film proved that as an actress, Amrita had a lot more to deliver. The actress also shattered the myth that actresses tend to get a raw deal with age.

As the utterly spoilt, arrogant elder sister Roma who unleashes a storm in her humble younger sister's (played by Juhi Chawla) life, Amrita gave an award winning performance.

What's more? She won.


Sunil Dutt (Mother India)
Mother India is still considered one of the biggest successes among heroes playing blackguards.

Mainly for its cult success and Nargis epitomising Indian womanhood.

A mere struggler at that point of time Sunil Dutt had no set image or acting style.

Filmmaker Mehboob Khan used all these impediments to his advantage to fashion the unforgettable Birju - and ironically establish Dutt as a star.


Raj Babbar (Insaf Ka Tarazu)
Here was a creepy, obsessive creature who decides to punish a woman who pricked his ego,by raping her (Zeenat Aman) and her teenage sister (Padmini Kolhapure).

In his first major role itself, Babbar almost blew his chances of becoming a hero.

Hardly surprising, that when his career as a leading man proved short-lived, he reverted frequently to villainy (Daag-The Fire, Ziddi ).

Alas, the punch of a well-written role was sorely missing.


Mithun Chakraborty (Jallad)
Jallad- a Hindi remake of a Telegu potboiler reaffirmed Mithun Chakraborty's credentials as a talented actor fading in the sheer mediocrity of B-grade actioners.

In this dual role film, the elder Mithun, whose conscience simply does not exist, was an incarnate of evil.

His performance in the film won him a Filmfare trophy for Best Villain.


Nanda (Ittefaq)
Never mind if Urmila did a reprise in the Ram Gopal Varma rehash Kaun?, the original Yash Chopra quickie-Ittefaq remains an unforgettable experience.

In a compelling performance, Nanda chilled the then-conservative audiences as the lady who was cold-blooded enough to trap an innocent stranger for a crime that she had committed.


Shashi Kapoor (Haseena Maan Jayegi)
It was a rare challenge that Shashi Kapoor met head-on to reveal his formidable acting prowess.

Without the slightest difference in make-up, dress code or hairstyle, Shashi had to etch out a black and a white avtaar between two college students who were as alike as the proverbial peas in a pod.


Design: Uday Kuckian

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