Who’d imagine Shah Rukh Khan, who started off as Bollywood’s quintessential bad guy in his earlier succesful films like Darr and Baazigar would become India’s favourite romantic hero. But the star’s transition from playing characters with dark shades to those emoting love through rose-tinted glasses was effortless. And on the other hand, there are actors who started off as the perfect ladies’ man in the ’80 and the ’90s but currently prefer to experiment with their roles, playing negative characters every now and then with elan...
’80s hits: Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
Debut as a villain: Gulaab Gang (2013)
Switch: It’s a bit difficult to imagine this bubbly actress in a vamp-like mode. However, the 45-year-old has taken upon herself the challenge of essaying an evil lady in her upcoming Gulaab Gang while Madhuri Dixit is playing the protagonist. The new millennium saw her reducing her movie assignments and eventually settling down in 2007. In the past few years, she has been mostly noticed in maternal avatars.
’80s hits: Rocky, Vidhaata, Naam
Debut as a villain: Khalnayak (1993)
Switch: Though the lanky actor made an early entry into the pantheon of actors who could carry off negative roles efficiently, his early years were spent playing macho characters. The eccentric Ballu in Khalnayak followed by the insomniac Raghu in Vaastav during the fag end of last millennium were the high points. Later, Kaante and Musafir too showcased his brilliance but Kancha Cheena in Agneepath put him in an altogether different league.
’80s hits: Prem Rog, Saagar, Chandni
Debut as a villain: Agneepath (2012)
Switch: After playing safe with chocolate-boy roles for decades, the veteran actor flipped the coin with Karan Johar’s ambitious remake. His portrayal of Rauf Lala was as vicious as it could get. No wonder he was flooded with scripts expecting him to don such characters and he did so ably in D Day recently. For the record, he played a double role - one of whom was quite wicked - in Bol Radha Bol in the early ’90s.
’80s hits: Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan
Debut as a villain: Swamidada (1982)
Switch: Apparently, Jaggu dada was keen on portraying negative roles in his early years as an actor but his association with Subhash Ghai charted a rather different course for him. As luck would have it, he was seldom seen in an evil shade except in popular movies like Mission Kashmir and Eklavya. What’s interesting though is that his next two releases - Happy New Year and Zaalim Dilli - showcase him in villainous roles.
’80s hits: Shaukeen, Ghar Ek Mandir, Jaal
Debut as a villain: Jallaad (1994)
Switch: There aren’t many actors around who can boast of the kind of film releases the original ‘disco dancer’ received in his career. However, he’s rarely seen playing a harsh character. But his critical performance in Jallaad won him several awards for a negative role. One of the busiest actors in B-Town, Mithun was last seen donning an evil role in OMG: Oh My God!, was suitably rewarded with rave reviews.
’80s hits: Ilzaam, Love 86, Hatya
Debut as a villain: Kill Dill (2014)
Switch: In the past few years, this particular actor has been written off at a regular interval but he appears determined to prove others wrong. About to make his comeback in a negative role (for the first time) in Aditya Chopra’s Kill Dil, Govinda is said to be back in shape and raring to go. There’s a strong buzz doing the rounds that this movie will finally do to his career what Mani Ratnam’s Raavan couldn’t.
Negative role models
Leading actors who played villains in recent times...
Akshay Kumar: The flamboyant Mr Khiladi played the take-no-prisoner mafia in Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara.
Arshad Warsi: was at his rustic best in the role of will-do-anything-for-money gangster in Zila Ghaziabad.
Manoj Bajpai: has been seen in a slew of movies where he played an uncompromising villain, most recently being Gangs of Wasseypur.
Aamir Khan: is all set to portray a full-fledged negative character for the first time in his career in the upcoming Dhoom 3.
Sonu Sood: was the antagonist to Salman Khan’s corrupt hero in the uber-successful Dabanng. He followed the act in Shootout At Wadala.
Moves and movies
Some actors who started out as heroes only to turn villians (or vice-versa) in their later films…
Pran: Though he’s referred to as the quintessential villain of Hindi cinema, he started off his career as a leading hero. It was only after Partition that he had to switch to negative roles and play second fiddle to established stars like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor in the 1950s.
Lalita Pawar: She made the saas look heinous long before TV soaps took over. What’s little known though is she used to portray heroines in Marathi films before an accident on the sets left her with an eye injury.
Vinod Khanna: The good-looking hunk made his debut in Sunil Dutt’s Man Ka Meet as a villain. He did something similar in films like Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Aan Milo Sajna before bagging his solo lead hero role in Hum Tum Aur Woh.
Shatrugan Sinha: Long before ‘Khamosh’ became his trademark dialogue, Mr Shotgun was comfortable portraying villainous roles in films like Khilona, Mere Apne, Bombay to Goa, Blackmail and Gambler. Subhash Ghai’s Kaalicharan was his first solo superhit.
Mehmood: In the ongoing era where comedians are almost absent in Hindi films, Mehmood’s contribution merits a special mention. Besides, he started off as a child actor and then as lead actors with minimum success. Known for his comedy, he also dabbled in negative roles with Gumnaam, Ziddi and Dil Tera Diwana. An all-rounder.