Birthday Special: What are some of the most monstrous and memorable characters of Mukesh Rishi?

Updated: 19 April, 2020 08:14 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Mukesh Rishi has established his filmy career and fan-base by repeatedly pitying himself against the hero, and some of these roles have become immortal. Here are some of them!

Mukesh Rishi Picture Courtesy: YouTube
Mukesh Rishi Picture Courtesy: YouTube

It wouldn't be an easy task to make it to the list of some of the greatest and most memorable villainous characters of Hindi Cinema. There are a lot of actors that reveled in their fictional villainy. Right from Amjad Khan to Pran to Amrish Puri, they have been defined by their unforgettable roles that sent a chill down our spine and not very surprisingly, nearly overpowered the heroes of the films they were a part of. Another actor that comes close is Mukesh Rishi.

Rishi has a towering physicality, scary eyes, and a powerful baritone. He has everything one needs to be a chilling and cold-blooded antagonist. He may have seldom conquered the hero, he did have a great time playing those amoral roles that are still remembered today. On his birthday, it would surely be a treat for his fans and the films to look back at some of his best performances that can hardly be forgotten.

Here are some of them:

1. Gardish (1993)


Before Priyadarshan discovered he has a funny bone inside his body, he was the filmmaker that made rustic dramas that were high on action and intensity. Gardish was one such film that had a very different Jackie Shroff, an affectionate Amrish Puri, and a monstrous Mukesh Rishi. He played Billa, who locks horns with Puri and earns the wrath of his son. He wasn't present in the entire film, actually laid in the hospital bed gasping for breath. Just the mere thought of his return and the subsequent vengeance scares us and makes us feel sorry for the hero. Just his man-mountain persona was enough to be intimidated by his character.

2. Gunda (1998)


Kanti Shah's Gunda is a gift that keeps on giving. It's a film that's as entertaining as it's erratic. Over the years, film aficionados have discovered its unapologetic nature and classic one-liners. The actor essayed a very different kind of a villain, he was Bhulla, who rhymes all his dialogues for no rhyme or reason. In fact, the whole film was filled with such gems. Rishi and Shah should thank the Internet and the social media users that they didn't let the legacy of Gunda extinguish or evaporate so easily. Very few films enjoy the following Gunda has, and the makers would agree too!

3. Judwaa (1997)


It's easy for a character to make an impression as the villain in a serious, somber outing. To leave a mark in a farcical comedy and that too a David Dhawan enterprise needs an understanding of the craft. Here, Rishi was playing Tiger, who wants to avenge the death of his father at the hands of a police inspector who has given birth to a pair of twins separated at birth. This was vintage Manmohan Desai at its lunatic best! But unlike Dhawan's films that he made before, Judwaa wasn't funny from start to finish, it had shades of action and emotions, and of course, the villain's misdemeanours. As much as the film belonged to the two Salman Khans, let's also not forget- Ek Tha Tiger!

4. Sooryavansham (1999)


Sooryavansham and Set Max are a match made in heaven. They both are inseparable and arguably the most lethal and loyal duo ever! It was a film that was a commercial failure, but also that established a solid fan-base on television over the years. Here too, Rishi was the villain and yet again, pitied against two heroes- Amitabh Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan. We didn't see him do much action, apart from one combat scene in the climax, Sooryavansham was more words than action, but thanks to the plot and the performances, it has now become impossible to ignore it whenever it comes on the small screen.

5. Sarfarosh (1999)


The one thing the Hindi film industry needs to be blamed for, it's the herd mentality with which it functions. After the success of Gardish, it was nearly impossible for the filmmakers to think of any other role for Mukesh Rishi. Which is why John Matthew Matthan's Sarfarosh stands out in the actor's filmography! He played Inspector Salim, loyal to the core and ready to sacrifice everything for his nation. It still remains one of the most well-written and well-performed Muslim characters ever. It was neither cacophonous nor caricaturist. Unlike some of the hugest blockbusters that cannot escape from their jingoistic tones and problematic narratives, Sarfarosh and Salim managed to make an impact without dumbing the material down and showing how one can humanise such a character instead of ruining it with chest-thumping nationalism.

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First Published: 19 April, 2020 08:10 IST

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