On Dussehra, these iconic villains remind us of ten different facets of evil

Mumbai: Antagonists in ‘Purush’, ‘Omkara’, ‘Agneepath’, ‘Vikram’, ‘Mr. India’, ‘K.G.F’, ‘Ra.One’, ‘Baahubali’, ‘Shaan’, and ‘Kanyadaan’ have redefined villainy

From Ramayana’s Ravana, Mahabharat’s Duryodhana, and Shakespeare’s Iago’, to famous screen villains like Mogambo, Shakaal, and Bhallaladeva, unforgettable antagonists have defined the true meaning of villainy since time immemorial. On Dussehra, which celebrates the victory of good over evil, we revisit characters who perfectly represent the ten facets of villainy.

Shaan (1980)
Soon after the success of ‘Sholay’, Ramesh Sippy directed ‘Shaan’, a crime caper with an antagonist modeled on Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a villain from the James Bond films. He is Shakaal (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), and he sits in a high-tech den, orchestrating life and death with a sly smile. He represents delusion and narcissism and doesn’t know that he cannot play God forever. The character also highlights that Ghrina (Hatred) can be a major cause of self-destruction. This was a film that is now considered ahead of its time, and Shakaal has become a cult figure as well. Watch Shaan on Amazon Prime.

Mr. India (1987)
“Mogambo khush hua,” is one of Hindi cinema’s most memorable one-liners and symbolizes limitless ambition and a hunger for adulation and flattery. Of the many memorable villains Salim-Javed created, ‘Mogambo’ in Shekhar Kapur’s ‘Mr. India’ is the most unusual because he has shades of comedy and mirth. Driven by Lobha (Greed), Mogambo creates unrest, fear, and instability in India, yet he is almost cartoonish in his mannerisms and facial expressions. Played by Amrish Puri, Mogambo remains one of the most unique depictions of evil. Watch Mr. India on ZEE5.

Omkara (2006)
Inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Othello,’ this Vishal Bhardwaj classic featured Saif Ali in a career-defining role. He portrayed Iago, or ‘Langda Tyagi’, a man so crazed by jealousy that he destroys many lives just because life hasn’t given him what he has always coveted. The basic traits of his villainy are rooted in the ‘vikara’ of ‘Maatsarya’ (Envy). Langda Tyagi is cunning, manipulative, and heedless in his quest for power, and Saif’s frightening portrayal of avarice garnered massive critical acclaim. Watch ‘Omkara’ on JioCinema.

Ra.One (2011)
In this Anubhav Sinha directorial, a contemporary version of Ravana is portrayed by Arjun Rampal. The character exemplifies the consequences of Mada (pride) and the evil that can emanate from the human tendency to play God. The entire plot of the movie revolves around the creation of a video game, and when the antagonist of the game, an immensely powerful virtual character, takes physical form and enters the earth, chaos follows. However, underlying its importance, the film has Ra.One, the antagonist in the titular role, not G.One, the protagonist. Watch it on Prime Video.

Agneepath 2 (2012)
Kancha Cheena, the antagonist in the initial version of Agneepath (1990), was portrayed by Danny Denzongpa. In the 2012 remake, the character of the unscrupulous drug kingpin was played by Sanjay Dutt. It stands as one of Sanjay Dutt’s most iconic roles in a villainous capacity. The attitude and swagger with which he delivers punchlines like Ramji Lanka Padhar Chuke Hain in that typical Sanjay Dutt way will give you chills. Kancha is also regarded as one of the high-voltage, villainous avatars in Indian cinema in the last decade and stands as an onscreen example of how your ‘vikara’ of Budhi (intellect) can be overturned by greed, vengefulness, and ruthlessness. Directed by Karan Malhotra, Agneepath 2 is available for streaming on Netflix.

Baahubali (2015)
In this S S Rajamouli epic, Bhallaladeva, played by Rana Daggubati, falls under the trap of Moha (delusion) and symbolizes the endless need for self-glorification. He also covets power that he has not earned and is deeply vindictive and jealous. As the manipulative, self-serving cousin of Baahubali (Prabhas), he schemes to usurp the throne of Mahishmati and serves as a formidable adversary to the hero. His towering physical presence, however, cannot hide his pettiness, and that is a remarkable insight that the film offers to the audience. Watch it on Netflix and SonyLiv.

Kanyadaan(2017)
Arun Athavle, from Zee Theatre’s acclaimed teleplay “Kanyadaan,” created by Vijay Tendulkar, stands out as one of the most powerful characters, displaying a negative vikara of Krodh (anger). The play has already become a subject of study for many students due to its strong political and social relevance in its theme. Similarly, the transformation of Arun from a seemingly calm individual to an anger-ridden man seeking revenge on the girl who married him adds to the complexity of his character. This diverse range portrayed by Joy Sengupta places this character among the top antagonists on the list.

K.G.F -Chapter 1 (2018)
The charismatic Ramachandra Raju plays the villain ‘Garuda’ in the Prashanth Neel directorial ‘K.G.F Chapter 1’ and represents ‘Ahamkara’ (Ego) in all its ferocity. He wants to control his empire of evil at any cost and will take just about any measure to protect it and ward off his challengers. His villainy matched the stature of the protagonist played by Yash in this pan-Indian hit. He rules the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) mines with an iron fist, and his physically imposing appearance complements his brutal nature. Watch this battle of good vs. evil on Disney+ Hotstar and Prime Video.

Purush (2019)
Playwright Jaywant Dalvi’s ‘Purush’ paints a devastating picture of brutal patriarchy that will go to any lengths to control and disempower a feisty woman. Representing this trait of toxic masculinity is corrupt politician Gulab Rao, portrayed by veteran actor Ashutosh Rana. As a devious, power-hungry, egotistical man, he assaults and humiliates Ambika, an idealistic activist. He is also driven by the evil ‘vikara’ of ‘Kaam’ (lust). Directed by Saurabh Shrivastava, the popular teleplay from Zee Theatre is an unsparingly honest portrayal of how absolute power can often be misused. The play also stars Gulki Joshi, Paromita Chatterjee, Deepak Qazir, Kranti Prakash Jha, and Neha Saraf. ‘Purush’ will be aired at Tata Play Theatre.

Vikram (2022)
In a single lengthy scene, stealing the show—is it possible to portray various Asura bhavas all at once within such limited screen space? Yes, it attests to the success of the character ‘Rolex’ portrayed by actor Suriya. The cameo, appearing in the climax of the Tamil movie “Vikram,” showcases Rolex through his devilish act of violence, garnering more popularity than the heroes. Now, movie buffs eagerly await Lokesh Kanagaraj to bring him back in a full-length movie.

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