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The urge to err on the wrong side of law on big screen: Sanjay Dutt experiments again with AGNEEPATH

It was Gulshan Grover, when he was at the peak of his acting career who had said that it may be alright that a baddie in the world of cinema gets bashed up by the hero in the end, but throughout the film he has the best of life, best of clothes, booze and the girls, so what is the harm in being bashed up for few reels. Indeed, a villain be it in the world of Hindi cinema or even in cinema in any form and genre around the world lives a charmed life on the silver screen, so there always is a latent urge among the established film stars to err on the wrong side of the law. It has got something to do with the fact that though in our genes both good and bad elements dominate; it always is a dilemma to keep the bad element in control, as there is an urge to flirt with it. 

Hindi cinema from that perspective has been a rather exception that here the film stars who have enacted the lead roles have seldom tried being bad on the screen, probably owing to the fact that they are too self conscious of their image. However, it does not then provide them an opportunity to evolve themselves as an actor. But may be the stranglehold of image does not allow them to do so. Even then there have been exceptions of the likes of Utpal Dutt and now Naseeruddin Shah who have never thought twice to experiment with being a baddie. 

But the scenario and the landscape has started changing, in particular in the last two decades and the present generation of actors consider playing the negative role as process of evolution for them as an actor. The first singular step in this step forward that was taken with lots of conviction was that by Sanjay Dutt in KHALNAYAK and now after more than 10 years he returns back to play a villain, and a menacing one at that with AGNEEPATH.

Another actor who has experimented with this genre time and again is Aamir Khan. Very few amongst us would have seen his first film HOLI where he had played a negative role with conviction, but we all would have loved to hate him in FANAA where he played the role of a terrorist with conviction and panache.

Big B had experimented with this genre in PARWANA and it had met with a huge success, but eventually he left experimentation with this genre. However, in a way he continued to experiment with enacting characters having shades of grey, as his image of an angry young man was more a protest against the norms of the society and therefore had an element of negativity to it. But in real sense of terms he again returned to playing a negative actor in a big way in AKS, which was an inspired version of FACE-OFF and subsequently RAMGOPAL VERMA KI AAG.

But if there was one star who experimented with this genre on a regular basis without thinking twice about how it was going to affect his image, it was Shah Rukh Khan and indeed the kind of aura that he has created for himself is owing to this experimentation. It all started in a big way with DARR, BAAZIGAR followed by ANJAAM and then DON series. And yes in between he had also acted in a film called RAMJAANE which few of us may have seen but it was full of negative elements and was a full time entertainment.

In this genre there is one actress as well who did not think twice before enacting such role, and yes you guessed it right it was none another than Kajol and the film was GUPT. 

Now with Sanjay Dutt returning to it once again with AGNEEPATH one hopes that more front line stars would experiment with it so that the audience gets real "paisa vasool" moments.

Nalin K Rai (pen name 'Enkayaar') is a Tagore Commemorative Honouree Author for 2023 for his literary Contributions and Beyond & Emily Dickinson Award Winner for his poetry writing.
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