The Good, Bad and Ugly
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It was back in the eighties, when Hindi film villains' reigning characteristics were loud costumes and a stock catchphrase (read: Mogambo Khush Hua), that Kolkata-based English professor Tapan K Ghosh decided to decode the magic behind being a villain. "My wife Mitali Chatterjee, who was a well-known singer, was meeting Amrish Puri. I accompanied her, and found him to be a gentleman. We spoke about a possible adaptation of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and had a wonderful conversation," reveals Ghosh.
Back home, he pondered over the meeting. It inspired him to write a book about Hindi cinema's villains. "Heroes and superstars are always in the limelight. How much do we know about the talented actors who play the role of villains?" says Ghosh, 62. In the early '90s, he wrote to Shyam Benegal, to seek help from the filmmaker to spearhead his dream book. He wanted to explore the cinematic politics of good versus evil. "Back then, the characters were divided. Our heroes were our saviours and the villains were catalysts for them," says Ghosh, recalling Benegal's excitement about the subject.
After almost two decades, now, Ghosh's book Bollywood Baddies: Villains, Vamps and Henchman in Hindi Cinema (Sage publications, Rs 395), is in the market. Divided into three parts, it chronologically discusses the socio-cultural aspects of our villains, from as early as Ashok Kumar's role in the 1943 film Kismet to Kancha Cheena in 2012's Agneepath. "It took so long because several films have been written about, from Mother India, Kalicharan and Kati Patang to the more recent Mirch Masala and Karma. I watched all these films from front to back," adds Ghosh, who has previously written two books — Rabindra Tagore: Forms of Popular Culture on Rabindranath Tagore, and a screenplay adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea, both written between 2003 and 2007.
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