Angry Young Man, Roadside Romeo, Everything No.1 (cue: Govinda), Khiladi, Majnu, Robinhood Pandey, Mastani- Bollywood has created numerous characters that different sections of the public resonate with. One significant category of characters among the aforementioned is BHAI (the Don/Gangster waala bhai).
The bhais of Bollywood come clad in the overwhelming persona of top actors and little do we realize that the pretty picture we’re looking at, is based on the filth of the underworld.
The invigorating music, the slow motion effect, the reverence sort of vibe that’s provided to these characters more or less glorifies the gangsters.
As far as my memory and knowledge serve, Don (1978) is the first film that paved the way for renowned actors to play the roles of gangsters. These actors don’t become villains; they become anti-heroes. These anti-heroes carry out all tasks that an underworld don would undertake and yet the scripts conclude the films in a way that doesn’t leave the viewers with resentment for them.
By the time the viewers leave the theatres, they forget that the person they start liking (or liked anyway) during the film’s course has committed crimes. However, all those crimes are sugar coated with the popularity of the revered actor who plays the gangster’s role. It leaves one perplexed; a clear demarcation between good and bad, right and wrong, becomes unachievable.
The two instalments, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010) and Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobaara! (2013), also projected “Gangsters with hearts of Gold.” (What does that even mean?) Raees is the most recent example of such favourable treatment of gangsters in Bollywood.
Even if the filmmakers have denied any relation between Raees (played by Shah Rukh Khan) and the criminal, Abdul Latif, we cannot turn a blind eye towards the striking similarities between the two.
An Indian Express report has described the person that Latif was and therefore, we have been able to draw a striking resemblance between Raees and Latif. There are three clear connections between the two- Gujarat (their origin and sphere of operation), Liquor (both smuggle it) and their appearance.
Anyway, any solid comparison can only be made after the film’s release. Nevertheless, we cannot disregard the fact that Bollywood has been glorifying criminals and we have been watching in awe.
In the end, it all boils down to the fact that these good-hearted gangsters are invincible, much like the cold-hearted thieves in all the instalments of Dhoom.
So, always remember, “Don ko pakadna mushkil he nahi, namumkin hai.”