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Dacoits in film land

Most actors have played dacoits in the career

Most actors have played dacoits in the career

At one point of time, in Bollywood flicks, whether it be legendary thespians like Dilip Kumar, or hams (he was a wonderful human being, but a terrible actor!) like Sunil Dutt, or for that matter Feroz Khan.

These days, the trend has changed, no one wants to venture out into a dacoit film, and else one is sure that all the three Khans, Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman would do pretty well. Let’s take a look at some good and bad dacoit roles and how they fared.

A huge tilak, under the shadow of a bigger turban, was always the hallmark of a typical Bollywood dacoit flick. However some actors managed to break the mould and outshone the rest with their acting and portrayal of the ubiquitous dacoit.

Dilip Kumar, in my book, essaying the role in Ganga Jamuna was the best of the lot. Extremely convincing, looking the part, using perfect get-up and dialect as well, outshone his competition by a mile.

Pran, often Dilip’s compatriot, in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Beheti Hain, was nearly as good, with his mannerisms, and the action of itching his neck uncomfortably ( he told this writer, that was the way of his subtly showing that he knew he would be facing the gallows soon.

Sunil Dutt was quite pedestrian in Mother India, and it was Nargis, later to be his wife who shone in the lead role and got the picture turning the turnstiles at the B.O. . Unsatisfied with his portrayal of a dacoit , Dutt produced his own film, “Mujhe Jeene Do” a dacoit drama which fetched Dutt a Filmfare award!

We now hear that Sanjay his son will be essaying a “take-off” on dad’s role in the upcoming “Son of Sardar”. Lets see if it’s “salaam” or a spoof!

Years later one of the finest dacoit films ever made in India, was Shekhar Kapur’s “Bandit Queen” a true story on Phoolan Devi’s life and Seema Biswas in the lead was simply stunning , as was Kapur’s brilliant cinematographic essay on the book.

Feroz Khan, has done a series of dacoit flicks, and one of his best was “Mela” with younger brother Sanjay and Mumtaz. Khan looked menacing enough despite his healthy ruddy skin and suave manners!

Amitabh Bachchan , not only played a dacoit in “Ganga ki Saugandh”, but the director Sultan Ahmed even copied an entire “kabaddi” sequence from Ganga Jamuna, and when compared with Dilip Kumar, Bachchan looked like a faded fax sheet.

While all these films were hits and each actor basked in their glory, one dacoit, without the typical “dhoti-kurta” ensemble, clad in military fatigues, with dirty teeth and a wicked grin, made a mark like none other and went on to make history, carving a niche of his own, was Amjad Khan and his role of “Gabbar” in Sholay is still talked about.

Unknown to most, it was inspired by Vinod Khanna’s dacoit debut in Mera Gaon Mera Desh, opposite Dharmendra, where Khanna was named “Jabbar Singh”! The dirty teeth and dress change were all creations of the classy writer duo Salim-Javed !

So guys, if you remember any more Indian filmi dacoits, be sure to write in!