It was quite a surprise when with Khalnayak, Sanjay Dutt became more popular than its lead actor Jackie Shroff. Bollywood previously had demarcated lines of what qualifies as a hero and what settles as a villain! Slowly the dimensions and boundaries of the same began to blur and films like Vaastav told the story of a negative character who was the hero. With OUATIMD gearing up for release, this is another one of new age’s films where the villain has the film’s lead role.

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The dimension of what qualifies as a hero began to blur through the 90s and with the advent of the new millennium, cinema converted into something that is more realistic than pomp and show! The elements of a hero dwindled as story became the most overpowering thing in a film. Now, it is more important from whose perspective the story is told. Villains with all their negative shades are exceedingly getting accepted without any judgement connotations attached.

Sanjay Dutt, Shah Rukh Khan, Emraan Hashmi, Amitabh Bachchan Akshay Kukmar
Sanjay Dutt, Shah Rukh Khan, Emraan Hashmi, Amitabh Bachchan Akshay Kukmar

For example Farhan Akhtar’s Don, that thrived on the wickedness of Shah Rukh’s character. Unlike the earlier Don that wrapped up with good reigning over evil, the new Don saw the win of the Evil. And the audiences clearly found it intriguing enough that Farhan Akhtar designed a sequel for it.

Movies like Shootout At Lokhandwala and Shootout At Wadala were gangster sagas. Notoriety was at the brim from these films and going by the prudish Indian logic, these films should have been ostracized! The exact contrary happened when both films and their lead protagonists became a favorite with the audiences. Shootout At Wadala that released more recently was based on the life of gangster Manya Surve. And though the story could not adequately justify why Surve took on the wrong path, invariably most choked up when Surve was encountered by the Police following a fashioned trick.

Sometimes there is a more charming villain, you can’t hate! Amitabh Bachchan’s role in Buddha Hoga Tera Baap was fashioned on something similar. It was more easy to justify Raveena Tandon’s tug towards him than believe that the character’s intoxicating energy didn’t touch!

Coming back to Balaji’s Once Upon… series with the film’s first edition made Emraan Hashmi shine more than a more noble hearted Sultan played by Ajay Devgn. Perhaps the catchy charisma of Emraan or just a more convincing portrayal of his character or his eventual triumph in the end, but something about that overtly grey character struck on very well with the audiences.

And now when Akshay Kumar is going to slip into the same shoes, venturing into villainy, he does so with his crude humor. Akshay hasn’t been very fluent in playing such roles. One of the most prominent villainous roles he has played was in Kareena Kapoor-Bobby Deol starrer 2001 film Ajnabee and Akshay was infallible in it, for sure! As Shoaib in OUATIMD, Akshay is vivacious and feisty at the same time and hopefully the story will give us another grey character we can’t forget.

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