The gangsters of Bollywood

The gangsters of Bollywood


By Robin Bansal

Bollywood is set to quench the thirst of movie aficionados with a slew of gangster movies — and it’s about time too, if the success of Milan Luthria’s underworld saga Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai is any indication.

“This is a prefect time to return to the era when gangster movies were very entertaining. They had humor, romance, music, dance, flamboyance and attitude. Those films were filled with every element of masala,” said Luthria.

“At the end of the day, we (in Bollywood) keep doing the same thing over and over again. Filmmaking is essentially good storytelling embellished with good music and, when entertainingly presented, it is what the audiences like. And we are doing the same,” he said.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, an Ajay Devgn-Emraan Hashmi-starrer, will be followed by The Business Man, Gangs of Wassipur and a remake of Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Agneepath - all gangster movies.

The law-defying citizen will also be in the spotlight in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s next Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster.

“A story on crime and underworld can never go away in Bollywood. It is like The Godfather — you can go on remaking and remaking it. Gangster movies are like classics ever told and a constant fodder for the audiences,” film critic Omar Qureshi says.

Bollywood has had a fair share of gangster movies with Deewar, Don, Dayavan, Angaar, Parinda and Hathyaar. However, the definition of such movies changed when Ram Gopal Varma came out with what is called the Gangster Trilogy of Bollywood - Satya, Company and D.

“It was a new noir altogether. Ramu (as Varma is fondly called) brought out the internal thinking of a gangster’s mind with his films. It was slick, edgy and true to the audience’s beliefs in gangsters,” comedian-filmmaker Satish Kaushik said.

Added Luthria: “These films came under the category of very dark gangster movies.”

Varma now plans to redefine crime thrillers with his trilingual The Business Man.

“Unlike the done to death rustic style of conventional gangster flicks, the shooting style of The Business Man will fall somewhere in between the slickness of Company and the entertainment quotient of Wanted,” he posted on his blog.

To be directed by Telugu director Puri Jagannath, it will have Tamil superstar Suriya in the lead.

Varma’s arch-rival Karan Johar will also produce a remake of Agneepath with Hrithik Roshan in the lead. To be written and directed by debutant Karan Malhotra, it will pay homage to the real inspiration behind Agneepath — Al Pacino-starrer Scarface.

Anurag Kashyap, on the other hand, has hired Manoj Bajpai to play a coal mafia gangster in his next Gangs of Wassipur, about the coal mafia of Dhanbad (Jharkhand). Not new to the genre, Manoj is still remembered for playing Bhiku Mhatre in Satya, which was written by Kashyap.

“Gangster, dons, mafia and the underbelly of crime are the best vehicles in Bollywood because audiences can relate to the highs and lows and associate their weak and strong points with the criminal on the big screen. It is a pseudo-reality they want to live in and a roller-coaster ride they want to experience,” said a trade source.

Bollywood did comic takes on gangsters with hits like Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai.

“Gangsters as funny guys have bigger audiences and are accepted in a much bigger way. Take, for example, Munnabhai or my cameo as Pappu Pager in Deewana Mastana. It is still remembered and imitated. A gangster movie in a lighter vein always goes to a bigger hit level. You then adore them for being gangsters,” said Kaushik.

A third installment in the Munnabhai franchise is reportedly also in the offing.

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