The underdog who bashes up baddies has always been a Bollywood favourite. Here's a tribute
If there's anything more dependable than formula films, it's the formulaic characters. And Bollywood has many who we've grown to love and accept. Over decades, one variety that has survived the transformation of Hindi cinema is that of the underdog hero. From the rustic boxer who turns against a local goon in 'Ghulam' to the idealist cop who becomes a one-man army against a depraved politician in 'Singham', the underdog has been a millionaire-making idea.
And now that the ultimate underdog superstar of Bollywood, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan returns in the remake of 'Agneepath', it is surely a good time to pay a tribute to this unexpected hero.
So here, we try to do a character break-down of this unassuming man with uncommon strength and superhuman virtues, who saves the day each time around, leaving the actress, the audience and the distributers swooning for more.
These are elements that make a Bollywood underdog bark, bite and wag his tail in delight:
A relatable simpleton: Not saying that the audience comprises chiefly of dimwits but our hero has to be one who follows his heart (over other organs). This can be demonstrated by the way he goes about life and love. He has to be one who welcomes the idea of being cheated and fooled. This only makes him all the more amiable and we can sit back and empathise with his pitiable situation and vulnerable demeanor.
Love for the common people: Whether he is poor or rich or belongs to the great Indian middle-class, he has to be magnanimous about lending a hand to anyone and everyone he practically knows. This means, he might be starving to death but if he comes across a hungry hobo family, he will offer his last Rupee to feed them.
Ethical hacker: Whether a mafia don or a junior cop, he has to be devoid of any form of vice and must be an idealist who lives by his own rules which will invariably be verbatim from any moral science text book.
He will need a 'Maa': Now, like every successful man is backed by his wife, every successful underdog needs his 'Maa ka aashirwad' to beat up goons, stand up against society's evils or do anything worthwhile.
A nemesis who symbolizes the devil: This may not be a character trait that our underdog needs to embody. But without a villain who breathes fire and spits acid, how does one draw a contrast?
He has to be tricked: Since we've agreed that he is a vulnerable simpleton, he has to prove this by getting entangled in a political web stitched together by an evil genius who happens to be his ultimate enemy. So, he will basically end up in a sticky situation where he is to blame for a lot of things that he hasn't really committed, not consciously atleast. Poor thing!
Avenge his father's death: He doesn't need to be a stickler to this one but the basic idea is that he has to avenge something and it has to relate to his past. Luckily, the person responsible for his present misery is the same as the one who ruined his past (Bollywood likes to keep it simple!). So it's like killing one bird with one stone.
Balls of steel: Whether he's a scrawny superhero or a six-pack stud, the idea is that he has to be able to throw flying kicks and crouch like a tiger to dodge bullets. Being able to single-handedly bash up 45 goons who approach him one or two at a time is a given and doesn't even need to be in reinforced here.
Suffer but not succumb: A wise man (Salman Khan in a baniyan commercial) once said that the real hero is one who can take the maximum number of blows and still stand up to brave some more. This is true for our hero too. In the climax of the movie, our man of the soil will have to snuff a lot of ground as he gets brutally smacked and slashed by the villain. You know who will come through victorious but it's fun to tilt the curve and making it seem like he won't make it. Old blow in new glove, this.
Earn back lost glory: In case you forget what he was fighting for by the end of an unending fight sequence, he will refresh your memory by gleaming in pride after winning back his family's lost glory. Khandaan ki izzat not rubbed into the soil after all.
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