Over the years, the portrayal of a bandit in Bollywood films has gone through a transition though the premise has more or less remained the same- fighting the system. The latest in the list of dacoit-drama is Tigmanshu Dhulia's Paan Singh Tomar which tells the true story of a steeplechase champion who turns into a dacoit due to circumstances. Here's a look at few of Bollywood's most loved dacoits.
Amjad Khan in 'Sholay': Shekhar Kapoor has rightly said that Indian Cinema's history can be rightly divided into two parts- Before Sholay and after Sholay. With its multi-starrer cast, Sholay wouldn't have been the same without Gabbar Singh. According to few old-timers, Amjad Khan was almost dropped from the film because the film's scriptwriter Javed Akhtar found his voice not terrifying enough. The role was initially written for Danny Denzongpa but due to date problems, he backed out and in his place a man with army fatigues, a gun belt and blackened teeth showed up. Gabbar changed the look of dacoits and got rid of the multiple gold chains which had become synonymous with the 'dakus'.
Sunil Dutt in 'Mother India': During the Seventies, Sunil Dutt has done more dacoit films than any of his contemporaries. Films like Mujhe Jeene Do, Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye and Mother India made him no one of the Bollywood's favourite bandit. Originally, Sabu, a Hollywood star of Indian origin, was supposed to play the role the role of Birju that was eventually played by Sunil Dutt.
Vinod Khanna in 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh': One of the charismatic bandits of Bollywood, Vinod Khanna stole the show in 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh', despite being pitted against the more popular Dharmendra. The film is widely considered as an inspiration for Sholay, though it was much smaller in scale and budget.
Here's a scene from another of his Dacoit film
Amitabh Bachchan in 'Ganga Ki Saugandh': Before he became Don and Kalia, Amitabh Bachchan played a dacoit who has been forced by circumstances to take up arms. Set in a village which is terrorized by Amjad Khan, Amitabh plays a very naive young man who becomes a bandit to avenge the death of his mother.
Mukesh Tiwari in 'China Gate': Though the film failed at the box-office, Mukesh Tiwari's role as insane bandit launched his career in Bollywood. His role as one-liner sprouting Jagira was an instant hit with dialogues like, 'Mere mann ko bhaya, maine kutta katke khaya'. The film unfortunately tanked at the box-office.
Sunny Deol in 'Dacait': The story of 'Dacait' goes about the same way as its predecessors, a wronged hero who is forced to take up arms to avenge the wrongs. Rated as one of Sunny's best performances, it combined his rugged machismo and vulnerability as he effortlessly transforms from a peace loving man to a killing machine.
Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen: Based on the book 'Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi' by Mala Sen the film garnered a lot of criticism as the brutal rape scenes didn't go down with audience and was banned in India by censors due to its portrayal of nudity, sex and violence. Despite the controversies, Seema Biswas got her Best Debut Filmfare award that year.