In devil’s den


While the villains have transformed through the decades when it comes to plotting, sadly their magnificiant lairs have gone missing. Here's why

In the last scene of Rowdy Rathore, the Hindi remake of 2006's Telugu hit Vikramarkudu, Akshay Kumar goes to Chambal-like hideout of the villain to rescue his family. Apart from the sassy nautanki girls and loud dialogues, the film is a tribute to the 80s with its raunchy and raucous content featuring a done-to-death plot, voluptuous heroine and a villian's lair which can compete with Gabbar's from Sholay. Well, almost.

The 70s and 80s were the time when each Bollywood villain competed with the other when it came to having a hideout which resembled a space ship or may be a house in Pluto, the more imaginative, the better for the art department The lair is a delineated space for malevolence and was given meticulous detailing to amplify of his power and strength of the evil as the hero's nemesis. Perhaps, this is why in Karan Johar's Agneepath, much care was taken  to give Kancha Cheena, played by Sanjay Dutt an evil look, complete with his gloomy hideout.

Bollywood's top 'daku-dramas'

Yeh tera ghar yeh mera ghar
In essence, it is the opposite of the hero's world. While the hero is someone who is a happy, righteous man (this is established in many ways: saving the heroine from crooks, refusing money for a good deed etc), the villain lurks in dim places with psychedelic lights and secret chambers ala 'Shaan'. The super villain Shakaal keeps sharks and a crocodile as his pets and the one who incurs his wrath is fed to them. His 'office' is right out of Star Wars, complete with death chairs which can rotate 180 degree and can turn you into shark-food. When he is not feeding his sharks, he sits on his throne and taps his bald head.

Return of the devil

Though the years
undefinedThe villains in Hindi films have undergone a transformation. While the 60s and 70s specialized in dacoits, who would mostly be the wronged- hero running into Chambal to avenge oppression, until Amjad Khan walked into Bollywood. Shekhar Kapoor has rightly said that the history of Indian Cinema's 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. Gabbar changed the look of dacoits and got rid of the multiple gold chains which had become synonymous with the 'dakus' of Chambal. Gabbar's hideout was shot in Ramnagaram, near Bangalore.  Sippy's cinematographer Dwarka Divecha used light and granite rocks to build a grim atmosphere.

The turn of the century was marked by more sophisticated and sauvé villains who didn't resort to cheap thrills (a la Mogambo in 'Mr India'), a far cry from the quintessential lecherous rogue who would take delight in mouthing quick one-liners and elaborate torture techniques.  So Mr India's Mogambo has a throne like Shakaal where he sits, looks at the illuminated map of India and and plots about destroying the country and oh! he has an acid pit. So large was the villian's persona at that time that Amjad Khan, Amrish Puri became cult figures, etched in the audience's collective memory.

Here's how Anil Kapoor beats up Mogambo: