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The acts of simulation in the mirror scene of Mard (1985) featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Prem Chopra, a romantic villain like Pran, shows mimicry at its best under the intoxication of bhang, made from Indian hemp. A whole range of emotions like surprise, incredulity, self-pity, and stupidity, have been enacted in this scene. It’s fun on one hand, and awakening to one’s world on the other. Yet, within the film reality the hero is better placed than the villain as he isn’t really drunk whereas the villain has been put on a higher dose of bhang. This characterises how the baddies in Bollywood cinema have fought a lost battle, adding to the hero’s charisma. Along with their trusted henchmen and vamps, these baddies have suffered most, receiving a raw deal.
The book Bollywood Baddies: Villains, Vamps, and Henchmen in Hindi Cinema, explores these unsung people, showing how the country’s socio-political environment played a crucial role in guiding the nature and operation of villainy in Bollywood cinema. With the Bofors scandal, the coming of V.P. Singh’s government to power, and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the time was ripe for villains to burst on the scene with aplomb. The early hazy dawns of Parinda, a Vidhu Vinod Chopra film of 1989 symbolically suggests this suffocating scenario. Nights looked longer, and days shorter. It was obvious that something in the rule of nature went wrong.Published by Sage Publications