They make heroes look good. The more villainous they are, the more interesting the films become. 2023 has especially been a year of powerful antagonists in Bollywood cinema. Here are four villains who grabbed our attention and made us fear for our favourite heroes’ lives, and one that we are eagerly waiting to watch.
Emraan Hashmi in Tiger 3
Having kick-started his career with romance thrillers and after playing characters with grey shades in films such as Murder, Gangster, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and Chehre, Emraan Hashmi sprang a surprise with his villain act in the recent Diwali biggie Tiger 3, directed by Maneesh Sharma.
Emraan’s Aatish Rehman is a disgraced ex-ISI agent, and the character has a strong backstory and motive to take on Salman Khan aka Tiger. Given that his involvement in the Yash Raj Films Spy Universe film had been kept under wraps and his last big-screen outing was as a common man opposite Akshay Kumar in Selfiee, Emraan’s turn as a slick and suave antagonist opposite Salman and Katrina Kaif in Tiger 3 has been pure gold.
Vijay Sethupathi in Jawan
As Kaalie Gaidwad, Vijay Sethupathi made for a chilling arms dealer in Jawan who wreaked havoc on armyman Vikram’s (Shah Rukh Khan) life by pushing his young wife (played by Deepika Padukone) to death and causing a near-fatal injury to Vikram. The Atlee-helmed actioner didn’t give any backstory to Kaalie apart from an unstoppable greed for wealth and power and a ruthless streak to eliminate anything that gets in the way. For a versatile actor like Sethupathi, Kaalie ended up being a bit of a unidimensional character. And for that reason, Kaalie couldn’t be the formidable adversary that John Abraham’s Jim is in Pathaan.
John Abraham in Pathaan
Jim, played by John Abraham, in Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback film Pathaan has emerged as one the most impactful anti-heroes in recent Bollywood cinema. A former Indian intelligence agent, Jim had gone rogue and eventually became the leader of the mercenary group Outfit X.
It’s not just a good-looking hunk like John taking pleasure in violence that made our hearts skip a beat but Jim’s backstory that outlined what drove him down that destructive path that made the character memorable. Before his compelling turn in the Siddharth Anand-directed Pathaan, John had made a mark as a stylish anti-hero in Dhoom and Race 2.
Saif Ali Khan in Adipurush
Despite director Om Raut’s Adipurush faring poorly at the box office, Saif Ali Khan’s fiery Lankesh Ravan won many hearts. In this film based on the Ramayana, headlined by Prabhas and Kriti Sanon, Saif looked intimidating and made more noise than anything else. Saif has previously impressed as the antihero in films such as Ek Hasina Thi, Omkara, Kurbaan, Tanhaji and the Prime Video web show Tandav. Next up, he will be seen as the bad guy in NT Rama Rao Jr’s Devara.
Bobby Deol in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal
The first teaser of Animal has generated a lot of speculation around Bobby Deol’s role in the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer directed by Kabir Singh maker Sandeep Reddy Vanga. Looks like Bobby is set to play a delicious villain in the December 1 release, going by the glimpse we got of him in the trailer — opening the door bare-bodied, wearing a long neckpiece, chewing something and gesturing with a knife at some people to get in.
After a long lull, the Barsaat actor has revived his career and hit the purple patch with back-to-back OTT projects like Aashram, Love School and Class of ’83. In a recent episode of Koffee with Karan Season 8, Bobby opened up about the slump in his career and hitting rock bottom before getting back up on his feet.