10. Ashutosh Rana
I know, I know. This one is bit tricky. Ashutosh Rana’s glory days happened just between the two films, Dushman (1998) & Sangharsh (1999). But there’s no denying the fact that those two portrayals of the villain were also the most frightening ones you will see in the Hindi Cinema. And that is why Ashutosh has been placed so high up on the list. They were far from the typical campy, comedic portrayal of villainy of Ashutosh’s contemporary’s and became much more. One of the most iconic scenes of Sangharsh happens when during a chase; Ashutosh Rana’s character Lajja Shankar wearing a disguise in the form of Red Saree turns around and scares the shit out of Preity Zinta. According to Rana himself, after watching the movies, his niece got so scared that she refused to come anywhere near him and used to cry a lot, whenever he visited her home. Later on Ashutosh went on to play a variety of roles, some of them negative including Dhokha (2007), Awarapan (2007) & Kalyug (2005), but none of them had the same impact as that of his initial two roles. I just hope that someone will give the man a role which will justify his immense talent.
9. Gulshan Grover
The designated bad man of the Bollywood, Gulshan Grover has been a staple of the Hindi films as the either the lead villain or the henchman of the lead villain. Gulshan has acted in over 400 films in past 25 years. May be getting type casted to the typical comical villains of the 80’s & early 90’s lead to Gulshan finding trouble lately with getting work in Hindi films but there’s no denying the fact that Gulshan Grover is the real bad man of the Hindi cinema. Gulshan played villains in lot of the movies during late 80’s & 90’s but the most popular one remains Kesariya Vilayati (also known as ‘Bad Man’) in blockbuster Ram Lakhan (1989), as Chhappan Tikli in Sir (1993) & Vishwatma (1992). Lately he has shifted his focus from villainous characters to more positive character, a great example of which can be found in I Am Kalaam (2013) for which he was nominated for the National Award in the the best actor in a supporting role category.
8. Shakti Kapoor
The reel life nephew of Mogambo himself, crime master Gogo of Bollywood, Shakti Kapoor has played roles of different genres with equal panache, but it is his villainous turns in Hindi movies for which he will be remembered. Initially struggling for roles, Shakti Kapoor found success as the villain in movies such as Hero (1983) & Himmatwala (1983), which established him as the leading villain of the Bollywood movies. Because of his unique dialogue delivery, many of his dialogues have become part of the Indian pop-culture such as “Aaaooo Lolita”, “Main Nanha sa Chotta sa Bachcha Hoon” & Aaya Hoon Kuch Toh Lekar Jaunga. Since the late 90’s Shakti Kapoor have tried to branch out into different genre notably comedy and worked with prominent directors such David Dhawan & Priyadarshan. Because of the shift in general portrayal of the villains in Hindi films, you may not see Shakti Kapoor as the villain but there is no doubt that there was a time he ruled the movies.
7. Kanhaiya Lal
Many people might not know who Kanhaiya Lal is but those who have seen Mother India (1957), might understand why Kanhaiya Lal is so high up on the list. His portrayal of the scheming moneylender who tries to rape Nargis in one of the film’s most important scenes will send the chills down your spine. Kanhaiya Lal is the only actor who has played the same role in the original & remake of the movie i.e Aurat (1940) & Mother India (1957) respectively, that too 17 years apart. Later on, he played same type of role in super-hit movies such as Gunga Jumna (1961), Upkar (1967) to name a few. But saying that Kanhaiya Lal owned the roles of scheming, money lending sahukar’s might not be an exaggeration, once you see him in Mother India.
6. Danny Denzongapa
Not many people know, but before Amjad Khan signed on to play the role of Gabbar in Sholay, Danny was the front runner for the coveted role. But as the fate would have it, Danny was away from India shooting for Feroze Khan’s Dharmatma (1975) and the role eventually went to Amjad Khan. I am not quite sure how that would’ve turned out if Danny bagged the role, but there’s no denying the fact that Danny has his own set of iconic roles in his kitty. Pretty early in his career, Danny played the negative role of a wheelchair bound, frustrated husband in the fantastic thriller Dhundh (1973) for which he garnered positive reviews.
During the peak of his career, he became fed up of the similar type of roles offered to him and took a break from acting. He came back even strongly. Throughout the 80’s, Danny played the leading villain against the heroes in movies such as Dharm Aur Qanoon (1984), The Burning Train (1979) & Andar Baahar (1984) but probably his most iconic roles came in the 90’s in the form of Agneepath (1990) as the dapper gangster Kancha Cheena, Hum(1991) as Bakhtawar, Ghatak (1996) as Kaatya. Especially in Agneepath, he was able to hold his own in scenes opposite Amitabh Bacchan, which is a very rare feat. Late in his career, Danny has moved away from negative characters and now can be seen in more positive roles such as Baby (2015), but for most of us, he will be remembered as the suave Kancha Cheena.
5. Prem Chopra
“Prem naam hai mera…….Prem Chopra“
His cameo in Bobby (1973) has to be the most glorified cameos in the history of Hindi cinema. Working alongside veterans such as Pran, Ajit, Prem Chopra was able to carve a place for himself as one of the leading villains because of his ability to utter nonsense dialogues with great ease.
Now get this, in the movie Sautan (1983), Prem Chopra visits the home of movie’s leading lady Padmini Kolhapure. Upon opening the door, she politely asks: “Apki taareef”. In return this is Mr. Chopra’s response: “Main wo bala hoon jo sheeshe se paththar ko todta hoon”.
Prem Chopra came to Mumbai because of his passion for acting and during that time started working with Times of India to earn some money while looking for acting assignments. Do you know, he continued working with Times even when he was appearing in hit movies such as Shaheed (1965) & Mera Saaya (1966).
4. Amjad Khan
Bow down to the guy who played arguably the most popular villain of the Hindi Cinema. I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t heard the laughter of Gabbar Singh. Born to the famous actor of the 50’s & 60’s Jayant, Amjad Khan faced the camera when he was just 11 years old in the movie Nazneen(1951) and later went on to play minor roles in movies during 60’s & 70’s. But it wasn’t until 1975 when he bagged his most iconic role and the rest, as they say, is history. His portrayal of Gabbar Singh was so perfect that many consider him as the first portrayal of pure evil in the Hindi cinema. Its rather very hard to imagine anyone else other than Amjad Khan to be playing Gabbar, but he wasn’t always the first choice to play the role. After the film’s success, Amjad Khan became first villain who later appeared as Gabbar Singh for the endorsement of Britannia Glucose Biscuits. You can check the ad here.
He later went on to play villain in many of the popular movies from 70’ & 80’s like Naseeb (1981), Satte Pe Satta (1982) & Inkaar (1978) among many others. Despite his on-screen persona, Amjad Khan was well respected in the acting community and was the president of the Actors Guild.
“Saare Sheher inhein Lion ke naam se Jaanta hai”. Meet the coolest and suavest villain of the Hindi Cinema. In a career spanning more than 4 decades, Ajit gave us some of the most memorable lines uttered by a villain, such as “Mona darling”, “smart boy” and “Lilly don’t be silly”, that too with utter calmness. Ajit started his career as a lead actor in the 1940’s with movies such as Aap Beeti (1948), Sone Ki Chidiya (1948), Hatimtai (1947), but couldn’t achieve the success he was looking for. Later on he turned to supporting roles in major movies such as Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Naya Daur (1957), but it was his fantastic turn as the villain in the movie Zanjeer (1973), which gave his career a new life. Ajit went on to act as the villain in a staggering 57 movies during 70’s and would cement is position as the premier actor. If Hollywood remembers Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber as the ultimate suave villain, always remember, it was Ajit who gave us the suave, coolest villains first.
Before Amrish Puri came along, Pran was the ultimate king of the Bollywood villains. It is said people stopped naming their kids Pram because of his turn as a villain in films. But in filmy circles, he is fondly remembered as “Gentleman Villain”. After establishing himself as a lead villain in Badi Behen (1950), Pran went on to work as the villain in almost all of the movies with his fellow actors as the lead heroes such as Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, and Raj Kapoor. Even in the 70’s, there were no major films which did not feature Pran as the antagonist. It was Pran who brought the style and sophistication to the negative roles. In one of his negative turns, he was seen creating rings with the cigarette, which became a rage later on. At some point, he used to be paid more than Mr. Bacchhan himself. He was so much popular as the villain that his biography is titled …And Pran because in most of his films, his name in the credits would appear last and read as …and Pran. Sometimes, it would be …above all Pran. In 2010, Pran was named as CNN’s top 25 Asian actors.
1. Amrish Puri
Was there ever any doubt about who’s gonna top this list. Amrish Puri was the embodiment of the terror that we can face in our everyday life. There is no other actor in this list who can rival the number of iconic villainous characters he gave us. Right from Mogambo in Mr. India to Barrister Indrajit Chaddha, he was the embodiment of all things negative. Gifted with husky voice which truly conveys the anger, we can feel the pain when he repeatedly slaps Shahrukh khan in DDLJ. As a child, I used to hate him like anything and just wanted the hero to finish him off. But as I grew up, I realized how much I miss him as an actor, as now there are no alpha villains left in the movies. He can also be credited with creating comic villains. Just take a look at his characters in movies like Mr. India, Damini or Badshah. But if you really want to see the real dark side of Amrish Puri, you have to see his acting power as Mirza Khan in Sazaa-E-Kaalapaani(1996). It is reported that after working as an antagonist Mola Ram in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Spielberg was so impressed with Puri that he said ‘Amrish is my favorite villain- The best the world has ever produced and ever will!‘. When the greatest director of all time says that about you, you know you are the greatest.