6 Awesome Hindi Film Policemen

There was a time when crime capers with righteous Policemen were famous, and then came a long era where the Policeman was relegated to either coming at the end of the film (as pointed out here) or were treated as corrupt, inept characters. Unlike in the west where Denzel Washington plays a cop in every alternate movie of his, we have not had many films with Cops in the lead, especially if you remove movies with Raj Kumar playing a Law enforcer.

In fact when an actor plays a Police man these days, it becomes B-town news, case in point being the focus on Aamir Khan's handlebar moustache for his next film. However, we have had our fair share of men in Khakhi who made memorable celluloid appearances (and not necessarily as Lock-Up rapists or savages). Here's a look at 6 of these characters and the actors who played them


6. Chulbul Pandey (Dabangg)


Dabangg was a good film. There, I said it. It was a movie that from the first trailer it had that came without pretension. It was a movie that said it was serving Kitsch, and it lived up to its promise. In fact, if a similar movie had been made in the west by someone like Tarantino or Rodriguez it would have been heralded as a landmark tribute to masala films of yore. Well then, perhaps that's what Abhinav Singh Kashyap set out to do.


The trailer had everything, from cheesy Cowboy style music, to the proclamations that Chulbul Pandey was a Bad Ass Cop. Also, the thing that caught me was a scene in a mela where Heart Shaped lights reflect off Salman Khan's shades


In another film (Wanted), Salman Khan had played a Policeman, but there he had played an IPS officer who goes undercover in the most implausible way. And that movie was set in Mumbai, Dabangg was about Lalganj, a fictional town in UP (the actual Lalganj is a town near Azamgarh), and the director Abhinav Singh Kashyap having spent his growing up years in the region does justice in art direction.


And from the scene that Chulbul Pandey literally breaks a door and enters, you know this is His Movie, and seeing the claps and whistles in PVR Saket, Delhi (not exactly a Tier 2 Cinema Hall) you understand the power of Salman Khan.

The kind of action that is present in the movie exists in almost every other film made in South India, but unlike Wanted, Dabangg was not a remake, perhaps Abhiav Singh Kashyap took a leaf  out of Selva Mani's book

Style South Operation North

At the end of the first round of beating up Goonda Badmash log (including a self referential Ring tone fight scene with a fat guy) Chulbul Pandey does what any small town Police inspector would be expected to do, and pockets the loot that the villains were about to get away with. He calls himself Robin Hood Pandey, and hardly follows any legal procedure, shooting a subordinate to fake an injury and organizing a liquor party in his police station.

The movie is mostly a string of action scenes in which Chulbul Pandey beats up people single handily and finds time to awkwardly romance Sonakshi Sinha, and in the end beat up Sonu Sood (who ranks top on the list of actors I love to see beaten up on screen).

The Policemen behind Chulbul Pandey are just for show, he is a one man army
At the end of the movie, Chulbul comes across the amassed loot of Chhedi Singh and does what he does best in such a case, he makes sure it 'disappears'.

Sequels in Indian cinema have mostly not done too well, Chulbul Pandey is returning and this time he shall be parkour-ing through the streets of Kanpur. I, for one, would be waiting.

5. Sadhu Agashe (Ab Tak Chhappan)


When the people with money bags bank rolling Ideas and turning them into films see an interesting trend going, they ruin it by releasing a deluge of similar movies. When 'Encounter-Specialists' were in the news thanks to Magazine Covers and what not, we got a spate of movies fictionalizing the life of Daya Nayak (many of them retaining the name Nayak too), but only one of them was memorable, starring Nana Patekar


The movie was produced by Ram Gopal Verma, and might be one of the few movies that his 'Factory' produced that were actually good. It was directed by Shimit Amin (who later went Yashraj and directed Chak de India and Rocket Singh, both decent films in their own right) and was a taut thriller with a basic premise, how Mumbai's Encounter Squad operates just outside the sphere of the law, and how some of them keep a count of their killing as personal scores.

The story shows Encounters for what they are, cold blooded murders of (mostly) cold blooded murderers

Sadhu Agashe offers the man tea before blowing his brains off
Nana Patekar plays Sadhu Agashe, the lead of this Encounter squad. He does not relish his job, and equates it with doing something as mundane as buying drumsticks for cooking at home. Much of the film revolves around him showing the ropes to a rookie cop (Nakul Vaid), balancing a family life with his work and having long conversations with a Don from Dubai who threatens to kill him whenever he would get a chance but doesn't forget to send him an anniversary gift. He also has to keep a cop named Imtiyaz played by Yashpal Sharma in check.

Sadhu Agashe is not prone to corruption, although at times he does unquestioningly what his superiors ask him to do. He does not keep a count like the name of the movie, but he makes sure that he eliminates whoever it is required to stop crime. And when a new Boss (staple villain Jeeva) comes and shakes things around, he quickly resigns, kills a couple of corrupt policemen and politicians, goes over to Dubai with help from Zameer, drinks Scotch with him and kills him too. All without any histrionics. This must be Nana Patekar's most understated performance. Not once does he raise his voice, not once has he had such a tailor-made role for him made by someone else (apart from maybe Krantiveer).

Ab Tak Chhappan Part 2 is in works, this time with Nana Patekar as a director. Twenty years ago he made the excellent Prahar, I hope he repeats something like that with this film releasing after a gap of almost a decade from the first one.

4. Anant Velankar (Ardha Satya)


Anant Velankar was not your conventional Hero cop. But then, Om Puri is not your conventional actor. Over the course of his long career (peppered unfortunately with films he has to do to earn money) he has donned the vardi many many times (and thus would be perfect to play comic book character Rajan Mehra) but his best role as a cop was in this movie


Ardh Satya was dripping with awesomeness, its screenplay was written by the legendary Vijay Tendulkar, it was directed by Govind Nihalani, had Smita Patil, Amrish Puri and Om Puri and had a cameo by Naseeruddin Shah. Many consider it to be an important milestone in Indian cinema, and perhaps the peak of Om Puri's abilities.

The story in itself is about the struggle of an honest but flawed man, who wanted to be a writer at a young age (don't we all?) but was goaded, in fact even beaten by his father to enroll into the Police Force.

Amrish Puri plays a strict but well meaning father
He holds a grudge against his father for not allowing him to become what he wanted to be, never mind the fact that he now holds a Police rank and can hope to live a much more comfortable life than that of a struggling artist. A change that comes in his personality is that he stops fearing his father after earning his uniform, and in fact in a poignant scene, where Father and Son sit together to have a drink he lashes out and asks him why he used to hit his mother.

Anant is no superhero, he cannot break down doors and beat up goons with a water pipe. Nor is he the cold blooded encounter specialist Sadhu Agashe. He is not perfect, he uses alcohol to get by, but he wants to clean up his city and he faces opposition by small time criminal politician Rama Shetty

Sadashiv Amarpurkar, of the lost tribe of villains
But Rama Shetty is just one of the villains, Anant faces corrupt senior officers, his personal angst in not being able to communicate his love for Smita Patil's character, and when he sees his former friends breaking down (Naseeruddin Shah), and the final step that shatters him is when an officer from a different department takes credit for capturing a Dacoit (played by a then little known Satish Shah).

Anant who had already taken up drinking on duty gets drunk and accidentally kills a suspected thief while torturing him, he keeps asking the thief 'How can you take something thats not yours!' He is referring to the credit and promotion that another officer gets.

Completely distraught and disillusioned, he goes to seek refuge with Rama Shetty, but instead of becoming a hired Policeman for him, he uses his proximity to the villain to kill him. At the end of the film he turns himself in, perhaps half satisfied with what he had achieved.

Govind Nihalani once said that the character that Om Puri plays in Dev is the older version of Anant, and that explains a lot of his bigotry and cynicism.

Another Cop role that Om Puri excelled in was as one of the Macbeth witches in Maqbool.

3. Ashwini Kumar (Shakti)


The 1980s were a period of resurgence in the career of Dilip Kumar sa'ab. The thespian, who is regarded as one of the finest film artists our country has had the privilege of having had a string of films in the 80s with him having one of the lead roles. One such film was Ramesh Sippy's Shakti

From a time when every film poster in India was required to have a Gun

This is the only movie to feature both Dilip Sa'ab and Amitabh Bachchan together. It is also one of the better movies in Ramesh Sippy's filmography and starred the thespian as Ashwini Kumar, who is an upright Policeman to a fault. This is established at the very beginning of the film when a noted gangster JK (Amrish Puri) who has kidnapped Vijay sets terms and conditions for his release, but Ashwini Kumar, the father of Vijay rejects them all, telling him that he is willing to make this sacrifice for his service. Unfortunately for him, Vijay hears this conversation and thus forms a decidedly negative opinion about his father. He is helped in escaping the clutches of JK by another gangster called KD (clearly the writers did not put a lot of effort in thinking up names) and when he returns home, there already exists a rift between Father and Son.

As Vijay grows up to become Amitabh Bachchan, he slowly descends into a life of (what else) crime, and an anguished Father watches helplessly as he puts his duty in front of everything, even family. Soon Vijay leaves home and joins KD's gang, with an ulterior motive of getting revenge on JK. Ashwini Kumar tries his best to bring back his son from the other side of the law, but his meetings with him turn only to confrontations.

An iconic scene
Kumar loses his wife too when she shields him from a bullet fired by a hired assassin of JK. Vijay wrecks vengeance on his mother's killer and his boss, but Kumar, still bound by duty knows that he must arrest his son. The final scene in the movie is one of the most famous climax of Hindi films


Ashwini Kumar fulfills what he says in the beginning of the movie, and sacrifices his son for the sake of his service.

2. ACP Ajay Singh Rathod (Sarfarosh)


Notwithstanding the fact that Aamir Khan is too short to in real life get selected as an IPS Officer, he delivered a very good performance as ACP Rathore, a no-nonsense tough cop, who although likes to work in the field himself, but believes in team work and not in being a one man juggernaut.


John Mathew Mathan, the director who debuted with this movie (and for some reason went on to make the highly forgettable Shikhar) wrote an almost perfect story, apart from the side-track of Lurve between the ACP and Sonali Bendre which existed for only two reasons, one was this


And the second one (which was perhaps at that time considered necessary to sell the movie) was this


However, getting back to Ajay Singh Rathod, the brilliance of the director lies in the genesis of this character. It is revealed in flashbacks that Ajay decided to become a Police officer because his brother was killed and his father beaten up and left paralyzed by terrorists. The movie offers us no identity of who these killers were, and thus spares us from a Scooby-Doo ending where in the villains at the ending of the film turn out coincidentally to be those who caused harm to his family. Ajay Rathod gets no closure, so he joins the police force, not in search of his father's attackers and brother's killers, but to ensure that no one else suffers his family's fate.

When his character is introduced as an ACP, he is shown to be joining a new office where he is about to be welcomed by a local politician who tries to flex his political muscles in front of the Police officer. The ACP promptly smashes his face into a mirror on the wall, tells his juniors to put him in jail and instructs them to forget the paperwork.

Ajay's battle is on a large scale, he wants to stop Gun trafficking from across the border, and he gets his clues as these guns go ultimately in the hands of dacoits etc (the one in the film is a caricature of Veerappan). He relies heavily on his team (which thankfully does not have the one mandatory corrupt character in cahoots with the criminals) and trusts them with important jobs (especially Mukesh Rishi, who gives a very good performance in the film), but leaves no quarter in putting himself in the line of fire.

At the end of the film, Ajay Rathod and his team have successfully thwarted the attempts of ISI, he even persuades the ISI Agent (singer Gulfam, played by Naseeruddin Shah) to in killing an ISI major and then committing suicide. 

The last scene of the movie reveals that Ajay Rathod's team has gotten a tip about the location of Veeran and they set out to catch him, leaving scope for a sequel which I am afraid is never going to be made.

1. Inspector Vijay (Zanjeer)

A couple of years before Sholay, this was the film that made Amitabh Bachchan a big name, it earned him the moniker of 'Angry Young Man' and launched him as an action movie star. Inspector Vijay worked in a system where most of his fellow Policemen were corrupt, and during the early 70s, when the public was warming up to the idea of protesting against widespread state controlled corruption, this was a character that they could relate with.

Also, the poster was awesome
The film also came at a time when Pran was shifting away from predominantly negative roles, and he acted as Sher Khan, a man who first fights with the young Inspector and later gains respect for him when Vijay spars with him after taking off his Vardi to prove that now it's not a fight between a policeman and another man.



Inspector Vijay was a man against the corruption, against criminals and against injustice. But he was just one man, and again he was very human, he does not send people flying in the air with kicks, his primary priority although remains to his duty, he does his best in providing protection to his lover (Reema, played by jaya Bhaduri), there is a very nice scene in which Vijay and Reema, who both discover that the other too is an orphan discuss the fears about living alone.

When he is framed on false charges of taking bribery he spends his six months Jail time quietly, in respect for the law that he has sworn to uphold.

However, when he returns from Jail he is given a promise by Reema to not seek revenge against those who framed him. He faces a conflict when he comes to know of the plight of a Police informers whose sons had died because of drinking moonshine, he convinces Reema to let him let go of this shackle. He then wrecks havoc on the criminals (who are quite One Dimensional in a film that has the rest of its elements delicately layered) and almost like a video game the film ends with the killing of the Mafia boss by the hero

The movie had an Insider in the system fighting injustice with the help of an Outsider (Sher Khan). This concept in itself was enough to give hope to almost an entire generation, and this is why this movie made Amitabh Bachchan who he is today. And in the opinion of many, making Inspector Vijay one of the best Policemen to have appeared on celluloid.


In a film industry that is almost a hundred years old, it is impossible to say that there were only 6 Policemen who deserve to be called Awesome, for example - Vinod Khanna's turn as a Cop in the movie Inkaar comes to mind. I have just skimmed off the surface, and shall write about other Cops (and other Robbers) soon.


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5 comments:

{ St. jef - "Patron saint of dorks" } at: April 21, 2012 at 11:23 AM said...

where is "gangajal"....??

{ praveshsingh } at: May 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM said...

u missed Sunny Pazi from Indian

{ Achintya Nath Sexena } at: May 28, 2012 at 2:23 AM said...

Too short to be an IPS officer? Is Aamir Khan not even 5 Feet 2 inches?

{ Pranjal Wagh } at: November 7, 2012 at 8:26 AM said...

Really? Chulbul Pandey?
Where was Manoj Bajpai from Shool?
Where is Ajay Devgan from Gangajal?

Bajirao Singham is anyday better than Chulbul Pandey.

{ Rajat } at: November 7, 2012 at 10:53 AM said...

Agree..Gangajal deserved a mention

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