5 Great Gangster Bosses in Hindi Films

There was a time when it was pre-requisite for the gangster of a Hindi film to have a huge mansion, with sliding doors, strobe lights, lava pits and dancing girls (along with the well stocked bar full of VAT 69 Bottles). However, with the advent of that strange thing called 'Realism' in Hindi Cinema, the size of these huge halls of pain+pleasure reduced, and we got people living in Joint Families in bungalows or in Chawls, not entirely as impressive. Yet, overall the lot of Gangsters in Indian cinema has been memorable, and we present to you the first edition on our series on Hindi Filmy Mafia by giving you a list of 5 Great Gangster Bosses in the hindi film industry, with a promise of more to follow in a later article (Note : This list would not include Terrorists/Super-Villains)

5. Bhiku Mhatre (Satya)

As a character, Bhiku Mhatre broke several conventions, one of them being that the Boss of a gang should be an Old man, and another being that no matter how uncouth or unkempt the goons of the gang are, the boss should remain in style.

You see, in more ways than one, Bhiku Mhatre was a path breaker. He heralded the realistic 'Don', one who did not roam around in Tuxedo (like the Italian Mafia), but rather, lived in claustrophobia inducing surroundings (as is the norm in Mumbai), and went around his business without much of a show-sha or an entourage.

A self-proclaimed 'Mumbai Ka King', he did not believe in sending a Shetty types to do his dirty work, and in what might be Manoj Bajpai's best performance till date, he managed to over-shadow the eponymous lead character of the film

Chakrabarty...Who? Close The Door When You Leave Please

Bhiku Mhatre did for the Indian Filmy Gangster what Charlie and Johnny Boy had done for the Hollywood versions in the 70s. He was the frontrunner (and still the best character) in a slew of 'Gritty' gang war movies that have since hit Filmistan.

4. Jahangir Khan (Angaar)

Kader Khan (apart from being Yamraj) has played characters on the other side of the law a lot of times before he sold his soul to David Dhawan and became largely avuncular. He usually played type-casted menacing gangsters who relied on guns and henchmen to take care of the Hero, but one of his different roles is in the 1992 film Angaar, where he played a Gangster with Principles.

Here's Kader Khan getting the better off Nana Patekar, something a lot of people have not been able to do off screen or on screen

The film was based loosely (read : largely) on the lives of Haji Mastan and Kareem Lala, with Jahangir Khan being a representation of the former. He was intense, strict and a man of Usool and Adarsh, who had his own definition of what is right, and did not let others cross a line. But he wasn't the stock 'Good Gangster' character, watch how he slowly loses his cool in this conversation

And yet, he is a man of reason. He takes up the cause of the down trodden, and is not vary of threatening his own

Kader Khan was involved in the character development of Jahangir Khan in two ways, both as an actor and the dialogue writer. Sadly, no other film had him playing another role of this depth and intensity ever.

3. Don (Don)

Although he had much less screen time than it is usual for memorable Gangster bosses (I am talking about the awesome/original version of this movie), the fact that it was played by  a 'Hero' of the time, and the ruthlessness with which he carried himself left quite an impact.

Not to mention his fetish for Bow-ties
Amitabh Bachchan had played a villainous character before in the film Parwana, and he successfully portrayed the anti-hero archetype in Deewar, but for the initial part of this film he glorifies Villain-ry through and through.

And he plays the villain with ishtyle. He has sexy chicks, a well stocked bar, strange decor on the walls, sliding doors, the works. And this was a gangster who literally bossed around people twice his age (and size too), exuding real power. Besides, when he spoke the dialogue 'Mujhe Jungli Billiyan Pasand Hain' you could feel the menace coming across, Shah Rukh Khan was no match for this.

And of-course, he had a way with the ladies

Although later in the movie it is revealed that he is kind of a sub-boss (explaining why he had to do much of his dirty work himself), but then, he was one of the few people who were actually living up to the expectation of their name. (It is never revealed in the original film whether Don is his name, a title, a nick-name, or a shortened version of Donald).

If this movie had been about Italian Mafia, he would have been Don Don.

2. Arjun Singh (Jewel Thief)

Spoiler Alert : For the few people who are alive and have not seen this cult-classic, ASHOK KUMAR IS THE VILLAIN IN THIS FILM (OH EM GEE YOU DID NOT KNOW THAT?)

'What? You mean to say that there ARE people alive who have not seen Jewel Thief?'

But seriously though, Arjun Singh (Ashok Kumar) was one helluva Gangster Boss. Firstly, he is a model-boss for any organization, because he extracts the maximum that he can from all his (so as to say) employees. Every one of them is an important tool in his scheme, and he keeps them happy too, with a seemingly unlimited supply of alcohol and cigarettes, and has given them a huge game room to play cards and billiard in a scenic town.

Secondly, he devised a whole movie worth of scheme, which was so damn ingenious that it ran a risk of frequently tripping over itself (without ever doing so), you see every character in the film (who are all basically under his employment) works on the direction of Arjun Singh with a complex and sinister goal of making the hero go crazy slowly.

Even the 'Heroin' of the film is complicit in his plans
And finally, even though he is a big leader of an organization which can easily be named 'Thugs R Us', he performs all his misdeeds without spilling blood. He is not a killer, he is a brilliant schemer, and he shows that he does not need violence (although weird science may be required from time to time) to attain his ends.

In fact, even when he and his whole gang gets caught in the end, he hardly bats an eyelid, and suggests that they should pass the time by telling each other stories and songs, because he knows that he is brilliant, and getting caught by cops would only be a small hindrance in his operations.

1. Lion (Kalicharan)

Saara Sheher Mujhe 'Loin' Ke Naam Se Jaanta hai
Lion (minus the unfortunate pronunciation) has got to be The Most Memorable Gangster Boss in the history of Indian cinema. His trademark dialogue delivery, his huge 'Gangster-Headquarter', the vardi waale goonde' in his gang, Mona, Sona, and a lot more things became a blue-print for future filmy gangsters to emulate.

Ajit had played the suave villain character before, once even with ill-fitting shoes, but it was THIS role that has got him an enduring (and overly parodied) legacy. There are typical jokes popular as 'Ajit Jokes', in fact even his son didn't flinch while cashing in on this

I wish all sons could make money off their father's legacy this way
But before the jokes, before the comedy was the Master Criminal 'Din Dayal', who to a large extent got away with the murder of the hero (only to be foiled by a duplicate, this has been a regular bane for Hindi Film villains), and he commanded his gang with great authority.

And of course, off screen he made the life of a generation of men named Robert and women named Mona hell. Which other Gangster Boss has been able to break the fourth-wall thus!

Passing Mention

A Gangster Boss who did not get to show a lot of gangster-giri in the film, but needs mention here because of the way he caricatures an entire era of filmy villains is the Sentimental Don Anthony Gomez from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa

Goga Kapoor, Rest In Peace,
PS : If you liked reading about these gangsters, do check the other end of the spectrum in our article on Filmy Policemen


{ Rajat } at: May 25, 2012 at 10:54 PM said...

Great post dude! Keep it up

{ Aman } at: May 26, 2012 at 1:14 PM said...

Just love reading ur articles... fan demand, can u do an article on 90s music... likes of Sameers, Kumar Shanus and Nadeem Shravan.. wud be fun to read i guess :)

{ king casanova } at: June 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM said...

why just 90s music...let the theme be the Bolly-Music...
and yea, where did our vivek oberoi went missing..after all he has portrayed the gangster-giri involving roles to much more perfection than the hero-typos..
cheers :)

{ amit } at: August 15, 2012 at 6:02 AM said...

really nice one..lage rho..

{ Rohan Chakravarty } at: September 7, 2012 at 2:32 AM said...

*Applauding Goga Kapoor's Gomez' mention in the end*

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