Sholay and Mr India's villains, unlike Shahrukh Khan's Raees, had a lot more going against them.
With Raees only days from releasing, Shahrukh Khan’s fans are excited to see whether Raees will take the place of Bollywood’s two most famous villains – Gabbar and Mogambo. We get where this theory comes from – after all, we know that Shahrukh can do negative roles as amazingly as he does positive ones. Still, not to doubt Shahrukh’s acting abilities, but Raees doesn’t have one key ingredient which makes it impossible for him to challenge Sholay or Mr India’s iconic villains.
Both movies had very clear boundaries between good and bad, right down to basic physical features – the good guys looked good, the bad guys looked bad. Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra were the clear heroes in Sholaly and Anil Kapoor in Mr India. Raees, on the other hand, is not so much a villain as he is an anti-hero, meaning he’s still the movie’s protagonist with a few bad (but easily overlooked) qualities. The antagonist in Raees is ironically the traditional good guy – a cop.
What made Gabbar and Mogambo such memorable villains was that despite having to contend with the good looking heroes with good morals, they still held their own. That’s no small achievement. Raees doesn’t have that challenge – Rahul Dholakia is clearly siding with the gangster, who has sex appeal, a girlfriend and sympathy, so that the audience is rooting for him right from the start. If anything, it’ll be be a struggle for Nawazuddin Siddiqui to get the audience on his side.
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Raees might go down as one of Shahrukh’s best performances, but one of Bollywood’s best villains? We think not. On SRK’s resume, that honor would still go to his role in Darr where he was the decided bad guy who upstaged a dashing, good looking hero.