A great villain oozes out power, charisma and authority that every individual feels attracted to, for one and one reason only: the crushing monotony of everyday life has taken him away from his primal needs, the need to control, the need to assert power, and the need to make the unpredictable-predictable. In the hand of a great director, the villain transforms from a simple caricature of a man that laughs maniacally sitting in his lair that has no backstory, to a menacing force of antagony that even the harshest critic could root for.

Bollywood too has had its fair share of iconic villains, from: Mogambo in Mr. India, to Gabbar Singh in Shola, and yet there are villains that go under the radar. Sometimes because of the scale of the story of the film or sometimes the hero’s glorified end.

Today, we are going to share with you the top 5 underrated bollywood villains:

  1. Ramadhir Singh, Gangs of Wasseypur, Played by Tigmanshu Dhuliya

Anurag Kashyap’s signature genre of gangster films was notorious for painting a big, bad man’s world. Gangs Of Wasseypur his crime opus is the only Indian film to make it to the list of The Guardian’s list of top 100 films. It was ranked higher than Dark Knight, about which Anurag said that the Hollywood film deserves to be way up.

This two-part crime film tells the story of three generations of families of gangsters and politician fight for power in Wasseypur region in Dhanbad. With complex characters, hard-hitting plot twists and raw treatment, movie buffs across the world consider Gangs of Wasseypur as India’s answer to the Godfather. 

From Faisal Khan, a troubled teenager who climbed the power ladder of Wasseypur in thirst of revenge to Perpendicular, an equally power hungry albeit less humane individual, Wasseypur is ladened with iconic characters. But what made the movie work was Ramadhir Singh, our villain, played by supremely talented Tigmanshu Dhuliya.

In the film, Ramadhir plays the crucial role in plotting the descension of three generations of the Khan family. Ramadhir starts off with a few mines under his name and slowly but steadily goes on to build his own criminal empire, and eventually plots the downfall of three generations of the protagonists. 

A cold and calculating villain, Ramadhir was also equally relatable to the viewers as a disheartened father. “Tumse naa ho payega”, a dialogue that still is quoted by people was enough to show the viewers how even villains have to have “the talk” with their wayward sons. 

 2. Rauf Lala, Agneepath, Played by Rishi Kapoor

Agneepath, the name is enough to make any man carry out an impression of the angry young man, Amitabh Bachchhan as Vijay Deena Nath Chauhan. “Vijay Deenanath Chauhan”, another name that is enough to make a theater erupt with whistles and applause. Such has been the reputation of Agneepath, the 1990 revenge drama from Bollywood. 

To remake such an iconic film was sure to be a behemoth of a task, and director Karan Malhotra took to the job, and how! In the modern rendition of this classic, bulky and cold Sanjay Dutt playing Kancha Cheena, the ruthless lord of Mandva and Hritik Roshan playing Vijay Chauhan with such finesse that his thirst for revenge oozed out of the screen and touched every viewer. 

But the best addition done into the film was Rauf Lala, played by Rishi Kapoor. The late veteran actor played the distasteful character of a muslim female auctaineer. From kajal under his eyelids to a predatory grin, Rishi Kapoor transformed himself into a character that one would love to loath and yet couldn’t turn an eye away.

His delivery and menacing ways come to life in a scene where he conducts the auctioning of Vijay Chauhan’s sister. Rishi Kapoor, who was widely regarded as an actor who played love-struck characters delivered a masterful performance, instilling loath for his character and awe for his acting skills among the masses and critics alike. 

3. Lajja Shankar Pandey, Sangharsh, Played by Ashutosh Rana

Imagine a religious fanatic man who believes that killing young children will make him immortal. The mere thought of such an idea is sure to send shivers down our spine.

The 90s was one of the most pivotal years for Bollywood villains. From Rahul Mehra played by one of the most celebrated actors in the world Shahrukh Khan in Darr, playing the obsessive lover who can go to lengths to be with his lover, to the legendary Amrish Puri as Mogembo, Bollywood saw some iconic villains in 90s. But if we talk about the most terrifying villain in 90s, Ashutosh Rana’s Lajja Shankar terrorized a generation of 90s kids. 

Actor Ashutosh Rana showed the true testament of his acting chops by playing a religious fanatic who dresses as a eunuch, switching from warm to menacing in mere seconds. His blood curdling screams and loud chantings were nothing short of a nightmare. If you are not easily spooked, watch Sangharsh and let yourself be captivated by Rana’s performance. 

 4. Ishwar/Langda Tyagi: Omkara, Played by Saif Ali Khan

Bollywood has never had a shortage of films which has love as the driving force of the story. Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara turned this theme on its head and depicted in a world where one can compare the consequences of love: the love of a soldier and the love of a leader. 

A modern rendition of Shakespeare’s Othello, Omkara is set in an Indian society with themes like classism, deception, envy and love all intermingling. But the true success of Omkara came from the controlled acting of Saif Ali Khan who played the character of Langda Tyagi. Why langda? The character walks with a limp, it is a quirk that does not have a backstory and yet, remains etched in the minds of the movie goers. 

What also remains etched in their minds is how Saif balanced the line between playing a menacing character of Tyagi who is out for vengeance after he is not given the position of Bahubali in his town. There are scenes where the character’s resentment, anger and envy possesses him only for a second and vanishes as quickly as it came while he continues deceiving every character that comes along his way. 

 5. Isha Diwan, Gupt, Played by Kajol

Bollywood has been notorious for filmmakers painting a big world filled with big bad men. A world where there has been little to no space for complex, grey female characters. Gupt has been an exception in this world, an exception which filmmakers and writers should use as a reference and create stories with equally complicated and troubled female characters

Gupt: The Hidden Truth is a whodunnit film which revolves around the murder of a politician. More than a few plot twitsts up its sleeves, Gupt is regarded as one of the finest thrillers to come in the 90s. To talk more about the film will be going into the spoiler territory, but it would be an injustice if we talk about iconic underrated bollywood villains and not talk about Isha Diwan played by Kajol. Isha Diwan is the true embodiment of ‘Hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned.’ Kajol played this extremely complex characters that had shades of love, fury & agony with a flair and makes to our list for the same reason

Did we miss some iconic villains? Can you think of more underrated villains that graced the screens? Continue the story in the comments below!