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The big gang theory
I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse. " Who doesn't remember Marlon Brando's unforgettable line from Godfather, the Hollywood cult classic rated top among the best gangster films. Today, Bollywood too can boast of a long list of fine mafia movies. Almost all of them have been received well at the box office. Amitabh Bachchan may have found great popularity in his roles as an upright officer, but his underworld characters in films like Don, Deewar, Agneepath and Kaalia got him resounding applause.
Bollywood can never have enough of films on the underworld. Ace actor Ajay Devgn, who has essayed the role of the ganster Mallik Bhai to perfection in Ram Gopal Varma's Company, says audiences are fascinated by the life stories of ganglords. "These days, we have far fewer gangster films than we did in the 1970s because the underworld was very active in those years. Films always reflect social reality. There are far fewer gangs now, " says the actor who won accolades for his portrayal of Sultan Mirza, a smuggler, in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. "The underworld and its power fascinate everyone. Many people aspire to be powerful like, say Dawood, was. "
Contemporary Bollywood dons belong to two popular categories: Mumbai based baddies and those that operate in the north, mostly UP and Bihar. Films like Zilla Ghaziabad (starring Vivek Oberoi, Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi) and Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur featuring Manoj Bajpayee belong to the latter category. While Zilla Ghaziabad recreates the rivalry between two reallife gangs in Ghaziabad, Gangs of Wasseypur is about the coal mafia in Jharkhand.
Trade analyst and veteran journalist Vinod Mirani feels that films on Mumbai gangsters fare better at the box office. "Audiences can relate better to Mumbai dons because this metro is so hyperactive it seems like a perfect setting for every kind of drama. Filmmakers can experiment with Mumbai storylines, add elements of fiction if they wish to, " he says. And this seems evident in case of films like Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai, which turned out to be a blockbuster. Vaastav starring Sanjay Dutt as Raghu bhai won the actor many accolades.
Bejoy Nambiar, who directed Shaitan, says gangster films are driven by good scripts;it does not matter where they are located. "The audience just looks for a good script, and a good character they can connect to. Whether the location is Mumbai or north India, is immaterial. "
Among producers and directors, mafia movies are a favourite genre. "Eight out of ten filmmakers want to make films based on the story of some gangster or the other. It is a genre that offers scope for both drama and action. And there is always an audience for such films, " says Nambiar whose next venture David is partly based on a gangster story.
Agneepath is the first mafia movie of the year and it will be followed by many such films. Apart from Zilla Ghaziabad and Gangs of Wasseypur, there is the sequel to Once Upon A Time In Mumbai. Sanjay Gupta too will be return to direction with Shootout At Wadala which will tell the story of the notorious urban dacoit Manya Surve. The film stars John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Kangna Ranaut, Tusshar Kapoor, and Ronit Roy.
With inputs from Ankita Kanabar
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