Friday, August 17, 2012

The Bad Guy!!

In most fairy tales, stories, novels, plays and movies the most common pattern of narration employed is the characterization of the Hero(protagonist) -Villain(antagonist) pair. We all like a Hero who saves the day, stands for all that is righteous in the world, helps those in dire need and stops the antagonist in his tracks when he/she is conniving or implementing a sinister plan usually to destroy cities, kill people or cause destruction - large scale or otherwise. In the end it is usually the hero who steals the limelight leaving the villain regretting his misdeeds or usually dead; but lets do an autopsy of the Hero - Villain complex shall we?

Villain Royalty Free Stock Vector Art Illustration

I for one have always believed that the mastery of a story teller resonates in the manner in which he/she designs the Anti Hero or the Antagonist - which you can clearly notice in most Best selling books, movies and stories. For instance the Harry Potter series which had an excellent Anti Hero character in Lord Voldemort who gave the teenage wand wielding wizard Harry Potter ample opportunities to unearth the dormant heroism lying within him is something that will be appreciated say even 50 years down the road because the tale of Harry Potter is something I believe transcends age.

Movies on the other hand are a completely different cup of tea altogether. If books focus on maximizing the grey shade element on the antagonist; movies make them look like the latest escapees from a Home for the Mentally challenged. They are often made to look like mindless buffoons who seem to have all the resources in terms of money, political clout, intellect and influence at the beginning of the movie but a hero who 9.9 times out of 10 rises from dust will relieve them of their everything in the last half an hour of the movie not to mention that he usually has his way with the daughter or sister of the villain as well - talk about adding insult to injury.

Indian movie villains across languages are my pet peeve; most of whom are portrayed to be scarily moustached fat rich business men or landlords who usually have the heroes working under them either as their right hand men or as their sons. Now it becomes the prerogative of the writers to sell you 'the villain is pure evil' line so as to lay the foundation for the biblical reminder - Good always triumphs over evil. As a thumb rule they usually end up bringing in a bimbo love interest into the mix - primarily for a multitude of  activities; the most important of which involves running around random trees in a song and whom the villain can at his own sweet convenience abduct or even kill when he deems her presence unnecessary which mind you he never does. Resulting in the hero almost always swearing vengeance at the villain in front of an idol of his favorite deity to the resounding background score of ringing temple bells due to the fiercely blowing wind on an intense thundershower night.

Not surprisingly I am a sucker for movies or stories that have a great bad guy in the mix - the likes of which include Professor James Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes, Agent Smith in The Matrix or Bob Biswas in Kahaani among many many more; simply because their character sketches were done so brilliantly and that they complemented the net plot of the story or the movie. Female villainesses are not too far behind either - they are shown to be dashingly beautiful ladies who wear designer clothes and flirt perennialy with danger and take pride in pulling one over on the protagonist.     

When I was little and boys my age dreamt of being the next Shahrukh Khan; I had it fixed in my pea sized brain that I was the next big villain waiting to burst into the scene - yes, I'm very realistic that way - I know. Come to think of it - who wouldn't want to be a bratty, snotty rich person who has servants that answer to my every beck and call, drive costly cars, dress up in a gaudy night suit with a vintage hand crafted smoking pipe in my mouth and almost always have my way with any woman I want as opposed to being a HERO who firstly has to appear for the entire 3 odd hours of the movie, get beaten black, blue and god knows what shade of green on multiple occasions, fight several hoards of men sent by the villain, be the beacon of righteousness and finally barely but only very barely mind you; end up on the winning side minus half the family who if we remember well the villain finishes off - did I hear someone say BUZZKILL?

While expecting the villain to come up trumps at the end of a story would be a practical impossibility and considering the dime a dozen dozen shoddy movies that come into our cinemas every month I realistically don't see the quality of villains on the silver screen or otherwise going up drastically but one is legally allowed to be an eternal optimist, right?

Lets raise a toast to those poor misdirected souls who believe in upsetting the balance of the apple cart and upholding something that is not exactly righteous for it is them who make Heroes out of ordinary men and women. 

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