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Bollywood revenge dramas: Do films like Bhoomi and Mom make for a perfect comeback?

Sanjay Dutt and Sridevi are the latest among Bollywood A-listers to have returned in leading roles after a long gap — and they all have chosen to play a parent in a revenge drama. We figure out why.

bollywood Updated: Aug 02, 2017 12:05 IST
Rishabh Suri
Rishabh Suri
Hindustan Times
Raveena Tandon,Sridevi,Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Actor Sanjay Dutt’s poster of his upcoming revenge drama film Bhoomi. His last role was in PK (2014).

Sanjay Dutt in the upcoming film Bhoomi and Sridevi in Mom have something in common with Raveena Tandon in Maatr (2017) and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Jazbaa (2015). All of them were among the most sought-after lead actors of their time; were absent from the big screen for a while; and then made — or will make, in Sanjay’s case — an impactful comeback by playing a parent in a revenge drama.

Sridevi’s last film, the acclaimed English Vinglish, released five years ago. Aishwarya’s return as a leading lady came five years after her stunning performance as Sofia D’Souza in Guzaarish. Sanjay’s last memorable roles were as Kancha Cheena in Agneepath five years ago and a terrific cameo in PK (2014). Raveena has worked on and off over the years, but in roles that barely made any ripples after her last big film, LoC: Kargil, which released 14 years ago.

All of them made headlines when they played characters who go all out for revenge after their child is harmed or threatened. Is this, then, the perfect comeback role? Bollywood trade analyst Atul Mohan explains, “Actors wanting to come back to films choose differently. They are offered a host of options and scripts by writers, but they deliberately choose a film where they can explore so many elements: drama, anger, and revenge.”

Sridevi in a still from the 2017 film Mom.

Mohan adds that it is because of the easy emotional connect with families that makes these actors project themselves as a parent. “It is a deliberate attempt by stars to appeal to the audience. Action, when mixed with emotions, allows them to portray a different image in front of the viewers,” he says.

Actor Raveena Tandon in a still from Maatr (2017).

Raveena, who played the titular role of a mother in Maatr, out to take revenge on the people who raped and killed her daughter, feels that the choice of such roles shouldn’t be seen only as a manipulative strategy. “I can’t speak for others, but personally, I took up such a role in Maatr because I have three daughters myself, and had faced molestation in my younger years. This role allowed me to show the frustration of the common man who does not get justice, due to so many loopholes in the law of our country,” she says. About the decision to play a parent specifically for her return as the lead actor, she adds, “I’m proud that actors of our generation have finally grown up and evolved, having realised that we have to play our real age, and not do roles where we are still 16!”

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a still from Jazbaa (2015).

While many might see this as a trend, Sanjay Gupta, director of Jazbaa, says that it is merely a coincidence that all these films have top actors returning in lead roles as avenging parents. “Actors don’t look at this aspect specifically. The only thing they have in mind is that it should be a good script,” says Gupta.

Sridevi had said something similar in a past interview, “I wasn’t consciously planning to pick up anything for better relatability with the audience. When something comes to me and touches my heart, I do it.”

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First Published: Aug 02, 2017 12:05 IST