Hathoda Tyagi, Bhopa Bhai, Taj, Ganesh Gaitonde: The evolving phase of villains, thanks to OTT | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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Hathoda Tyagi, Bhopa Bhai, Taj, Ganesh Gaitonde: The evolving phase of villains, thanks to OTT

ByRishabh Suri
Oct 30, 2021 05:19 PM IST

The fulcrum of any good plot is evil mastermind. But it is no longer the age of smuggler, gangster or mafia leader. OTT platforms are now moving away from the portrayal of stereotypical villains, and giving newer actors a chance to showcase their ability to play the antagonist.

The tale of good and evil is a theme that’s evergreen. Every hero has to have an anti-hero. Before the rise of the OTT space, the antagonist of Indian cinema was every bit stereotypical — tall, muscular with a deep voice along with a scar or something on his face, which he would have acquired when he committed truly unforgivable acts, possible with little to no remorse.

Actors Chandan Roy Sanyal and Abhishek Banerjee in stills from Sanak and Pataal Lok respectively.
Actors Chandan Roy Sanyal and Abhishek Banerjee in stills from Sanak and Pataal Lok respectively.

But now, the scene has evolved. Especially, when it comes to physical traits with actors as such as Namit Das, Akshay Oberoi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Chandan Roy Sanyal who make plans to subjugate or destroy the protagonist.

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Sanyal, who plays the antagonist in the recently released film, Sanak featuring Vidyut Jamwal as the lead, confesses that he wasn’t sure whether he would be a correct fir in front of a muscular hero. “I am not tall, all I have is above my shoulders. I used my imagination. When I was approached, I asked my director Kanishk ‘Are you sure?’ Vidyut is a well-built, tall guy. The makers took a chance, and I still managed to stand out,” says Sanyal.

The 41-year-old tells us, “Today’s villain is a normal guy, making his food, doing his chores. When I approach a role, I try and put the notion of whether it’s negative or positive, aside. I want to make the bad guy likeable, and move away from the clichés of casting.”

Kanishk, on the other hand, tells us that there was no apprehension when it came to casting a normal-looking guy as a villain. “OTT has really allowed us to experiment with casting. In fact, Vipul Shah, our producer suggested me this (to cast Sanyal). He was brilliant, and even when he was not sure if he would look right, I had faith he will pull it off. We only wanted him (to play the role),” he says.

Another perfect example of this phenomenon is Siddiqui, who without undergoing any physical transformation managed to grab eyeballs when he played the menacing villain, Ganesh Gaitonde in Sacred Games. Actor Abhishek Bannerjee as Hathoda Tyagi from Pataal Lok is another example.

According to actor Akshay Oberoi, who stepped into the shoes of a menacing antagonist, Taj, king-pin of human trafficking, in the web show Flesh, “This is a golden era.”

He notes that OTT space has done a great job in all aspects, be it casting or content being made. “[Through OTT] actors are getting a chance to display stuff which nobody else would have given them earlier,” shares Oberoi, adding that, “Hindi cinema tended to steer towards stereotyping because that would work. Movies and films, and web series are now not art made for commerce. People are making sure business is intact as well as there are experimentations.”

Actor namit Das agrees and admits that while he got a chance to play a character with grey shades in the movie Sui Dhaaga: Made in India (2018), it was web show Abhay that fully let him display his talent as a villain.

He says, “I would not want to restrict myself to being the stereotypical villain, or stereotypical anything! Everything depends on our stories. There is liberty now to cast so many actors in different characters. Otherwise, 10 years back, a villain walked into a room and looked like a villain. Same for the heroes. Whereas, now (with the rise of web as a medium), everyone is sitting in the same room and anyone could be exchanging roles. It has been a surprise, so yes, OTT has given actors an opportunity to become different people.”

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