Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rishi Kapoor's Rauf Lala -Evil Glee of a Seasoned Debauch

Recently released Bollywood revenge saga Agneepath ( is an intelligent reinterpretation of the earlier movie which got Amitabh Bachchan a national award. I liked the movie, mainly for some of the best performances by the actors in recent Hindi movies. While everybody gave a decent account of themselves, villains stole the show. Sanjay Dutt was a dark presence overarching the movie with sinister ugliness however, it was Rishi Kapoor who gets my vote for the best performance of the movie.
Sanju Baba has just to stand and grin and his personality does most of work. It is not to take anything away from his performance. He did a stupendous job as ‘Kanchaa’. A classical villain with no redeeming factor- instilling terror with his looks, actions and words. He was not just good but almost great. If his personality is doing most of the work, that is a sign of good actor. He is commanding his strong points to the service of his character and succeeding splendidly. His histrionics has evolved a great deal from a clueless boy of ‘Vidhata ‘ trying to emote in front of the doyens like Dilip Kumar, Sanjeev kumar and Shammi Kapoor. He is a mature actor who is straddling genres of comedy, action and sentimental roles. More about him in future posts.
Back to Rauf Lala of Rishi Kapoor- a child trafficker, ruthless drug lord oozing menace and cunning underlined by pathological megalomania. Rishi Kapoor, the original chocolate boy, an actor of great competence but could not experiment beyond a point because of his looks and image. Here he is plumbing the ugly depths of evil with relish of a seasoned debauch. Watching his cherubic charms turning into black mask of evil glee is pleasure rarely afforded by Bollywood. Rauf Lala is a masterly portrayal of a kingpin who is attractive due to undiluted nature of his negativity. He is grand in his own way but splendor provides only a very thin crust under which violence lurks. Meanness is not encumbered by the demands of generosity to his minions that his emperor like persona evokes. He is lethal as a druglord retaining the discipline, nimbleness and cunning of a street fighter. His auctions of children are chilling to the bone. When he is angry, it has an impact as it promises sure violence. His death was one of the defining scenes of the movie. He was doing his trademark auction of the hero’s sister. He is seething with revenge but enjoying what he does so well. His choice of words, inflections on the most devious sides of the evil trade is stuff of nightmare. When he realizes that hero has broken his barricade and has rescued the child and is about to spare him, he turns on magical moments of death wish by a lifelong sinner. He takes his evil penchant to a level where hero is compelled to take him out. His last giggle as his mentally challenged son beats the hero to spare his father cements a towering performance.
In the times of anti hero, classical villains have taken recourse to comedy to stay relevant. Here, in a remake, we get a resounding testimony of place of a villain to complete the binary logic for the hero. Both Dutt and Rishi kapoor performed that in a masterly fashion. Notwithstanding hamming that is integral to Bollywood grammar of acting, this is one hour of triumph.
Kapoor is doing best work of his life in his second coming. His performances in Patiala House and Do Dooni Char needs more careful appraisal. One of the finest actors of his generation is finally getting his chance.

-Dhiraj Singh


  1. Bhai....tum ekdum movie critic ho gaye ho....Ye sach hai ki chocolate se lal mirchi wo bhi badsoorat wala hone bahut bada transformation hota your article is a nice reading all the way... Thanks.

  2. Yes, Rishi Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt were the movie. So was one of the background songs (abhi mujhmein kahin baaki thodi si hai zindagi). I was left with a feeling though that the movie could do with an A certificate from the censors.