“Kuch bhi karne ka, lekin Jaikant Shikre ki ego ko hurt nahi karne ka.” For those of us who have sat through a viewing of 'Singham' at any point in time, can easily recall how efficiently Jaikant Shikhre aka Prakash Raj delivered this dialogue and packed it with enough spite and hatred to make the audience take him for the notorious gangster he was portraying on-screen.
© Reliance Entertainment
Prakash Raj seems to have taken it upon himself to redefine what it means to be a “villain” or “antagonist” in movies given the present scenario in Bollywood, where we have seen Hindi cinema grow leaps and bounds in recent times with films such as 'Badhai Ho', 'Andhadhun', 'Pad Man', 'Hitchki', 'October' and the likes making it big at the box office.
The changing times have not only seen an evolved audience, but also a more well-rounded development of the modern day “villain” or grey character in filmmaking. Gone are the days of cult villains like Mogambo, Crime Master Gogo and Bad Man, who became popular in their time for the over the top notorious antics they pulled off, which was in keeping with the demands of the audience requirements.
The fool proof style-sheet of the time required screenwriters and filmmakers to present a villain who could evoke emotions of terror, fear and loathing from the audience. However, with the coming of “villains” such as the ones Prakash Raj has brought to life on-screen, the Bollywood villain has undergone a quick makeover.
The neo-Bollywood villain is quite similar to the old-school Shakaal(s), but they come with a touch of realness that is precious to the audience who is trying to relate to the grey characters as much as the hero/heroine in the movie. And Prakash Raj wonderfully manages to balance that black and white in the characters he portrays.
© Eros International
Raj's depiction of these “villains” and grey characters come out as most human and realistic ones in cinema right now. He happens to be one of those artists who can best bring out the many shades of an antagonist within a narrative, and do justice to all the darkness that is hidden within its folds, without making it seem over-the-top or fictional.
Prakash Raj is a celebrated actor down South, and both the Tamil and Telugu film industry hails him as a fine actor, who is a master of his craft. It was back in 1994 when Prakash made his Tamil film debut, but it was 'Naagmandala' in 1997 that finally put him under the spotlight. There was no looking back for Prakash Raj after that.
However, it was in 2009 that Prakash Raj ventured into Bollywood as Gani Bhai in Salman Khan starrer 'Wanted', and Bollywood found its newest villain it could trust with their lives (read films). That was followed by one of his most memorable negative roles in 'Singham', and Bachcha Singh in 'Dabangg 2'. We also saw him do his thing as Shetty in 'Mumbai Mirror' and later on 'Policegiri' as Nagori.
Regardless of the films he is a part of, Prakash Raj manages to carve his own niche within the film, and a dedicated fan following with his strong and convincing performances. He is the modern day, sophisticated villain who can easily transform into a suave yet lethal tormentor. Yet, his portrayal of a nemesis evoke more than just anger and terror within our hearts.
Prakash Raj has quickly become Bollywood's trusted and most likeable villain, because he does justice to every grey character he dons, and brings much more to the silver screen than a character which is here to ruin everything that is good in the leading actor and actress' life.