Feb 18 2016

The unsung villains

by   Mayur Lookhar

Actors who played henchmen but never won the infamy they deserved

1  Sudhir

Born as Bhagwan Mulchand Luthria, actor Sudhir was a popular face in the 70s and 80s. He played henchmen to legendary villains like Pran, Ajit, and Premnath. In a career spanning close to five decades, Sudhir largely played the sidekick to the chief antagonist. He acted in nearly a dozen films with Amitabh Bachchan, playing one of the goons. There was one exception though when he played one of the six siblings of Amitabh Bachchan in Satte Pe Satta.

2 Mac Mohan

He will go down in history as the man who played ‘Sambha’ in the 1975 classic Sholay. Mohan Makijany came from Karachi to Mumbai to be a cricketer. Instead he ended up being an actor. He was fluent in many languages, including Russian, French, and Spanish. On the screen, Mac Mohan settled for negative roles in the supporting cast. He’s the only Indian actor who used his real name in reel life too. He acted in over 218 films including blockbusters like Don, Karz, Zanjeer and Shaan.

3 Manik Irani

How many villains can boast of being bashed up by heroes across generations? Late Manik Irani began his career as a goon in the 1974 Shashi Kapoor starrer Paap aur Punya and has since played the villain in all his films.
The big bad guy with a mean beard had become the favourite punching bag for stars like Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, and even Akshay Kumar. He was fondly known as Billa, a character he played in Subhash Ghai’s Hero.

He longed to become a hero, but that dream never materialised. Sadly, the actor passed away in the 90s.


4 Ajit Vachani

He didn’t have too long a career, but Ajit Vachani stood out for his reddish looks, and for playing a sidekick in some of the popular films like Mr India, Tridev, Qayamat se Qayamat Tak, and Maine Pyar Kiya. The audience cheered every time the hero turned his red face into a deeper shade of, well, red.

5 MB Shetty

He was bald, bulky and terrifying. Stunt director MB Shetty, father of Rohit Shetty, had all the traits of a villain and that is perhaps what must have led him to playing the role of a sidekick. In most of his films, Shetty played himself. Shetty is most famous for his cameo in Kalicharan.

6 Kamal Kapoor

His green snake-like eyes and fair skin made him look more like a KGB or Nazi baddie. Prithviraj Kapoor’s cousin, Kamal, acted in over 600 films, spanning across three languages.He started off as a hero but with little success. From the Sixties onwards, Kapoor switched to playing a minor villain. His notable work includes Don, Gora aur Kaala, and, of course, Mard, where he played the evil General Dyer.

7 Bob Christo

He was an Australian civil engineer who’d come to Mumbai while awaiting a work permit in Muscat. A chance meeting with Zeenat Aman led to him to try out a Bollywood baddie role. Hampered by his Hindi skills, Christo would be cast in select roles, playing a sidekick to the villain. He often played the evil British officer. Christo was part of several Amitabh Bachchan films like Toofan, Mard, Kaalia, and Agneepath.He acted in over 200 films, even featuring in South Indian and a few Punjabi films.

8 Tej Sapru

Tej Sapru hailed from a family of actors. His father DK Sapru and mother Hemvati had made their mark in Hindi cinema.  Tej Sapru had his father’s looks, and like him, he was largely cast in the supporting roles. Sapru was a common face in the 80s and 90s, playing minor villains. His popular films include Tridev, Zakhmi Aurat, Yudh and Vishwatma

9 Sharat Saxena

A veteran of over 200 films, Sharat Saxena began his journey in 1977 with Agent Vinod. Thereafter, he featured in small roles in big films like Kaala Patthar, Pukar, Des Pardes. In 1984, he was Mithun Chakraborty’s opponent in the Rambo-like drama Boxer. Perhaps, he would have hoped to play bigger and badder villainous roles, but sadly, Saxena continued to be typecast as a sidekick to the main villain. He was part of memorable films like Agneepath, Mr India, Ghayal, and Tridev. In1998, he was cast as the main antagonist in Aamir Khan starrer Ghulam, for which he even earned a Filmfare nomination.
Although, he’s experimented with comedy in films like Phir Hera Pheri, Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, and Hasee Toh Phasee, Saxena continues to be looked upon as actor who’s best suited to play the villain’s henchman.

10 Mahavir Shah

Not many would remember him by his name, but through the 80s and 90s, Gujarati theatre actor Mahavir Shah was playing many small villainous roles. Often he would be cast as the corrupt police officer, goon or a cruel brother-in-law. His popular films include Tezaab, Dayavan, Baaghi, Narsimha, Tirangaa, and Shola Aur Shabnam. Mahavir Shah was tragically killed in a car accident in Chicago in 2000.