This was retweeted by a few people so got my attention. It’s an interesting, if very long, article on South Indian cinema Villains. (Sorry the font size is so small but I am unable to change it).
Reign of Evil
Reduced to caricatures in Hindi films, Bollywood baddies are now turning South to take villainy to new heights.
BY Rahul Jayaram of Open Magazine
In early 2002, Mukesh Rishi endured what he considers his “most uncomfortable” moment as an actor. On the sets of Telugu flick Indra, he was spitting fire in dubbed Telugu at reigning Andhra superstar Chiranjeevi. At one juncture while filming—Rishi playing the bellicose ‘zamindar’ and Chiranjeevi ever the age-defying mass hero—something “unbelievably disturbing” seemed to unfold. The director explained the subsequent scene. In the upcoming frame, Chiranjeevi would finish off both Isaac Newton and Usain Bolt in one blow: he’d jump on the road and roll on the ground to save Rishi’s school-going son from a truck at full speed. But Rishi wouldn’t melt. Indeed, he would have to kill his own son as the child was “touched by the hand of his enemy”.
Rishi had led a fascinating, if tough, life so far. He had grown up in Jammu, had run a stone-crushing business in Bombay, later gone to New Zealand, where he walked the ramp and got married to a Fijian of Indian origin. He returned to India in the late 1980s, first to debut in Bengali cinema, and then work in Hindi films before taking up Telugu assignments in the 2000s. But even he, with experience as rugged as his countenance, hadn’t heard something like this.
“I told the director, ‘Sir, this is wrong. I’m not comfortable doing this.’” The Telugu moviemaker, Gopal B, did a Raj Thackeray on him. “You’re from the North, you wouldn’t know what clicks with an audience in the South. Do as I say.” Rishi obeyed. He went on to impale the innocent child with a sword in front of his family. As cinema, it was intended as a display of brutal feudalism. In truth, it seemed to put actual ‘zamindars’ in the shade.