It’s not enough to be a hero anymore; more than often, the anti-hero appears more exciting and these actors know that all too well
‘Once a hero, always a hero’ may be a phenomenon for some but for those who dare, turning over to the dark side is a challenge worth taking. Be it Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns, Edward Norton in The Italian Job, Morgan Freeman in Now You See Me, Jack Nicholson in The Departed, Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained, Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Jason Statham in Furious 7 or Mel Gibson and Jean Claude Van Damme in The Expendables franchise, many good guys have set the precedent by going bad in Hollywood. In Bollywood, the list features John Abraham in Dhoom, Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom 2, Aamir Khan in Dhoom 3 as well as Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar, Darr and more recently in Fan.
What about actors this side of the border? Pakistan’s actors have a tendency of being stereotyped and they do die a hero if they’ve lived like one. Doesn’t it seem that they always end up as righteous men because their fans will not accept them as baddies? Wrong!
Pakistan’s first hero-turned-villain Aslam Pervez once said, "Everybody wants to play hero; no one wants to play the villain because it’s more difficult to play." Of course, it is difficult since you don’t get the girl, you have to bear the brunt of the hero’s punches and above all, face negative feedback from the public. That’s why after a handful of good looking villains made it to screens in the ‘60s - Aslam Pervez, Mustafa Qureshi (he was very good looking) and Masood Akhtar - even the leading men decided to risk playing baddies.
Apart from the legendary Mohammad Ali who started his career on the dark side, Nadeem was the first one to don moustache for Suhaag where he played a jilted lover and later play the rapist in Samaaj besides roles with shades of grey including Shama. Waheed Murad played the bad guy in Sheeshay Ka Ghar while in the ‘90s, Javed Sheikh turned bad in Jo Darr Gaya Woh Marr Gaya and later in Ghar Kab Aao Gay. When Shaan was down on his luck in the ‘90s, he attempted a comeback as a villain (Ghunghat) and Babar Ali followed suit (Ghar Kab Aao Gay, Yeh Dil Aapka Huwa), garnering praise for their daring decision. Recently, a trend has started on TV and film where handsome hunks try to break stereotypes and become eligible to earn the wrath of the public, which comes with the decision to go bad.
Instep takes a look at some prominent actors who dared to experiment with their onscreen avatars…
The good-looking kid who debuted in Sangeeta’s Nikaah has now become one of the leading actors in the country. He first turned bad guy with Sarmad Khoosat’s Paani Jaisa Pyar (2011) where he violated Saba Qamar’s character only to be murdered by her brother played by Babrak Shah. In Mehreen Jabbar’s Neeyat the same year, his character had shades of grey and was quite successful despite running the risk of being overshadowed by Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan (both in the cast). But the actor crossed all boundaries in Ehteshamuddin’s Udaari recently by appearing as a child molester. In the first few episodes, he gains the trust of his bhabi by being the model brother and later proposes to her so that she and her kid can live with the security of having a ‘man’ in the house. Little did Samiya Mumtaz’s character know that her new husband will molest her daughter but she can’t be blamed - the audience also wasn’t expecting Ahsan Khan to go down that path! The actor (and the Udaari team) is now being lauded for taking the responsibility for making people aware of sexual abuse and breaking away from the saas-bahu sagas.
Ayaz Samoo started his career as a standup comedian and later became a VJ; he did cross over to India during the initial part of his career and won many fans in the process. However, he broke the shackles of being a comedian/VJ and turned badass in Moor last year. Not only did he manage to win an award for ‘Best Villain’ but he also won praise from all quarters for being the perfect foil to Shaz Khan, the method actor from America. Just imagine what Samoo would have achieved had his role as a commando in 021 not been cut out of the final version of the film. The actor this year went a step ahead and co-wrote the script of Aksbandh, Pakistan’s first film in the found-footage genre.
Hassan Niazi’s portrayal of a politician is the main reason why Maalik has been taken off the screens by the government. He is so convincing in some scenes as the conniving Chief Minister that you tend to forget that he is an actor playing the character. Before turning bad in Maalik, he practiced the art on TV and succeeded but that wasn’t always the case. He was once the loveable Azar in Azar Ki Aayegi Baraat and also played an integral part in many TV plays including some that are currently on air. Let’s see whether he goes back to the good guy or explores his dark side in the future.
Humayun Saeed appeared in a shady role for the first time in 1999 (Samina Peerzada’s Inteha) and was pitted against the handsome Zeeshan Sikandar. With his powerful performance, Humayun completely took control of the movie, in which all he wanted was Sara’s attention (Sara being Meera!). After that, he continued to play the good guy on TV and went onto become one of the most recognizable faces in the country until Mahesh Bhatt’s Jashnn - The Music Within (2010) where he made Indian and Pakistani audiences hate him for being the guy who stops at nothing to bring the hero down.
Within six months, he was back as the man-you-would-love-to-hate, this time on Geo Entertainment’s Uraan where he played a psychologist who marries and divorces Ayesha (Saba Qamar), marries and divorces Sawera (Zhalhay Sarhadi) and proposes to TV anchor Sana (Aamina Sheikh). Needless to say, the Doctor Faraz character was exposed as a fraud, but he played both sides of the picture to perfection. When he wanted, he was tender and gentle; when he wasn’t in the mood, he was on fire, literally! Similarly in Kaafir, he played an atheist seeking revenge from the heroine for insulting him and here again, he was both the protagonist and antagonist! Now, in the coming months, Humayun Saeed will play his first full-fledged villain in Hasan Waqas Rana’s Yalghaar, where he will go against the likes of Shaan, Adnan Siddiqui and Bilal Ashraf to name a few. There is no news of Hamza Ali Abbasi’s directorial debut Kambakht, where Humayun plays a one-eyed militant opposite Sheheryar Munawwar, Sohai Ali Abro and the director himself.
On TV he is usually the good guy who solves everyone’s problem (recently in Yeh Junoon); on film screens he is the problem! Shamoon Abbasi has been around since the late ‘90s but usually played either comic roles or full-throttle action ones. His film debut happened in 2010 with Faisal Bukhari’s Bhai Log where he was one of the few ‘good’ gangsters. All changed when Waar happened where he stunned all by playing a cold blooded killer who set a man on fire as soon as he entered the story. He was a master of disguise who was paid to wreak havoc but couldn’t succeed as Shaan was his pursuer. In his second movie 021 where he was pitted against Shaan again, Shamoon’s character was shaded although his role was cut down to a mere guest appearance. The actor is all set to appear in Sawaal 700 Crore Dollar Ka, the trailer of which suggests that he is playing a good guy for a change - but looks can be deceiving!
"Everyone wants to be the good guy on screen in Pakistan; not many are willing to play the bad guy because it doesn’t look good on their resume," Shamoon oopined. "Performing roles with shades of grey doesn’t make me a bad guy so when I am offered such roles, they find me willing. Also, I guess no one fills the bad guy slot better than I do (smiles)."
He has a voice to die for but his acting is equally mesmerizing - Zahid Ahmed hasn’t been around for long but in his very first year as a TV actor, he managed to direct the audience’s hatred
towards him. In Sangat, he played the guy who rapes Saba Qamar’s character during a break-in, whereas in Alvida he is the psychopath who makes life hell for his wife (played by Sanam Jung) after getting to know that she is still in love with her ex (Imran Abbas). For someone who became famous for playing Quaid-e-Azam in Anwar Maqsood’s theatre plays, Zahid Ahmed is full of surprises! Currently his good side is on air in Besharam and Zara Yaad Kar, two plays that are doing exceedingly well but earlier this year, the award he took home was for his negative acting.