After the successful release of the 2014 film Singham Returns, Bollywood fans were reminded of the powerful presence that Ajay Devgn commands on the silver screen.
Previously, we looked at the many times he took on the role of police officer in his films. But he has also taken on a negative roles - that of a mafioso, gangster, criminal.
As in any crime story, these films contain scenes which are gritty and bloody. But if you are new to Bollywood and enjoy crime dramas, here are five films to watch starring Ajay Devgn as a man on the wrong side of the law.
Release Date: 15 April 2002
Director: Ram Gopal Varma | Screenplay by: Jaideep Sahni
Music by: Sandeep Chowta
Description: Under the leadership of underworld Don Aslam Bhai (Madan Joshi) flourishes a criminal empire in Bombay. His close associates are Malik (Ajay Devgn) and Chandrakant Nagre a.k.a. "Chandu" (Vivek Oberoi). Awaiting the right opportunity, Malik and Chandu take over from Aslam and become the two heads of his criminal empire. They decide to legitimize their empire, dubbing it the "Company". Despite their friendship, differences and misunderstandings develop between the two and Chandu breaks away from the gang. A large scale gang war erupts between those loyal to Chandu on one side and those loyal to Malik on the other.
Why I Love This Film: Malik's cool and calm personality makes him the perfect leader for expanding the "export-import" enterprise that is the Company. As Malik's close friend and colleague, Chandu is supportive, even if he has a tendency to fly off the handle. While Malik measures every action before initiating new plans, Chandu is quick to jump to conclusions. It is the difference in the personalities of these two men that make them the perfect partners - and adversaries.
Recognition: Won, Filmfare Critics' Award for Best Actor and Star Screen Award for Best Actor.
English Translation: "Obsession"
Release Date: 25 October 2002
Director: Anees Bazmee
Music by: Ismail Darbar
Description: Raj Goyal (Akshaye Khanna) is a hot shot criminal lawyer and idealist. He meets Sargam (Urmila Matondkar), a beautiful and successful singer. When her manager and benefactor Ashwin Mehta (Vijayendra Ghatge ) is brutally murdered the case seems to be open and shut. But Sargam comes to Raj with an unusual request - to defend Taran Bhardwaj (Ajay Devgn), the man accused of the crime who is also a brilliant musician and her childhood friend and mentor. With the help of a psychiatrist (Seema Biswas), Raj soon discovers that Taran suffers from split personality disorder and doesn't recall the incident. To prove his client's innocence, his investigations drag him deeper and deeper into a quagmire of mystery full of deadly secrets.
Why I Love This Film: The first half of the film features a bloody murder followed by a courtroom drama. Evidence is introduced that implicates Tarang, yet is quickly dismissed by the idealistic Raj who sees Taran as more of a victim than a criminal. The second half of the film features a deadly cat-and-mouse game among our protagonists. The personality changes and methods used by Taran to achieve his goal keep the story engaging throughout. Loosely based on the Hollywood film Primal Fear, this film expands the story and delves deeper into the lives and motivation of each of the characters.
Recognition: Won, Filmfare Best Villain Award, Star Screen Award for Best Villain and Zee Cine Award Best Actor in a Negative Role.
Release Date: 23 January 2004
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Music by: Ram Sampath
Description: DCP Anant Shrivastav (Amitabh Bachchan) has been assigned the mission to escort terrorist Iqbal Ansari (Atul Kulkarni) from Chandangarh to Mumbai. Anant's team consists of Inspector Shekhar Sachdev (Akshay Kumar), rookie cop Ashwin Gupte (Tusshar Kapoor) and two more inspectors. The trip turns into survival when the team is attacked by an unknown enemy who they soon learn is Yashwant Angre (Ajay Devgn), a ruthless killer and former police officer. As the tale unfolds, the officers realize that Iqbal and they are only pawns in bigger story.
Why I Love This Film: This story doesn't portray police officers as perfect and powerful, disseminating justice with a gun and a fist. Each one of these cops is human and flawed. Despite their flaws, they work together to fulfill a mission that seems doomed from the start. One of the best cop movies coming out of Bollywood, this film features an excellent cast with one of the best villains in Yashwant Angre. He is driven and dispassionate, which makes him a formidable threat.
Recognition: Nominated, Filmfare Award for Best Villain.
English Translation: "Kidnapping"
Release Date: 2 December 2005
Director: Prakash Jha
Music by: Wayne Sharpe
Description: Ajay Shastri (Ajay Devgn) aspires for a job in the police force, which is his ticket to a future of power, respectability, social status and a secure life with his childhood sweetheart Megha Basu (Bipasha Basu). Tragically his desperate attempt at success is derailed by his father, Professor Raghuvansh Shastri (Mohan Agashe). Dejected and disillusioned, Ajay is drawn into a dark world of kidnapping for profit. He eventually joins forces with self-proclaimed minority political leader Tabrez Alam (Nana Patekar). Under Tabrez's tutelage, Ajay soon tastes success and power.
Why I Love This Film: The dysfunctional father-son relationship in this story is the driving force behind Ajay's descent into the criminal world. Even as he carries out his heinous acts, you know enough about him to feel he still has a moral compass even if it has been temporarily buried. The conclusion of this good-guy-gone-bad story is one that sticks with you long after the credits have ended.
5. Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai
Release Date: 30 July 2010
Director: Milan Luthria | Written by: Rajat Arora
Music by: Pritam | Lyrics by: Irshad Kamil, Neelesh Misra, Amitabh Bhattacharya
Description: Seen through the eyes of Assistant Commissioner of Police Agnel Wilson (Randeep Hooda), the film traces the changing face of the Mumbai underworld and how it all started. Set in 1970s Mumbai, this fictionalized account shows the rise of smuggler Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgn) and the conflict that ensues when his protege Shoaib Khan (Emraan Hashmi) challenges his supremacy and usurps power to rule the murky underbelly of Mumbai.
Why I Love This Film: The charismatic Sultan Mirza is both brave and compassionate and his love for the people and the city of Mumbai is reflected in all his dealings. Impulsive Shoaib Khan is only interested in achieving power and riches for himself. The costumes, hair and makeup, and sets are designed in a glamorous retro chic style. Dressed in white throughout the film, Sultan Mirza stands out against the colorful backdrop of Mumbai in the 70s. The award-winning soundtrack of the film features several memorable melodies and is one you'll want to listen to repeatedly.
Quote: "When we can be friends, then why be enemies?" - Sultan Mirza
Recognition: Won, Stardust Award for Best Thriller (Action Actor); Won, Lions Favorite Popular Actor (Male); Won, Global Indian Film and Television Honours Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male); Nominated, Filmfare Award for Best Actor; Nominated, BIG Star Most Entertaining Film Actor (Male); Nominated, Stardust Award for Star of the Year (Male); Nominated, Apsara Award for Best Actor; Nominated, Best Actor (Male).
Don't know which film to watch first? The following video playlist includes trailers each of these films.
If you liked this, check out our other Friday Five or Ajay Devgn posts.