India cinema's love affair with gangsters

India cinema's love affair with gangsters

KUALA LUMPUR - Many of the biggest Indian movies over the past few decades have revolved around the theme of criminal gangs.

Almost every major star in Indian cinema in recent times would count playing a gang-related character as one of their biggest successes, whether it is Amitabh Bachchan in Deewar (1975), Kamal Hassan in Nayagan (1987), Rajnikanth in Baasha (1995), Ajay Devgan in Company (2002) or Vijay in Pokkiri (2007).

It is no coincidence that storylines related to street crime and gangsters started becoming more prominent in Indian cinema in the early 1970s, a period which saw mass migrations of people from rural areas to the cities.

This also marked a time of economic, political and social crises, where the rise of poverty and corruption caused the public to lose faith in the government and the police force.

Alongside the growth of gangs came the belief that justice was far more easily sought outside of the legal system. It is this sentiment that is most often reflected, even today, in Indian gangster movies.

Although the movies have a tendency to glamorise their portrayal of gangsters, the plots typically also feature a strong sense of morality and justice.

There is usually a clear distinction made between the "noble" gangster - who turns to a life of crime out of necessity but retains a strong moral code - and the "villainous" gangster, who is usually the personification of evil.

Most big-name actors usually take on the role of the "good" gangster, a character that is likely to go down better with the audience.

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