Rise of Blood and Violence in 100 Years of Indian Cinema
The 1970s was a period of huge political, economic and social turmoil in our Indian society. Due to the war with Pakistan leading to creation of Bangladesh and imposed state of emergency, there was enormous cynicism and crime rising at that time. Influenced by this deep crisis and civil unrest, Indian Cinema churned out some highly violent and action-packed films reflecting the scenario of society.
To express social anger and aggression, Indian Cinema formulated a new genre where films got characterized by revenge, violence, and anti-hero themes. As a contrast to the conventional film hero, Amitabh Bachchan with his height, deep voice and intense eyes came into being. He instantly became the representation of boiling anger among youngsters searching for revenge and justice. As soon as the “Angry Young Man” image of Amitabh Bachchan rose to stardom, romanticism allied with the Rajesh Khanna’s movies lost its sheen.
By the end of 1970s, more action content came into prominence and romantic stuff got replaced by courageous and violent films featuring gangsters and bandits. Most of the late 70s, Hindi films revolved around male rebellion characters who changed social norms, challenged judicial setup, fought their own battles and finally emerged as a hero. That was an era when heroines were hardly given any substantial role to perform.
Sholay is the premium example of the genre, which prevailed during that time. It personified all the trappings of a western action film such as strong countryside, bandits on horseback, ferocious gunfights and even a gangster’s moll. Sholay definitely took violence to a new height. Though there were only three gang fight scenes in the film, yet it’s action created a stir that was incomparable to the films before it. Even the scene where Thakur’s hands were severed by Gabbar Singh, the pain got transmitted to the viewers only through his eyes. In spite of shooting that sequence without a single drop of bloodshed on the screen, it caused an impact that was extremely heinous and disturbing.
Till date, Sholay is considered to be a massive leap that our Hindi film industry took to infuse violence in our genes. The portrayal of Gabbar Singh, the cold-blooded villain in the film played a pivotal role in taking violence to its peak. Gabbar Singh was the first onscreen illustration of something purely evil in our society. He gave no excuses for his evil mannerisms and sadistic personality. He had an uninhibited cruelty engraved inside that coerced him to sideline any kind of mercy or humanity while taking his revenge. Gabbar Singh was gratuitous, insidious and inexorable, an arch villain in true sense.
Sholay was absolutely legend in the terms of aesthetic glamorization of violence in it. After Sholay, violence became a highly marketable commodity in Indian film market. Very few people know that director Ramesh Sippy was not at all convinced with the climax of his magnum opus ” Sholay” since it was not what he had thought of originally but suggested by CBFC i.e. Central Board of Film Certification. At that time, CBFC felt that the climax of the film was too violent to show it onscreen. Little did they know that after decades there would be such a flood of mislaid violence in movies.
Since 1970s, Indian cinema has witnessed various phases of stunts and action. From technology to emotion, Violence on screen has gone through incredible evolution. While 1980s was a regular era of revenge and blood feud, 1990s glorified violence in a heroic way with immense fighting. In the 20th century, violence has only become more atrocious with films like Ghajini and Gangs of Wasseypur releasing every year. Violence has almost become synonymous with entertainment in Indian film industry. Superfluous violence and gory deaths have now turned into a routine.
Earlier, it was all about rape, vengeance and murder but today screen violence has evolved from physical abuse to hard-hitting psychological terror. Spanning 100 years of Indian cinema, violence has become an integral part of Hindi films. Have a look at the following movies that caused the progression of blood and gore on silver screen:
Zanjeer – Directed by Prakash Mehra, this Amitabh Bachchan starrer was released in 1973. The movie had a sequence where Vijay watches the brutal killing of his parents and grows up haunted by its memories. This was the first film that portrayed Amitabh Bachchan in Angry Young Man image.
Sholay- 1975 classic directed by Ramesh Sippy is believed to be a head turner in violence in the whole cinematic history.
Deewar- Yash Chopra classic was also released in 1975 that had an Amitabh scene in which he ruthlessly murders Samant, the villain in the climax.
Insaaf Ka Tarazu- This was B R Chopra’s most disturbing film with torturous portrayal of rape and violence. It was released in 1980.
Parinda- Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s directorial debut released in 1989. It had a captivating illustration of urban angst, human cruelty and the unlimited cycle of violence portrayed through Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar.
Prahar- This film was released in 1991 and directed by none other than Nana Patekar. Though the movie does not show any direct villain yet the depiction of various evils prevailing in our society leaves us stunned.
Bandit Queen– Based on the life of a female dacoit Phoolan Devi, Shekhar Kapur directed this film in 1994. It entailed so much violence and abuse in it that the film’s ‘s leading actress Seema Biswas took six months to get back to normal.
Anjaam– This Shahrukh Khan starrer, directed by Rahul Rawail is still known for its grotesque exhibit of obsessive love. Despite its monstrous violence, it got a Filmfare award in 1994.
Gunda- Directed by Kanti Shah in 1998 this film was fully packed with the most painful ingredients such as rape, abusive language, horrific action and revenge.
Zinda- This action-packed film released in 2006 was directed by Sanjay Gupta. It depicted merciless scenes like Sanjay Dutt assaulting goons with a hammer and yanking a man’s teeth off in anger.
Ghajini– This Amir Khan starrer was released in 2008 and described as the most violent film of recent times. Apart from the eerie Aamir Khan’s tattoos, it featured scenes like Asin’s horrendous killing by the villain who smacks her skull with an iron rod.
However, the question remains “How much is too much” when it comes to the violence in Indian films. Does our cinema reflect our society or do people get influenced by incidents shown in films? Though, one cannot solely lay the blame on filmmakers, we as a society should realize where we are going wrong and what should be done to make it right.