The Raees effect: Why is Bollywood so obsessed with glorifying gangsters?

Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees is not the only film about glorifying a gangster. Here's a look at how Bollywood's obsession with fancy portrayal of gangsters on the silver screen

He is ruthless, fearless and unforgiving. He is above the law, and sometimes synonymous with it in his bastion. Clad in denim while brandishing a shotgun, he does not blink an eye to punish those who go against his principles. That’s Raees for you. With kohl applied in his eyes, the character played by Shah Rukh Khan follows one advice given by his ammijaan (mother): “Koi dhandaa chhota nahi hota, aur kisi dhande se bada koi dharm nahi hota”

His dressing style has become a rage among SRK fans and dialogues easily fitting in day-to-day conversations. It is another fact that SRK plays a bootlegger-turned-don in the film.  But aren’t we fixated with baddies on-screen? We are big time.

Who is a gangster?

They kill people for money, gun down rivals before their families and are wanted by police and government for unlawful activities. In Bollywood films, the lead character being a gangster or don is not necessarily a baddie. He might be as stylish as Don, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai’s Sultan Mirza or D-Day’s Iqbal Seth. He travels in swanky cars, holidays in Paris and kills with sadistic charm. Most importantly, he has flings with beautiful women. Let’s see an example: 

On the other hand, there are gangsters who have risen out of poverty and other acute hardships. They have probably witnessed harm to their own near and dear ones, or lured by easy money to get out of the vicious cycle of unemployment. Be it Vaastav’s Raghunath Shivalkar, Company‘s Chandu, Agneepath‘s Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (both old and new), they carry a style of their own which appeals to general youth instantly. I have seen people sit on the chair like Big B and imitate the iconic dialogue from Agneepath. There are people who started wearing white after witnessed Ajay Devgn in OUATIM

Is the influence bad or good? 

Around 15 years ago, on my way to school I witnessed a middle-age man donning a white kurta pyjama walking on the road. He had a tilak on his forehead and wore a thick chain and kept on stopping passersby, saying, “50 tola”. Later, I realised he had donned the get-up of Sanjay Dutt from Vaastav. Dutt played a goon Raghunath Shivalkar who takes up guns after being unintentionally involved in a fight with local don’s brother.
Similarly you could see youngsters imitating Vivek Oberoi and smoking cigarette like he did in Company.

Now, the question is: Is Bollywood’s fascination with law-breakers having a negative effect on youngsters? After all, the media promotions are planned in such a way that the lead protagonists are portrayed as larger-than-life personalities in real life. It is better to leave it to the readers to decide.