What is common between Chulbul Pandey in Dabangg and Surjan Singh Shekhawat in Talaash? Both are quintessential Bollywood cops — toughies who sport a moustache, slide on their aviators and are no strangers to gun-blazing action sequences. And who can forget that one fist fight sequence that renders all their high tech ammunition useless. And no cop paraphernalia would be complete without a babe on their arm and a hottie who is ready to gyrate and swing to the beats of the villain. One can’t help but wonder why the Bollywood cop continues to be the age-old cliche despite filmmakers exploring unchartered territories with interesting plotlines.
Filmmaker Reema Kagti thinks that there is a certain look that a Bollywood cop needs to fit into. “I wanted Aamir to have a moustache in Talaash to counter his cute hero image as he needed to fit into the character of a stern cop,” she says, adding that an on-screen cop needs to be fit to be able to take on the goons. “But when it comes to the story, Aamir explores a whole new facet of being a cop,” she adds.
Actor Jimmy Shergill, who has been known to play intense roles on screen says that it is the call of the director to determine the look of the characters. “In Special Chabbis, I play a Delhi based sub-inspector. I had to grow a moustache to look the part,” he says. “In Yahaan, I played an army-man and Shoojit Sircar (director) had asked me to keep a moustache. The look worked for the film,” Jimmy explains.
Prakash Jha, known for making socially relevant films, has a different take altogether. “I work more on the content than the style. The fact that Ajay Devgn in Gangaajal and Arjun Rampal in Chakravyuh share certain similarities in defining their image as a cop is a byproduct of the public’s perception,” he says. Jha also says that the gun blazing action and body baring acts have become the norm for a Bollywood cop, even though it may be far from reality. “We like to see fit protagonists, why would it be any different in case of an on-screen cop?” Jha asks.
With the public wanting more and more action, and as our heroes take on the mantle to bring justice and be a voice for the downtrodden, certain cliches seem unavoidable.