Once upon a time, revenge films were a Bollywood staple. The formula was simple: the heroine or the hero's sister would get raped, his unwed mother would be abandoned by his father or his dad would get brutally murdered. Driven mad with grief and with nothing left to lose, he would wreak havoc on his enemy.
Now years later, a revenge film releases and the audience readily laps it up. As good a time as any to ask filmmakers about their favourite revenge flicks, right?
WHY: The whole theme was very new and fresh then. Films like Om Shanti Om and Karz have developed their stories from it. There are so many plots and sub-plots in the film with so many twists and turns - including reincarnation, a ghost, Madhubala's lookalike... And the interesting thing was that Bengali director Ritwik Ghatak who was known to write art films, had written Madhumati - a hardcore commercial film. It's essentially a revenge story with reincarnation as the subplot.
PICKED: Sholay and Om Shanti Om
WHY: Everything works in Sholay. If the story is not strong enough at the core, nothing works but Sholay had that. It's the most entertaining revenge drama. My other favorite revenge drama is my film Om Shanti Om - it has re-incarnation and has the perfect formula of revenge set in a very different way.
WHY: In the original version Ramesh Sippy had Gabbar killed by Sanjeev Kumar, but because the Censor Board in the 70s were very strict and didn't like heroes taking law into their own hands, had asked the climax to be changed. So a very reluctant Ramesh Sippy had to re-shoot the climax with the cops added to ot. But even with the diluted climax Sholay still remains the mother of all revenge dramas.
WHY: Apart from being a cult film because of its memorable dialogues and the characterisation, Sholay is a timeless classic, which can be watched even 10 years from now. Gabbar, Thakur, Jai and Veeru, not to mention Basanti, are names that have been etched in the memory of millions of Indians since decades.
WHY: because its a saga of revenge over a period of years. Sanjeev Kumar's helplessness in unable to take revenge himself and hiring mercenaries to take his revenge is a plot that is very interesting and gripping. The Magnificent Seven based on the Seven Samurai is not about revenge, but protecting the villagers. But in Sholay, the idea is to catch Gabbar who killed and massacred his entire family. Revenge at its best.
WHY: It has to be! Based on the brilliant novel Death Rides A Horse, Zanjeer has it all! The smouldering intensity of Mr. Bachchan as a cop who after the brutal murder of his family, seeks some answers with the help of a street-wise knife sharpening girl (Jaya Bhaduri), and a Pathan (Pran). The flamboyance of the underworld don Teja (Ajit) and a brilliant screenplay about how he gets him.
WHY: It has the best screenplay ever written. What I love about the film is that it was a film where the protagonist wanted to take revenge not against a person, but against the world.
PICKED: Karz and Yaadon Ki Baraat.
WHY: Karz is about reincarnation and revenge. I would love to remake Yaadon Ki BaraatI am a complely commercial viewer where I always root for the hero. Like Ek Villain in the scene where both Riteish and Sidharth come face to face and Sid beats up Riteish, I loved the climax in Yaadon Ki Baraat where the brothers eventually get their hands on the villain and beat him up. It's drama at its peak! Hollywood-wise, I love The Dark Knight.
PICKED: Death Wish
WHY: It was my first vigilante revenge drama and has stayed with me since childhood. Most recently, my favourite revenge saga is Kill Bill for all the obvious reasons.
PICKED: Cape Fear
WHY: Because usually good guys in the movies are wronged and they come back for revenge. Here Robert de Niro’s character was repulsive and sadistic. When he returns for revenge, we root for him. De Niro and Martin Scorcese are an unbeatable combo.
PICKED: Escape To Victory
WHY: It deals with underdogs winning against the mighty without violence. The climax is warm and moving.
PICKED: Inglorious Basterds
WHY: Terrific characters. Quirky, poetic, lots of fun. Love its structuring and audacity.
PICKED: The Gladiator
WHY: It’s one of my all-time favourite films. I fell in love with Russell Crowe’s acting. Although you’re watching this big-budgeted spectacle the film’s heart is never missing. Long after the film was over I carried it home.”
WHY: It merged a romantic story with patriotism on an epic scale.
PICKED: True Grit
WHY: It is truly gritty and gripping. I rediscovered the actor in Kurt Russell.
PICKED: The Godfather
WHY: Though the plot centres on revenge, the world createD in the film explains that revenge is not just something personal and that it is a tradition that must be taken to its logical culmination. It was all very convincingly handled by Coppola.”
Vijay Krishna Acharya
PICKED: Kill Bill
WHY: It exalts the revenge genre. Superb characters and fantastic dialogues. Uma Thurman is a goddess.
PICKED: Shawshank Redemption and Sleepers
WHY: In both films, the revenge angle is well-drawn and planned and ultimately, very satisfying.
Aanand L Rai
PICKED: Kill Bill
WHY: Because the director makes you believe that revenge is mandatory....or should I saw woman-datory? Uma Thurman’s character takes the vendetta to a level where it becomes our concern.
PICKED: The Godfather
WHY: Mario Puzo wrote an amazing novel. And Francis Ford Coppola did a magnificent job of putting the novel on screen. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino lived their roles.