Some of Bollywood’s most famous depictions of self destructive characters have been in films like Devdas- the Dilip Kumar starrer, or even Meena Kumari in Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam and Amitabh Bachchan in Sharaabi. The idea of self destruction was linked to alcoholism and it does to an extent even now. But the telling has become more nuanced and there is a certain irreverence in the degradation of a character. Sometimes there is a tragic cause, sometimes there isn’t and sometimes it’s just sheer ignorance and callousness.
The upcoming Shahid Kapoor starrer Kabir Singh, which is an adaptation of the Telugu film Arjun Reddy is also about a high functioning alcoholic who has anger management issues. He goes on to the path of self destruction when his girlfriend gets married to someone else. Here are some of Bollywood’s new age self destructive characters:
1. Ranbir Kapoor- Rockstar
Jordan (Ranbir) in Rockstar is a talented musician, but he lacks the kind of expression that makes a musician stand out. His mentor tells him that in order to have some kind of depth in his music, he needs to experience ‘pain’. The truest form of art according to the mentor comes from angst and agony. Jordan sets out to seek pain, and ends up falling in love. The girl he loves breaks his heart, which actually brings out the best in him when it comes to music, but leaves him emotionally fragile and broken. You have a lot to express from your reservoir of emotions, but can do nothing about it.
2. Abhay Deol- Dev D
Unlike Shah Rukh Khan or Dilip Kumar in the earlier versions of Devdas, Anurag Kashyap’s protagonist didn’t really become a tragic hero. He was just a massively confused guy, representative of the millennial confusion when it came to love and lust. To put it simply, he was ‘messed up’. He took to the bottle, as he moved between Paro and Chandramukhi, with no redeeming quality whatsoever.
3. Aditya Roy Kapur- Aashiqui 2
Rahul Jaykar (Aditya Roy Kapur) is a successful musician with a crazy fan following, but someone whose career faces a threat from his alcohol addiction. He helps Arohi (Shraddha Kapoor) who he see singing at a bar to become a successful playback singer and the two fall in love. But the media spotlight leads to Rahul going back to his alcohol addiction. You see the degradation of a once successful singer, also someone immensely talented wasting his abilities because he can’t get a grasp on himself. No amount of love and care could rescue him from his tragic end.
4. Katrina Kaif - Zero
Katrina’s character Babita in Zero, is a volatile movie star nursing a major heartbreak. Like the other characters here she too takes to alcoholism, and is quite unapologetic about it. She has an aura about herself that says, “I deserve better.” She walks into a mall with a bottle of vodka taking massive gulps as she waives to hordes of people in the audience. The pressures of stardom and the loneliness at the top came across wonderfully in Katrina’s performance, unquestionably her career best.
5. Shahid Kapoor - Udta Punjab
Tommy Singh (Shahid) is a young Punjabi musician, with a huge fan base and a man who lives life to the fullest. He lives a luxurious life, but he and his band are also massively addicted to cocaine. Their consumption is of an insane amount and even reflects in the lyrics of his song that glorify violence and drug addiction. He even lands up in jail thanks to his addiction, but when he sees that his fans are imitating his life and committing atrocities he decides to give it up. Unlike the other films where these characters remain lost or have tragic ends, Tommy Singh moves ahead to a better life.
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