1980s to 1990s saw a unique era in Bollywood, when some of the greatest films were made and also some of the worst movies were made during that time. There were some films that stand out among others and for variety of reasons. One such reason was characterization. Tezaab, released in 1988, was a major hit on Box-office at that time and actually established Madhuri Dixit as the queen of Bollywood.
I like this film. This was an Indian style remake of “Streets of fire”. But there was a lot of Indianization (say Bollywood spices) added to Tezaab which made it a super hit. The songs, the acting and action and direction was all that was needed to make a film hit at that time. When I talk of acting, I am reminded of the important aspect of casting called ‘characterization’. All the characters of the film stand out in their own way.
The main villain of the film, Lotiya Pathan, played by Kiran Kumar is one of the best villainous roles I have seen in hindi films. Though no special screen space or special treatment is given to his character, but with his different scenes in the film and what other characters talk about his character in the film, his character sketch can be drawn pretty easily and it indeed stands out when we compare it with any typical hindi film villain of that era.
Lotiya Pathan was from Pathan community. He was proud of his race. He had some rules and ideals. That doesn’t mean that he was a saint drawn into bad world, no. All villains of that era were out rightly bad. They were completely evil, with no sense of any moral, and Lotiya was no exception. However, there were certain characteristics of this villain which I wish to highlight. He was wealthy but not extravagant. He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke. He was also not a womanizer. (Though that doesn’t mean he cannot kidnap the young dancer daughter of some mean drunkard whom he had lend some money and he failed to return. That mean guy played by the evergreen Anupam Kher). He was pissed off that his younger brother started taking drugs, something which no one in his entire family had done. His rules on money lending were straight: “Lotiya paise dete waqt hisaab nahi karta, aur lete wqt lihaaj nahi karta” (Lotiya never counts while lending the money and never make exceptions while collecting).
Lotiya Pathan was a deadly enemy. He would never forgive and would never forget. He had an enmity with the main protagonist Munna (Anil Kapoor) and his friend Babban (Chunky Pandey). He had to pay them back. Listen to his wonderful dialogues of retribution:
“Babban ne jo kiya wo Babban ka mujh par karz hai, aur pathan duniya chhod sakta hai lekin karz nahi chhod sakta” (What Babban did to me is what is due from my side to him and a pathan cannot die without paying his dues)
“Munna mujhe chhod kar kahan jayega, uska aur mera to khoon ka rishta hai, khoon uska, chaaku mera” (How can Munna go without me, both of us are bonded by blood, his blood and my dagger)
His ruthless retribution rules are absolute. Eye for an eye, hand for a hand, life for a life, and sister for a brother (yes, you heard the last one right!).
Even though being a ruthless and heartless villain, Lotiya Pathan still had admiration for bravery even when shown by his sworn enemies. he never shies away praising Munna’s heroic deeds when he defeats him and also challenges an armed police inspector for a man to man fight, who arrives at his place with a dozen of constables.
Lotia Pathan is never given due credit. He somehow gets lost in the magnanimity of more popular villains of Bollwood like Gabbar Singh, Mogambo, Dr. Dang, Kancha, etc. so I thought let me write something on him.