How To Be A Bollywood Villain

The world’s most famous bad man Gulshan Grover gives us tips on how to be terrifying

Posted: 29.07.13

When we heard the ultimate bag boy was in town for the London Indian Film Festival we cornered him for advice. The man is a legend, having starred in over 400 movies, both Hollywood and Bollywood over the last 30 decades and is still going strong. (He has four movies releasing this year.) But the roles he is best known for playing is a villain. He doesn’t have the archetypal bulging biceps or threatening face but he’s sauve and sophisticated, with just the right level of mystery to make a girl go weak at the knees, as Momtaz Begum-Hossain discovered when she asked him for his top tips on how to be a villain.

Take inspiration from the greats
Throughout history, every legendary villain has brought something different to the screen. Ajit Khan played on style, wearing white clothes, smoking a cigar and playing it cool, Praan Sahab brought dignity and stardom making the villain one of the most highest paid actors. Amrish Puri brought a tremendous amount of menace while Prem Chopra was this normal looking guy who played it very slimey.

Be true to yourself

I don’t believe you need to possess conventional clichéd traits – having big muscles is not me and yet I’ve been the leading villain for years. When I first went to castings they said you’re not even 6ft, you’re not threatening, when you walk into a room, people don’t turn their heads, but I changed all that to prove there are different ways of being a villain.

Experiment with characters

A good villain needs to possess the ability to play different characters. Every time you play a different villain you should show different qualities. Villains are complex characters, unlike the hero, you rarely find out about his background and family and what motivates him. He also needs to have presence as soon as he enters the screen so that the viewer can tell, this is someone who is different.

Keep improving

I look back on my movies and critique them wishing I had done things differently. You have to keep striving to be better; even when you have a hit. Don’t rely on your last job, keep checking yourself to be your best; that’s what makes you successful and keeps you in the industry.

Morals matter

Villains are an essential part of Indian story telling. They have always been in Indian stories; the heart of which is that ‘the truth will triumph.’ This is why you always need someone who is a negative character to distinguish them from the good guy. Remember that you are being played against this other character, you’re the opposite of them, use this as your strength to be as menacing as you possibly can!


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