What can possibly be so alluring about evil, sinister, scheming, deceitful or villainous roles played by leading actors on television? Some actors have outshone their leading ladies, male co-stars and protagonists with their dark roles characterised by myriad shades of grey. What is also noteworthy is that their roles as leading antagonists receive far more appreciation than their roles in drama serials as noble protagonists.
Here are five talented actors that fit the bill when it comes to playing negative roles on screen.
Gohar Rasheed is a trained theatre actor and a promising member of Pakistan’s entertainment industry. However, it seems his speciality lies in playing negative characters, which he seems to have mastered effortlessly. These negative roles have allowed him to work with some of the best directors in the country including but not limited to Marina Khan, Nadeem Baig, Bilal Lashari and Haseeb Hasan.
The only two roles that he has played as a positive protagonist were in Raaz-e-Ulfat and Ishqiya and both his characters failed to make a fraction of the impact his negative roles have made. His character Waseem Wallay in the film Rangreza as the wayward son of a renowned qawwal and an aggressive fiancé was greatly appreciated. Rasheed has also made waves with his role as Mikaeel Shahaab, the abusive spouse and gambler in Mann Mayal, as Naseeb, a detestable spouse to two wives in Mujhe Jeenay Do, the abhorrent Shoukat in Digest Writer and now as Asim, the repugnant son and brother in Pardes.
His righteous characters, both as the honourable and forgiving Ismail in Raaz-e-Ulfat and as the devoted husband Azeem in Ishqiya, were not as believable as they seemed to lack depth and were pretty much linear in narrative.
Of late, audiences have been raving about Ahsan Khan’s devious and violent portrayal of Rashid in the sensational Qayamat. As an unscrupulous man who has no qualms about having extramarital affairs and physically, verbally and emotionally abusing his wife, Rashid embodied every despicable, misogynistic and sexist man who seems to have wronged everyone he comes into contact with.
Similarly, Khan’s character in Udaari was the lewd molester and perverted rapist, which bagged him both awards and appreciation and allowed him to establish himself as a deviant antagonist. However, when he played the nice boy-next-door Omar in Bandhe Ek Dor Se, who is so confused and ignorant, he seems to have no clue what’s going on and did not make much of an impression. Omar was so blind to what was obvious in the plot — he could not tell the difference between his infatuation for his manipulative girlfriend Roshni and the love he had in his heart for his wife Maheen, nor could he take a stand before his family for either woman.
The recent and ultra explosive drama Phaans seems to have turned the tables for Shehzad Sheikh as a performer and all for the better. In Phaans, Sheikh plays the role of Saahil, a serial rapist and perverse man who fakes being autistic to fool people into thinking he is an innocent child trapped in an adult body. His effortless performance as the son of a wealthy family who has a disability, which initially almost led audiences to root for him, crumbled and his sinister transformative scenes stole the show. The intensity with which his character switches from a lewd, perverted man to his farcical shield is laudable to say the least. This negative role seems to have outshone all chocolate boy heroes and protagonist roles he played in the past.
Feroze Khan has probably become the go to actor to play aggressively intense, passionately vengeful and borderline evil characters. While none of his dark roles deserve to be justified or glorified, negative roles have brought him immense popularity amongst his fans. He nailed his character as the vengeful Hamza in Ishqiya who goes to unimaginable lengths to blackmail and intimidate his ex-girlfriend who is already married to someone else.
His role as the violent Hadi in Khaani also had audiences ranting and raving, eager to see his demise. While both these characters met with somewhat of a deserving end, I wonder why Feroze’s positive characters (for instance in Dil Kya Kare) have failed to make as much of an impact.
Minal Khan claims that she chose to play the role of Nisha Tanveer in Jalan because she wanted to prove to her fans that she can play diverse roles and break free from the shackles of a sweet innocent damsel in distress, which seemed to have been the mould she was perpetually typecast in. Nisha, who suffers from Sibling Rivalry Disorder (a recognised childhood emotional disorder that can manifest in extremely aberrant personality traits in adulthood) is a character so obsessive, selfish, manipulative and sociopathic that there are no lengths she won't go to to get what she wants. She has an affair with her pregnant sister’s (Misha played by Areeba Habib) husband (Emmaad Irfani), and then marries him, which leads her elder sister to commit suicide after getting divorced and giving birth to her son. While she is now playing a positive lead in Ishq Hai, Misha from Jalan overshadows all other characters she has played.
While some actors feel negative roles allow for a greater acting margin as opposed to playing someone who is a perpetual goody two shoes, others believe that audiences are often drawn to the vices of these dark characters because they personify the people who have wronged them in their lives, and when viewers watch these characters on screen they are automatically glued to their seats to see these characters get their just desserts.
But at the end of the day, despite how alluring these characters may seem, their villainous tendencies should not be glorified.