March 25, 2013

The Portrayal of Crime in Hindu Films

Karthik Suresh, National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University, has published 'Apaharan' and the Making of a Criminal - Portrayal of Crime by Popular Hindi Cinema. Here is the abstract.

Apaharan, released in 2005, is a movie based on the kidnapping ‘industry’ that operates in Bihar even today. In this movie, the well-known actor Ajay Devgn plays a young, out-of-work salesman, who applies for a post in the State Police. He clears the merit list, but is asked to pay a bribe of 5 lakh rupees. Just before his selection, major differences crop up between Home Minister Dinkar Pandey and Ajay’s father, with the latter threatening to expose the corruption within the State Ministry. Dinkar ensures that Ajay's name is dropped from the shortlist, and the money-lender sends his goons after him, giving him 3 days to come up with the money. A desperate Ajay decides to be part of the lucrative kidnapping scheme in Bihar, abducts a Government official and demands a ransom so that he can re-pay his loan. The story then goes on to show Ajay’s rise in the kidnapping industry, reaching his zenith as the kingpin of the industry. His eventual downfall is shown, as differences crop up later in the story with his mentor Tabrez Alam (played by Nana Patekar).
What I am to focus on, in this paper, is the construction of crime which leads to Ajay Devgan becoming wanted for cases of kidnapping, extortion and murder. What is described as ‘making of a criminal’, and the criminology-related aspect of the commission of the crime, is to be discussed in this paper. This, shall be spoken about in the light of popular Hindi cinema which have represented crime and criminals in various shades. The researcher is to use various models of criminology, including Engels' model of construction of crime, as also other criminological discourses about how a 'criminal mind' takes shape. This is to be connected to Apaharan in particular, but research would also be done into other Hindi movies, Vaastav, Deewar (Amitabh Bacchan's role in that movie) etc.
A society's perception of crime and the making of a criminal could be well-understood by the cinema it produces. Hindi cinema, being the lingua franca of this country, could well give an opportunity to look into Indian society's perception of how a criminal is made. Through Apaharan, the researcher aims to gauge the idea of crime and the 'making of a criminal' in the Hindi film industry.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

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