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August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.          August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


When the 'stars' go marching in !

Gautam Kaul

With Anshuman Khurana striding the silver screen and burning it in the latest released film "Article 15", our attention to the job of the policeman and to the person in uniform, has returned with a big bang. This film now joins the august company of past great cop movies such as Ardha Satya, Newton, Eenadu, Gangajaal, Zanjeer and Shool.
While Hollywood introduced the uniform of a sheriff from its very first feature film in "The Great Train Robbery", (1903) it took much more time for our Indian audiences to see a film star in uniform.
Old records suggest that the first film star who wore any uniform was Sahu Modak who wore the dress of a police constable in the V Shantaram film, 'Aadmi'(1938). Indian cinema did not rush in more police characters into cinema. Worse, the Indian soldier found itself in cinema post Independence because there was fear of the censors.

This fear became true when in the Hindi film 'Aas Ka Panchchi' (1961), the Censors disallowed the Indian soldier fighting a named foreign enemy and suggested a reshoot of those scene in which the Indian soldier is now shown fighting an unnamed enemy. This Indian soldier in uniform was Rajendra Kumar. Rajendra Kumar returned to play a character wearing the uniform again only once when he wore the air force uniform in film Sangam(1964) directed by Raj Kapoor.
Today the police and army uniforms are quite a common sight in Indian cinema. Some of our super heroes love to be fitted into the Army or police uniform in practically every third or fourth film they are doing.

Surprisingly, there is ONE super star in Hindi cinema, to our knowledge, who is still yet to wear a uniform as a hero in cinema. In fact this personage did wear a uniform when he stepped into his first television serial, but not in any feature film. The television serial was "Fauji", and lo and behold we have given away our cue.
This super star is Shah Rukh Khan and SRK to most.
Somehow the mannerism adopted by SRK have put off all script writers in the Hindi film industry who cannot visualise SRK acting a soldier, an officer of the Defence Forces of the country, or a police officer. Well definitely not a police cop. He will first have to visit a village barber shop for close cut.

The late Rajesh Khanna too in a police uniform could put off the horde of fan only once in film 'Shatru'(1986). For some wearing the police uniform brought good luck to them and these artists have loved to say yes if a policeman's role was offered. Well, so says Amitabh Bachchan whose film career was stuck for the first 13 films in which he worked , and he acquired stardom in just 130 minutes, as soon as the first day first afternoon show ended, of film Zanjeer(1974). Amitabh has then gone on to play Inspector Vijay in over a dozen times and even got himself promoted in films, to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police. He has also switched the dress to that of an army officer, at least twice.

Three super stars have pulled off very good roles wearing the uniform. They are Ajay Devgun, Akshay Kumar and Om Puri. Om Puri was so popular as a cop, that even regional cinema found it safe to have him. He was found in the Kannada film 'AK 47' wearing the police uniform with distinction ! Two charactor actors in the past also became synonymous to playing the cop. They were Iftiqaar and Man Mohan. Iftiqaar was so good that real life policemen often invited him to their official functions to preside.

Four women artists have also played super cops. They are Priyanka Chopra, Tabu, Archana Puran Singh and Vijayshanti from the Telugu cinema who portrayed a fictionalise version of Kiran Bedi in film 'Tejashwini'(1994).
Two film actors have come from the ranks of the the police department, Prem Nazir of Kerala Cinema, and Raj Kumar from Mumbai Police.
One ex-IPS officer wrote for films in Bengali cinema. He was Ain Rashid Khan who wrote for Gautam Ghosh. Another IPS officer, Vijay Sasnur from Karnataka Police, was a novelist, short story writer, song writer, screen play writer and script writer for Kannada cinema. Both worked during the 1980s.