Mumbai, Dec. 3 -- From Dilip Kumar's tough cop role in Shakti (1982) to Anil Kapoor's corrupt inspector avatar in Lam Lakhan (1989) - several actors have donned the police's uniform for Bollywood films, as a result, both negative and positive portrayals of cops have been common.
However, recently, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that Bollywood has been instrumental in creating a "very bad image" of the police in the minds of the common man, the comment didn't go down too well with the film industry members.
Actor Arshad Warsi, who played a hardened cop in Sehar (2005), opens up, saying that he doesn't see anything wrong in the portrayal of cops in Hindi films. "We have films where cops are shown as being larger than life and battling all odds; they are portrayed as our guardians. The audience doesn't get swayed away so easily," he says.
Adding another perspective to the issue, Sushmita Sen, who essayed the role of a cop in Samay (2003), feels that while there are times that portrayals of cops have not been very positive, it won't be correct to generalise. "I agree that not all films depict all aspects of professional endeavours in our country in the right manner. And yes, we try to depict what is real; sometimes, we overdo it, exaggerate too much, but that doesn't mean that all of it is a lie," she said, at an event earlier this week.
On the other hand, some film-makers feel that they try to keep the characters as close to real life as possible. Hence, at times, negative insights become part of the role. "I, for one, have always shown cops in good light, but even if film-makers portray our police in an absolutely clean and non-corrupt light, will they all become the same in real life?" asks director Sanjay Gupta.
Producer Mukesh Bhatt seconds his thoughts, saying, "Yes, we show some police officers in bad light because that is how some of them are - corrupt - and even Mr Modi knows that. But then, we also show cops who are noble and sacrificing for the interest of the people; so, we show both sides."
Other directors such as Pradeep Sarkar and John Matthew Matthan say they have merely stuck to reality in their respective films while dealing with cop characters. "In Mardaani, we tried to present the police force in the right perspective and worked closely with the police for the film. Of late, many films have presented them well," says Sarkar. Matthan, who directed Aamir Khan in Sarfarosh (1999), adds, "In my film, I showed the cops as they were. I did a lot of research for my film. If I showed honest cops, I also showed cops who were corrupt."