lunchtime poll #8: villain lairs

As promised: per Todd's suggestion in lunchtime poll #7's responses, it's high time we discussed in finer detail one of the key ingredients in any good masala...the villain lair! Or gangster hideout. Or criminal-infested dive bar.

Somehow I am missing suitable pictures of such notable dens of iniquity as the dungeon in
Ajooba (though I do have one of the tiger attacking Amitabh there)

the underwater spinning control room from Shaan, Sam's debauched bed-on-a-platform from Disco Dancer*, and Raghavan's dank, dark, drippy basement in Main Hoon Na.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.

In Sharmilee, the villains' hideout has a nightclub attached, and in said nightclub, the performers enact the temptations of evil (note the giant prop booze bottle)!

It's a musical meta lair!

Original Don's vault is pleasingly 70s-looking and amuses me with its frilly pink lampshades,

and new Don's vault is a real doozy.

As a side point, it might be argued that neither a little red book nor a teeny-tiny disk are particularly effective as key artifacts of wrongdoing - they're not menacing in form or size or basic concept - but it doesn't really matter. There's too much other set ishtyle in both of these movies to fret over something like that. Besides, if the book weren't so small, they couldn't chuck it around so easily in the graveyard scene at the end, and we wouldn't want to lose out on that.

Roti Kapada aur Makhan has reflective zigzag wallpaper (or strings of beads over mirrors - either way, awesome).

Aruna Irani dares you to keep your ethics straight when confronted with such blinding distractions!

Fakira's lair is drive-in,

enables its occupants to look like Charlie's Angels (or is it the other way around? which came first?),

and, if I remember correctly, has clap-on clap-off lights used to great effect in fights and lovey-doving. Apparently it also contains a wardrobe full of super fly 70s shirts for Shashi, including the non-shirt, a.k.a. "sheer," variety.

Such quality provisions must not go unnoticed.

Mogambo has a lot to be khush about in Mr. India.

It coordinates to his outfit, continuing the fake military theme and winged skull motifs. Does it remind anyone else of Medieval Times (in a good way, of course)?

Ranjeet's hangout in Chor Sipahee has two stellar technological marvels: first, the plastic tube people mover,

which I've never seen anywhere else and am really pleased to know somebody bothered to make, because I've been curious about the efficacy of said idea ever since I was four years old and went with my parents to the drive-up window at the bank, and two, a giant slide.

I've heard there are other films with giant slides; I'm particularly fond of this one's tight spiral and how it appears to empty out to the back of the room, if this camera angle is to be trusted, making it pretty useless for grand entrances. So it's just...practical, then? Hmmm. Surely not. Pragmatism is only one of the guiding design principles for villain lairs. The Sheikh's den is also guarded by guys in funny outfits complete with coordinating hats. Henchmen are good; comically matching henchmen are better.

Once again, Parvarish winds up in my top spot. I really don't know what else you could want in a villain lair. As this aerial shot demonstrates, it is spacious, avoids nasty feng shui pitfalls of troublesome corners, offers ample plant life for fresh oxygen - and everybody's going green these days; why bother taking over the world if there's no planet left to enjoy? - and has coordinating seating whose forms echo the curves of the walls.

The quicksand pit features retractable platforms on one diameter and those handy moving spiked walls on the perpendicular. The perimeter of the pit is protected by a subtly shaded handrail - safety first! Parking and access by car are no problem, and there are sleeping quarters in calming baby blue en suite to the main room described above.

While the different functional areas are demarcated with color, furnishings, etc., the whole space is unified by stalagtites.

As you do. (Also note the weapon storage built right in to the structure, to the left of Vinod in the photo above.) The lair also comes complete with 'round-the-clock entertainment in the shapely forms of silhouetted dancing girls who neither require music to perform nor distract you from work by singing or speaking.

Parvarish's hangout also offers easy access to the street-level legitimate front for the smuggling operation, a school for the blind. Let no one cast aspersions on that! Additional features include the affiliated location in the submarine and the services of Tom Alter.

What are your favorites?

* I loaned my museum's director my copy of Disco Dancer over a year ago (in exchange for his copy of Teenagers from Outer Space, which is from 1959 and every bit as bad as you'd guess) and he has not finished watching it yet. What recourse do I have?


veracious said…
Mmm Vinod.

Sorry. Ahem.

I liked the villain's lair in Sachaa-Jhutha which is literally a cave sort of structure. I believe Memsaab's review of the movie had pics of this dark place. Also the treasure cave in Alibaba aur 40 Chor, which had a disco floor. Can't beat that!

It bears mentioning that the most infamous of villains, Gabbar, had no lair but a place out in the open.
Amey said…
Err, how much is the current offer for the Parvarish layer? What kind of view does it have? (Sorry, your description of the place made me say it)

BTW, have you seen the layer of Riz Raizada? It has a centralized chair, revolving decorations and what-not.
Rum said…
A brilliant poll! My favorite ones are Ajit Swanky lair in
Yaadon Ki Baarat with its swishy doors, its funky windows, and general funky blue colours every where.

KN Singh's lair in An Evening in Paris was full swishy doors, door upon door where french henchman led Shammi!

Parvarish is also up there in coolio dens!

I also love Amjad Khan's lair in Mr.Natwarlal, he had massive V signs poking out every where, plus a V-burning pole where he burns a V on to their backs! and all of his godowns are there too.

Pran's one in RAM AUR SHYAM is fantastic with so many stuffed tigers, and swishy stairs~

I wish i had a lair now!
Filmi Girl said…
For me, nothing tops the wax-figure-making machine of EVIL in Geeta Mera Naam. Johny's lair also features Helen in a giant tub of pink bubble bath!

That said, I do love the low-budget robot in Mr. India. Man, I wish they hadn't blown him up with everthing else...

And Riz Raizada's lair in Drona was pretty excellent, too. He has EVIL marionettes! They're evil!
ajnabi said…
Ooh, how about Naseeruddin Shah's high-tech lair in Krrish? I mean, I know it's supposed to be a superhero movie but it's totally masala.
I REQUIRE the Fakira lair- one day, I want a house that looks like it- the drive-in, the circular red entrance- et all. I need to watch that movie so bad....:) Too bad no shash :/
Bollywood said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
I loved the lair in Saazish: a cave hewn from rock and furnished with Victorian chairs, French crystal chandeliers, a stuffed tiger or two and SO MUCH MORE.

Somehow if there are lamps or candelabras, they are always rakishly tilted, rather as if my cleaning ladies had just been there and dusted the heck out ofthem.
Temple said…
I have to vote for Fakira - clap activated lights, drive in convenience, Angels-effect doors, and yes the wardrobe was endless. Shashi had to have somewhere to store his huge array of stick-on moustache disguises.
Heeralal Pannalal had some good lair moments, but I think they were greatly enhanced by the costumes so perhaps, architecturally, not the best.
I would give an honourable mention to Mr India for the lava or acid pit (??) and general adherence to Megalomaniacal Decorating rules (elevated throne, symbols of new world order, ranks of slaves/soldiers).
A dishonourable mention goes to the "secret" training ground in Ajooba - where the hero runs through twisting passages, secret doors, up and down, round and round, and pops out into an open field next apparently next door to the building in question. Seriously guys - how is this a secret???
Everything I read on this blog tells me I HAVE to see Geeta Mera Naam...............
Banno said…
Loved this. Loved it. I spend so much time looking at the sets. Now, I can't think of any films, awed by what you've put together.
eliza bennet said…
Hmmm I liked John Abraham's lair in Dhoom with a basketball

Now you finally convinced me to watch Parvarish!!!
manythoughts said…
Hi Beth,
I follow your blog almost religiously, if Bollywood can be called a religion :)

At your express recommendation, I recently watched Imaan Dharam. And I want to thank you for an evening of don't-tax-the-brain, eye-popping entertainment. I also giggled helplessly after a really long time. So, thanks once more!

Re villain lairs, my vote goes to Shaan. There's nothing as *sophisticated* and eco-friendly in villainy as that one.

Have fun and keep up with the excellent reviews!
Nirvana said…
This is great stuff, Beth. Why dont u follow this post with a sequel?

Nirvana @
Anonymous said…
Great post Beth. I always look forward to your unusual posts.


Anonymous said…
I put in a comment a while ago but looks like blogger swallowed it up!

Love your list of lairs and cant off-hand recall any others. But does Fakira's lair really count? Isnt he the "good" guy in the film?
Anarchivist said…
I just watched Waris, and was amused at how people kept escaping from the lair, and being recaptured, and escaping again. But the bad guys kept using it! I guess once you've invested a lot in a swanky push-button lair with the trap doors and the poison gas, you hate to move.

Then I got to thinking, it must have been a heady time in India, when every random local crime boss had a set-up out of a James Bond movie. Much more stylish than what we had going here in the states...
BB said…
I love the vault in the original Don, mostly because it was so fluffy and frilly for a villain lair!
Anonymous said…
no votes for the razpur abode of riz raizada from drona? afterall it took 22 crs for the whole styling of the villain and the den!

amazing list u hav given anywys..rememering in so much detail and pics to go with it! wow..

mogambo had an acid bubble bath too if i rem correct..or was it the shaan bald head??
Keith said…
Shaan had the crocodile pit, something no decent villain would ever be without.
Everyone - I am very very sorry for the lateness of my replies. Work has drained all my brainpower lately.

Also, thank you for all the submissions! Once again, I am reminded how much there is to see. Aaaaaaaaah. Happiness.

Veracious - I second that.

Those all sounds like great ingredients, especially the dance floor, of course.

That does bear mentioning! And I wonder if it brings any relevant evidence to the earlier discussion of whether Sholay is masala.....

Amey - You know, those are both really good questions. I have not had any Bolly-related real estate transactions since last year, when Akshaye forgot to put down the deposit on the Shaan inside-out disco ball for our wedding reception. I think you could probably have it for whatever the gang's latest smuggling score was plus a few bottles of something choice.

Fab fab. What-not is essential in a good lair!

Rum - "Funky" is also key.

Filmi Girl - A mannequin machine? Wow! It's like Mold-o-rama!

Ajnabi - YES. Excellent idea.

Shweta - Does this new house of yours not have such a space? Bah. You'd think with the downturn in the housing market it'd be a cinch to find an affordable lair these days.

theBollywoodFan - All good ideas. I forgot about Lagaan completely. I hope it contained lots of scenery for that actor to chew.

Memsaab - WOW. I think tilted light fixtures must indicate 1) wild antics of debauchery and 2) minds dedicated to world domination/arms smuggling/gold smuggling/etc that have no scope for details like housekeeping.

Temple - Hahahahah "Megalomaniacal Decorating Rule." That idea merits a whole separate post of its own and could probably encompass many nations'/cultures' films. I wonder if there are global themes? Hmmm.

Banno - :) I'm sure you'll think of something and will share it with one and all!

Eliza - Ah yes! I have a theory about how basketball in Hindi films is a symbol of conflict, but that too is a whole separate post :)

Pleeeease watch it. I want everyone to watch it, even if they don't love it and I die a little inside (ahem, Todd).

manythoughts - Thank you!

I'm glad you liked the movie - PPCC tipped me off to that one. Giggling regularly is of utmost importance to quality of life, I think.

Nirvana - Hee! When I get more photos and see a few of these films recommended by all of you, perhaps I will!

Meera - Thank you!

Anachivist - That's a good question. Even villains might have sentimental attachment to a place....

I know. Our 70s villains are just corrupt cops, mobsters, and drug dealers, hanging out in dive bars. Booooring.

Bolly List - Agreed!

bege - Haven't seen it :( I bet you're right re: Mogambo. It's been too long since I saw Mr. India; I rewatched Shaan about a month ago and do not remember a bubble bath, though it has plenty of other delights, including water-based ones.

Keith - True true. Does it have to be a crocodile pit, or can it be other vicious animals? Discuss.
gebruss said…
I don't have a villain lair to offer, but a villain car, complete with healthy snacks:

And I still think Aan has the most awesome dungeon door ever, even if the dungeon isn't particularily spectacular.
Todd said…
Thanks so much for this poll, Beth. Once again, my shopping cart overfloweth. My faves don't differ much from what I mentioned in my comment on your masala movie poll, and have been mentioned by others here: Johnny's in Geeta Meera Naam, Amjad's in Parvarish and Shakaal's in Shaan.

Clearly my taste in lairs veers toward the more spectacular, James Bond influenced ones. I also think that the more out of proportion in scale a lair is to its owner's position on the ladder of criminal endeavor, the better. I mean, wasn't Shakaal a black marketeer? What were those shark's guarding? His underwater stockpile of bootleg DVDs? Is that what the headquarters of T-Series looks like?

I'd also add to my list Mogambo's HQ in Mr. India, a standout in terms of grandeur and staffing. I agree with Filmi Girl that the robot's end was tragic and premature. In this sense, he is the James Dean of Bollywood robots. Oh, robot from Mr. India, what might the future have held for you?

Finally, I'd like to give a sort of "A for effort" honorable mention to Dr. Chang's lair in Spy in Rome, mainly because it looks pretty good despite everything else in the movie looking so cheap. They clearly spent a good chunk of their budget on insuring that their villain had an appropriately Bondian lair, which I think reflects a good set of priorities on their part. Plus, all of his minions were dressed in brightly colored radiation suits.
Bollywood said…
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