Manik Irani: A Look At The Journey of Bollywood's Long-Forgotten Villain – News18

Curated By: Entertainment Bureau
Last Updated: May 20, 2023, 19:20 IST
Mumbai, India
Manik Irani's first film was Paap Aur Punya in 1974.
While most moviegoers go gaga over their favourite leading men and women, the supporting characters have equal contributions towards the success of a film. Many times, a strong antagonist is the one who, when featured against the hero, elevates the overall performance for both as well. While character artists are getting more recognition these days, it was not the same about three decades ago when these supporting actors were known by just their faces, not by name. Today, we talk about one of those actors who faded into oblivion with time.
Manik Irani may not have achieved as much fame as he should have, but he certainly stood out from the rest when he appeared on screen. With a height of 6’2” and a muscular physique, he often played the fearsome villain. Most of the leading men who fought against him on-screen were half of his size.
He was a regular at the National Health League Gymnasium way before the gym culture had hit India. His first film was Paap Aur Punya in 1974. He then played the main villain, Ajith’s son and henchman, in Kalicharan. He mostly played the role of strong henchmen of more well-known antagonists like Pran, Jeevan, Ajith, Amrish Puri and Prem Chopra. Manik Irani was also a stunt double, capable of performing the physical feats that the hero could not. Most famously, he doubled for Amitabh Bachchan in Don.
Subhash Ghai’s film Hero starring Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri brought Manik Irani some recognition and he began to be known as Billa, the name of the antagonistic character he played in the film. He also played the sinister demonic entity in the cult Ramsay horror film Purani Haveli.
Manik Irani’s personal life had been a troubled one. He got separated from his wife and had to single-handedly bring up his son. However, more grief awaited him as his son died of illness. Manik became an alcoholic towards the end of his life. The most puzzling fact is that no one knows when and how Manik passed away. There are different accounts of his death. Some say he passed away due to excessive drinking, some say he had an accident while other accounts say he took his own life. However, the mystery and uncertainty around his death surely expose the dark side of the film industry where character actors are often forgotten.
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