Beyond Heroes: The unconventional Villains we couldn't forget in Kollywood's 2023 films!

(This article is authored by Alar)

Kollywood has once again proven its mettle in delivering unexpected twists and turns, especially when it comes to the portrayal of villains. In the year 2023, the silver screen witnessed a lineup of antagonists that left audiences both awestruck and intrigued. As the spotlight usually shines on heroes and heroines, this year saw a remarkable twist with some of the industry's most unexpected actors taking on villainous roles.

From seasoned performers known for their heroics to Bollywood icons making a grand entry into Kollywood's darker side, the silver screen was graced by actors who not only played villains but brought an unparalleled charm to roles we never imagined them in. Here's a laid-back take on the top and unexpectedly brilliant villains that graced Tamil cinema this year.

Fahadh Faasil in Maamannan:

Fans didn't think that Fahadh Faasil, the celebrated Malayalam actor, would step as a bad villain. In "Maamannan," he took on the role of Rathnavel, a political heavy-hitter with a penchant for cruelty. Faasil's flawless performance not only sparked conversations but also stirred a bit of controversy for glorifying the complexity of a caste-loving villain. Social media buzzed with discussions on his unexpected and trend-setting entry into Kollywood.

In the political drama Maamannan, directed by Mari Selvaraj, he played the role of Rathnavel, the district secretary of a political party and the son of a former minister. Rathnavel is a ruthless and arrogant leader, who treats the lower caste people with contempt and violence. He clashes with Maamannan (Vadivelu), a Dalit MLA who rose from the ranks of the same party, and his son Athiveeran (Udhayanidhi Stalin), who stands up for his father's dignity and self-respect. Fahadh Faasil delivered an impeccable performance as the antagonist, who instills fear and hatred in the viewers with his cold and cruel demeanor. He also showed his versatility by speaking fluent Tamil with a native accent.

Vinayakan in Jailer:

Vinayakan, hailing from the Malayalam film industry, brought his A-game to Nelson Dhilipkumar's Jailer, an action-packed thriller starring Rajinikanth. As Varman, the Malayali idol smuggler, Vinayakan's portrayal of a sadistic and humorously dark villain stole the spotlight. His on-screen intensity matched the charisma of the legendary Rajinikanth, creating a buzz that resonated far beyond the movie's runtime.

Sanjay Dutt in Leo:

Bollywood's own Sanjay Dutt made a smashing debut in Tamil cinema with Leo. Playing Antony Das, a powerful Mumbai gangster with conviction and style. Dutt's screen presence was nothing short of spectacular. The clash of titans between Dutt and Vijay in a gripping storyline took the audience on a rollercoaster ride. Dutt's fluent Tamil delivery added an extra layer of authenticity to his menacing character, leaving fans eagerly awaiting more from this cross-border collaboration. 

He played the role of Antony Das, a powerful and menacing gangster who rules Mumbai with an iron fist. Antony Das is the elder brother of Leo Das (Vijay), who was presumed dead many years ago. Antony Das travels to Shimla to meet Parthiban (also Vijay), a café owner and animal rescuer, who he believes is Leo Das. Antony Das tries to harass and threaten Parthiban, who denies being Leo Das and claims to be his lookalike.

Sarath Babu in Por Thozhil:

In one of his final roles before his passing, Sarath Babu shocked audiences in "Por Thozhil" as a serial killer. In the crime thriller directed by Vignesh Raja, where he played the role of a serial killer, who targets young women and strangles them with an iron wire in a secluded place.

Sarath Babu's role was kept as a secret until the climax of the film, where he is revealed by police Loganathan (R. Sarathkumar) and Prakash (Ashok Selvan) in solving the case. Sarath Babu's role was a complete contrast to his usual image of a gentle and dignified person. The veteran actor, known for his dignified persona, took a 180-degree turn to portray a psychopathic murderer. The revelation in the climax added a poignant note to his illustrious career, making this film a memorable and unexpected swansong.

Mysskin in Maaveeran:

Mysskin, the director turned actor, took on the role of the main antagonist in "Maaveeran." Following a mishap, a meek cartoonist portrayed by Sivakarthikeyan experiences a peculiar twist – he starts hearing the voice of a character from his own comic creation. As Sathya navigates the guidance provided by this unexpected voice, he finds himself entangled in a confrontation with the corrupt Housing Minister, M. N. Jeyakodi, played by Mysskin.  It turns out, according to the mysterious voice, that Jeyakodi, responsible for the construction of the apartment, is Sathya's "worst enemy."

Battling it out with Sivakarthikeyan, Mysskin brought his creative flair to the forefront. The film, blending politics and a touch of the supernatural, showcased Mysskin's versatility in a way that surprised and captivated audiences.  "Maaveeran," a political drama skillfully directed by Madonne Ashwin, unfolds this intriguing narrative. Ashwin, who earned the National Award for his debut directorial venture, "Mandela,"

SJ Suryah in Mark Antony:

SJ Suryah, the multi-talented actor and filmmaker, embraced the role of a dual comic villain in "Mark Antony." Playing both Jackie and Madhan, the father-son duo, Suryah added his eccentric touch to the film's science fiction and action-comedy blend. The film revolves around a time-travelling phone that can save Mark’s estranged mother from a grim fate, but he must navigate through dangerous consequences of altering the past while facing his own family’s legacy.

SJ Suryah breathes life into both his characters as a villain brilliantly. He is known for his eccentric portrayal, and with Jackie and Madhan, he has reiterated that he is the best when it comes to this particular playground.