THE MOST POPULAR BOLLYWOOD GAMBLING MOVIES
The action at the live casino rooms can often be a perfect partner for the film industry. From James Bond onwards, a host of movies have used card games and roulette as an essential part of the plot.
The drama and excitement at the tables is perfectly replicated by the writers. Whether it’s the main part of the story or an interesting sub-plot, casino play is a useful tool. Examples can be found right across the sector, and a number of Bollywood movies have harnessed gambling as a theme. Here are some of the best.
The Great Gambler: 1979
The title of this 1979 release is an obvious clue to the main theme. In one of the earliest Bollywood films to feature gambling, we meet the central character, Jai. He’s been playing poker with real money stakes for years and has gained a reputation for never losing.
Jai continues to scoop high prize pots, but his skills have attracted the attention of Ratan Das, the boss of a criminal underworld gang who wants to exploit his talents. Das sets up poker games between Jai and a host of wealthy, celebrity individuals.
When Jai wins, the defeated parties suffer further when Das attempts to blackmail them. Those methods are not always successful and, while caught up in the process, issues from Jai’s personal life surface.
The Great Gambler is an authentic film which is celebrated for its true-to-life portrayal of the career of a professional card player.
Teen Patti: 2010
One of the more recent Bollywood releases to showcase a gambling theme focuses on a game that is specific to India. Perhaps that’s why Teen Patti has been such a success. The movie brings together two college professors, India’s Venkat and his English colleague named Percy.
The two men share interests in the theory and practice of mathematical probability and they begin to test their findings in card games. In time, they involve their students and begin to tackle the big casinos before taking on professional Teen Patti players.
Teen Patti, the film, didn’t enjoy the best movie reviews from critics, but it attracted huge audiences and it still attracts a loyal following today.
The Striker: 2010
There are some similarities between 2010 release The Striker and the Great Gambler which appeared over thirty years previously. Both feature a young boy with a dream whose talents will eventually attract the attention of the underworld.
The key difference with The Striker is the fact that it is based on a true story. A young boy grows up in the Indian suburbs and he develops a passion for the game of Carrom. Blessed with a natural talent, he advances through the ranks and wins a major tournament.
A criminal gang are alerted to his qualities and they involve him in a plan to scam other players. Caught in their web, the hero of The Striker, Suryakant Sarang, suffers at a personal level before seeking revenge.
Jannat is a film that has gambling at its heart, but it covers so much more. The personal lives of the main characters are under the spotlight to a much greater intensity than other titles on this list.
Released in 2008, it focuses on Arjun Dixit who starts by making a successful career at the card tables. His natural gift extends into other territories, specifically cricket betting where there is an underworld element to the story once again.
While his chosen career continues in the background, Jannat examines the relationship between Arjun and his partner Zoya. His aim was to make them rich and to give them a comfortable life, but his activities have placed an unbearable strain on that relationship.
We’ll finish with the original gambling movie within the Bollywood industry. Many would also argue that 1971’s Gambler is also the best. It starts with the tale of an orphan boy named Raja. Abandoned by his mother, Raja is raised by a man known simply as ‘Master’.
Master does his job, but he doesn’t always have the boy’s best interests at heart. In time, Raja is involved in his adoptive father’s criminal underworld, setting a theme for others to follow.
Raja uses his playing skills to break free and start his own life. Gambler then focuses more on personal issues, specifically Raja’s pursuit of Chandra who is engaged to another man. While the themes switch, this release is seen as a classic gambling movie which touches on more common human themes.
Gambling will always offer a great theme for the movie industry, and this list can only grow in the years that follow. Drama and tense action at the tables transfer perfectly to the big screen.
For now, these are the best of the Bollywood movies to use this genre, but we can be certain that more blockbuster releases are already in the planning stage.