Bollywood is a rather amusing place. While it is a dumping ground for extensive gossip, it also has a few individuals who have come in aid of society; while there are young stars who receive stardom just because of the accolades their parents have achieved in this nepotism-bound sphere, there are quite a few first-generation superstars who have worked tirelessly to be where they are right now—it is safe to state that Bollywood is a land of contradictions.
In this regard, while Bollywood has made a great number of hits in terms of both quality numbers at the box office as well as content and quality, the idea of betting and gambling always seemed to meet the needs for the niche audience who were looking for something ‘different’ from Bollywood, considering how the concept of an ‘anti-hero’ was propagated by such films. While some films threw light on the idea of poker, andar bahar online cash game, or the very idea and lifestyle of ones visiting the casino, others showed the life and legalities bookies had to undergo. In any case, these are the best Bollywood films about gambling.
Teen Patti (2010)
Ever wondered whether the greatest Bollywood actor of all time, Amitabh Bachchan shifted from mainstream films of playing the role of a strict father-in-law, look no further than ‘Teen Patti’. Despite being one of the most controversial films, ‘Teen Patti’ is a must-watch for ardent fans of Bachchan, and also the ones who have doubted his acting skills and ability to take roles different from a mainstream action hero.
In this film, Bachchan plays the role of Venkat Subramaniam, a benevolent mathematics professor who teaches poor and underprivileged kids in a village. Everything seems in place until Subramaniam receives a letter from one of the greatest English mathematicians of all time, Perci Trachtenberg, inviting him to a casino where he was unable to solve a major mathematical equation that could prove a lot of complex theories based around probability and randomness.
Considering the recluse that he is, Venkat refuses the offer, and instead gets an idea that possibly ruins the course of his life as well as others. Instead of solving the equations as it is, Venkat uses the idea and implements it in a game of ‘teen patti’, a complex card game that requires technical prowess in the field of—yes, probability. Venkat recruits three youngsters and teaches them how to implement these mathematical equations into real world usage, and this is where things take a morbid turn.
The youngsters visit an underground club to play games of teen patti, winning matches in abundance, and in the process, fall victim to a sinister dose of serotonin, and succumb to the idea of incessant betting. Quite naturally, they do not know how to stop, and in the process, face a multitude of hurdles and complications in life, of which backstabbing is the least. Overall, this is a watchable film, showing the dark realities of ones who fall prey to gambling.
It is rather accurate to state that cricket is one of the most followed sports in the world, and possibly the most sought after in India. While the average audience follows it for stardom, there are umpteen number of reasons why cricket is so popular in the country. Jannat is a rather meticulously made film that not only embarks on the popularity of the game and the insides of the cricketing world, but also shows the darker side of the cricketing world that involves vices such as match-fixing and spot-fixing that comes along with it.
Jannat is about an astute youngster named Arjun, who wishes to make it big in life. Lacking resources but oozing talent, presence of mind and street-smarts, Arjun makes a quick quid or two by placing minimal bets with bookies. One fine day, he meets a woman named Zoya, who later turns out to be a pivotal figure in shaping the course of the film. After being acquainted with each other and a few intimate moments, they fall in love with each other, and eventually end up getting married.
In the course of events, Arjun visits South Africa, where he meets Don Abu Ibrahim, and soon becomes an important figure in the bookie world, bordering on the lines of illegality. After being arrested, Zoya requests Arjun to stop this vindictive life of betting. Arjun, after being released, takes the job of a bartender, but one fine day, the ghosts of his past haunt him in the form of Don Abu Ibrahim—what happens after is for the viewer to find out.
Bollywood is infamous for its cliched roles, banal storyline, and plots that resonate with a stupefying sense of boredom. However, classics like these are highly underrated, and for the most part, are rather accurate examples of the dark side of life, and the harsh realities of life and bookie culture.