My father told me this – when Sholay released in 1975, children used to be scared of ‘Gabbar Singh’. He was the epitome of evilness, the ultimate villain. However, years later when Baazigar released in 1993, women crooned over the anti-hero character Ajay played by Shah Rukh. He did some awful things, but he wasn’t considered all bad.
When I was introduced to the corporate world, I had the misfortune of working with a terrible boss. He was rude and strict and confused and …I could go on and on but you get the point. He was the ultimate villain of my life back then.
And then one day I ran into him at a restaurant during the weekend. My first instinct was to hide and run out. But then he saw me and I couldn’t do that anymore. He called me over. I reluctantly went to him and noticed he had his family along. He introduced me to his wife, kid and father and then even added some (completely unexpected) praise for me. I said hello to all and then excused myself…I had friends waiting.
Over the next hour I noticed things in him I never had earlier. He was smiling most of the time, his kid seemed to adore him, he was even helpful to his father who was old. In other words he wasn’t behaving like the super-villain I always took him to be. I am sure to his family he must be the hero.
And that is when I realized it – There are no villains…only heroes (good people who do good things) and anti-heroes (good people who sometimes do bad things).
Somewhere along the years I had forgotten this important lesson. I was reminded of it recently when I noticed someone I used to detest earlier do something nice. Now I don’t detest him any more, but yes I don’t like certain things he does. Separating the deed from the doer makes all the difference.