Soon after a suicide bomber walked into a luxury hotel and blew himself up in Sri Lanka, debutant actor Karan Kapadia is all set to play a suicide bomber in Blank. Assuredly, he gives us a vivid picture into the “blank” mind of a brainwashed alleged jihadi. Karan has an impressive lineage of onscreen suicide bombers to live up to.
1. Ayesha Dharker in The Terrorist (2000)
In this moving haunting portrait of a suicide bomber on a mission to kill Rajiv Gandhi, Ayesha Dharker gave a career-defining performance as Malli, a child-woman on a self-destructive mission who discovers the true meaning and relevance of life when she becomes pregnant. In a role that cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan conceived for Tabu, Dharker was raw, visceral and devastating. This human bomb ticked all the right boxes.
2. Tabu in Hu Tu Tu (1999)
This is why Tabu refused to do Santosh Sivan’s film. She had already played a human bomb in her favourite director Gulzar’s last film as director. In this confused terror-treatise about the growing decay and corruption in Indian politics and the youth’s protest against the rot that has set in, Tabu played Pannu, the headstrong impetuous daughter of a corrupt politician (Sushasini Mulay) who blows herself up at her mother’s political rally. More memorable for Tabu’s bobbed haircut than its political statement.
3. Manisha Koirala in Dil Se... (1998)
Manisha played the nomadic human bomb whom Shah Rukh Khan chases down to the end of the world and then explodes in ecstasy. Manisha’s portrayal of the militant with nothing to lose was filled with smothered screams of agonized protest. She humanized the human bomb without romanticizing her predicament. But yes, this film could have avoided making an enigmatic martyr out of the woman who has a blast. Quite literally.
4. Tulip Joshi in Dhokha (2007)
In this Mahesh Bhatt presentation a well-to-do Muslim husband discovers his wife is a secret human bomb. The killer woman played by Tulip Joshi is shown to be a Kashmiri rape victim out for vendetta. No wonder Kangana Ranaut said no to this convoluted film.
5. Karan Kapadia in Blank (2019)
He doesn’t know why he did what he did. Like many young jihadis the suicide bomber that debutant Karan Kapadia plays in Blank is a misguided zealot akin to the bombers who blew up innocent churchgoers and tourists in Sri Lanka recently. Interestingly we have had some beautiful actresses playing human bombs before. Karan Kapadia has an incendiary legacy to live up to. This confident debutant blows the screen apart as he mines the mind of a brainwashed young jihadi.