Have gambling movies made an impact on Bollywood?

Gambling is one of the favourite topics of movie producers all over the world, and Bollywood is no exception. The fast-paced action of casinos creates a fantastic base for many storylines, and the tension can easily have viewers sitting at the edge of their seats. The main entertainment comes from the characters themselves, how they use mind games to influence both their opponents and the audience.

A scene from the movie Casino Royale highlighting the poker game that was pivotal to the plot.
A scene from the movie Casino Royale highlighting the poker game that was pivotal to the plot. Photo courtesy: Eon Productions

There have been some huge gambling movies released over the years, with some of the biggest and most well-known being Casino Royale, Rounders, Casino, Ocean’s 11, Maverick, The Hangover and The Gambler to name a few. CasinoSites has some intriguing facts about casinos, movies and the topsy-turvy relationship between actors and gambling.

You can read many interesting stories about some of the most famous gambling movies, such as the most popular places that they are filmed and some of the questionable gambling habits actors have.

Taking risks can be exciting, but because many people don’t want to take the risk themselves and lose their own money, watching a movie about it serves as a proxy for such excitement. It is safe to say that gambling movies have created their very own genre, with the emotional rollercoaster of high stakes gambling and risky moves transferred masterfully onto the big screen.

Additionally, film producers can play upon the stereotypes that come with gamblers to create unique storylines. Film producers can choose to either use the darker side of gambling where people may cheat, lie and get into trouble, or alternatively, they can present the glamorous side of the gambling world, where high-class casinos attract a very different type of clientele.

One of the biggest draws to gambling movies tends to be their predictability. Although the storylines of each movie may differ dramatically, they all tend to end in a similar way, and this may not be a bad thing.

Usually, the plot is as follows: The lead role falls into some trouble thanks to either gambling addiction or gambling skills. Then the film will proceed to show us either the trouble that gambling can get us or will end with the lead role overcoming their problems and coming out on top. The variations will depend on whether the filmmaker wants to show gambling as a positive or a negative venture.

One of the biggest draws to gambling movies tends to be their predictability
One of the biggest draws to gambling movies tends to be their predictability. Photo courtesy: Pixabay

The above scenarios are common for Hollywood-made movies, but the gambling movies in India tend to be different, mainly because gambling in India is heavily restricted, except for certain categories which like a lottery or betting on horse racing.

As time goes on, more people have started betting and gambling in casinos despite the fact that it is prohibited. Many believe that the laws surrounding gambling should be changed as they feel that a regulated gambling system could be a huge source of revenue for the state. Currently, only three states allow casinos; these are Goa, Daman, and Sikkim. There are many floating casinos.

Online gambling in India is a very small market and has only fairly recently begun to emerge. Currently, Sikkim permits an online lottery which accepts bets from people all over the country. It is expected that other states will follow suit in the years to come, leading to a major online gambling market throughout India.

Despite the lack of gambling in India, there are still a fair few gambling movies out there in Bollywood that have become very popular. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Teen Patti - This film was released in 2010 by director Lenna Yadav. The main storyline of the film is based around a mathematics professor who is working on a thesis of probability. He bases this thesis on the popular poker game of Teen Patti, a game that is played online and in English simply means ‘Three Cards’. The film takes a turn for the dark side when one of his students arranges for them to enter into casinos and private clubs. The game turns into something that neither of them could control, and in the end, the two characters even start to turn on each other. Starring Amitabh Yadav, Ben Kingsley, R. Madhavan, Raima Sen and Shradha Kapoor, the film helps to showcase some nefarious aspects of gambling in a creative fashion.

Gambler - Gambler is a much older film, released back in 1971, and could be described as a Bollywood thriller. The main plot follows Raja, who has been abandoned by his mother and has been brought up with Master, a criminal Don. Master wants Raja to continue working for him, which he does for a while, but in the process, starts to become very good at playing cards. Slowly he starts to make a fortune through card games and is able to stop working with Master. Suddenly, however, he is charged with the murder of Master. Many scenes take part in his trial, where the mysteries of his past start to unravel. The film stars Dev Anand, Zaheeda, Jeevan, Kishore Sahu and many other big names and was very successful upon release.

(From left) Mukesh Bhatt, Esha Gupta, Emraan Hashmi and Kunal Deshmukh at the success bash for 'Jannat 2'. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia
(From left) Mukesh Bhatt, Esha Gupta, Emraan Hashmi and Kunal Deshmukh at the success bash for 'Jannat 2'. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

Jannat - Jannat was brought out in 2008 and translates simply as ‘Heaven’. It is an Indian crime romance that was directed by Kunal Deshmukh. The film was not just a huge success in India, but had a following worldwide after its release, doing well at the box office and receiving a positive response from critics too. The story is based around a man who is trying to find heaven on earth but gets caught up in crime and consumerism. As a young con man, he has an obsession with making money quickly. Tired of playing low stakes card games, he becomes a bookie, and this is where he starts to make the real money. Things take a downward turn when he becomes involved in match-fixing which ultimately leads to his end. The film gives a strong message about greed and the negative impacts of gambling and stars Emraan Hashni, Sonal Chauhan, Sameer Kochar and Vishal Malhotra.

Striker - This film was released in 2010 and was both directed and produced by Chandan Arora. The factor that makes this film stand out from the others is the fact that it is based on true life incidents. Surya, the main character, is a poor boy that was introduced to the game of Carrom at a very young age. Eventually, he becomes very good at it and even wins a championship when at the age of 12. Soon he moves on to more dangerous territory, spurred on by his passion for the game and the fact that he loses all of his savings. The film culminates in a very tense but exciting game of Carrom played by Surya against the shady character of Jaleel. Despite not being particularly successful in the box office, seeing as it was the first film in history to premiere on the same day on YouTube, it raked up the impressive 800,000 views in the first two weeks.

The Great Gambler - This movie features an expert gambler named Jai whose claim is that he has never lost a game. Unfortunately, this gets noticed by the wrong sort of people who try to hire him in order to win them a rather large sum of money. Jai agrees to help out and plays very successfully. Things take a turn for the worse when he is tricked into the entrapment of a government worker. Viewers are kept on their edge of their seats thanks to the storyline’s many twists and turns. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Neetu Singh and Prem Chopra and was directed by Shakti Samanta. It was not hugely successful at the box office but has since obtained cult status.

It looks likely that the future popularity of gambling movies will continue to grow as people become more and more enthralled by gambling as a whole. Today, with the rise of online gambling, it is becoming easier and easier for people to have access to gambling in some form whenever and wherever they are.

Gambling movies can have a huge impact on the image of gambling, as they can show the habit in both a positive and negative light.

One of the main worries about gambling movies is that they can glamourise the activity, and in some cases can encourage viewers to take part without warning about the potential risks and addictive nature of gambling.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are the author's alone and do not reflect the views of Connected to India and the management of the company does not assume any responsibility or liability.

Karthik Reddy
Karthik Reddy – Contributor

Karthik Reddy, a community manager at casinosites.me.uk, is the author of an Indian travel blog. With an MBA in computer science, he decided to get away from the office desk life and take a journey around the world. A passionate traveller and photography enthusiast, he aspires to share his experiences and help people see the world through his lens.


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