Striking terror as one of Hindi films’ leading villains of the 70s and early 80s, Ranjeet became synonymous with evil deeds, including scheming against the hero and molesting the heroine onscreen. He made his mark inPrakash Mehra’s Haath Ki Safai (1974),Namak Halaal(1982), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Sharaabi(1984),Laawaris (1981), and Manmohan Desai'sAmar Akbar Anthony (1977). Ranjeet redefined villainy in films like Victoria No. 203 (1972),Dharmatma (1975),Vishwanath (1978), and Rocky (1981). So popular were his wicked acts on screen, that distributors would apparently demand a rape scene with Ranjeet to boost ticket sales!
Born Gopal Bedi on 12 November, 1946, into an orthodox Sikh family in Jandiala Guru near Amritsar, he has acted in more than 200 films, playing negative as well as character roles. However, it is for his negative roles that he is most memorable. He is known for films such as Amir Garib (1974), andHeeralal Pannalal (1978). He also featured in teleserials and in Punjabi films.
The tall and well-built Ranjeet, who was also a keen footballer, had been pegged to be launched as hero in Zindagi Ki Rahen back in 1968. However, the film got shelved. He went on to garner attention for his negative role in Sharmeelee (1971), starringShashi Kapoor and Raakhee. Sunil Dutt had apparently been impressed by Ranjeet’s performances inSawan Bhadon(1970) andReshma Aur Shera(1971) and had recommended him for the same. Incidentally, when he did his first grey character in Sharmeelee, he was thrown out of his house by his orthodox family. His horrified parents presumed he had entered a profession where he would hurt and abuse girls to earn a living.
Establishing himself as a leading villain, Ranjeet has acted in numerous films from the 70s up until current times, including Bhai Ho Toh Aisa (1972), Kasam(1976), Dharam Veer(1977),The Burning Train(1980), Aakrosh (1998),Welcome (2007), and Housefull 4 (2019). Incidentally, Sajid Khan’s blockbuster Housefull 2 was a take-off on Ranjeet’s rapist image of yore, and he went on to receive numerous compliments after its release.
In his heyday, a time when stylists were an unknown phenomenon, Ranjeet devised a style of his own. He liked wearing huge lockets and to show them off, he had to leave the shirt buttons open. This sparked off a trend of the largely unbuttoned shirt, adding to the ‘bad boy’ image.
The tele serial Aisa Des Hai Mera saw Ranjeet playing a positive character. He essayed the role of Ranbir Singh Deol, the grandfather of the heroine, Rusty. Ranjeet has also acted in Punjabi films such as Rab Ne Banayian Jodiyan (2006) andMan Jeete Jag Jeet (1973).