Its the 21st century, and we no longer expect the Hero of the movie to be super-pious, kind, uber-romantic, winning everyone's hearts and the cherry on your double-fudge sundae. With the rise and awareness on socially relevant subjects, the audience has decided to give the variants of the hero and the villans much needed attention and support because cliched subjects aren't driving the cinema towards revolutionary directions. The plots have become leading-edge and the actors have become testimonial to the fact that we are embracing the grey shades of people, trying to understand their intentions so we can fix what's wrong with the society.
Let's take a look at the relevance of the anti-hero and the anti-villains in movies:
An anti-hero is a character that has heroic intentions (justice, protecting the innocent), but takes on villaineous means. They are important because they drive the narrative, often causing the character in the traditional villain role to become the anti-villain, an oppositional force that can be oddly sympathetic or even morally superior to the antihero. Antiheroes can be characterized as protagonists that are flawed to a degree and have a certain amount of negative qualities, and can consequently run the gamut from being misguided, to prejudiced to being downright criminal. What they have in common – and what makes them so compelling to watch – is that we get to see things from their perspectives. For example, SRK in Baazigar (that's my first memory of the anti-hero). Baazigar is the film that established SRK as the anti-hero. Ajay Sharma, played by SRK, is the son of a businessman that is conned by his employee Madan Chopra. Ajay’s father and sister die because they can’t afford medicines when ill. Ajay swears to destroy Chopra and his family. He is ruthless as he pretends to love both of Chopra’s daughters, even killing one of them. But, what was his perspective? His perspective was to plain get revenge. Being vengeful happens when you're down-trotten and in a position of eminence to another party. You have nothing to gain from it, thus you become vengeful. Its a bruised ego, that can only be satisfied when you get to a position to maneuver their happiness. That's the persepective.
In contrast, an anti-villain, has less-than-noble intentions, and also on a macro scale (world domination, bank robbery), and pursues them with fairly benign methods. His happiness only comes from causing damage at a worldly-level, causing mass hysteria, of avalance proportions. The itty-bitty stuff isn't their cup of tea. Where as the anti-heroes drive the plot, the anti-villans provide great content for the climax. We support their ideals, be it for cinematic amusement or for wisdom, but it actually damns them. They have the ultimate dreams and they go overboard along the way and too much erosion has been done for us to redeem them in our eyes. For example, Mogambo from Mr India. Famous actor Amrish Puri that played Mogambo carved a niche by his histrionics in the sci-fi film that gave the audience an edge-of-the-seat thrill. He had a costume, a skull-stick, a throne and a group of loyalists that would jump in acid water on his call. Acid water, people!!!! What can you learn from the anti-villain? That dream as big as you are! Farcical big dreams, and he wasn't afraid to announce them to the world either. He wanted to rule the country, not just a gali, not just a koocha, an entire country. He wanted the whole world to proclaim 'Hail Mogambo! King of India.' He didn't care if people would laugh and say 'That's impossible!' He believed in himself, and with that courage of conviction he fulfilled his dreams.
Irrespective of being an anti-hero or anti-villain, the idea is to market your vison and mission with such conviction that it has everyone on board. Their characters over the years are so intriguing that entire ethos of whats good and whats slipshod are blurred. Outstanding, erie, interesting, so much strife and a victory that is rationalized, albeit not appreciated. The barometer of piousness breaches your faith in humankind in so many ways, its like living numerous lifetimes in one.