It is always good to write an entire article about the protagonist. But how about doing the same for the antagonist, especially the larger than life Shelly Rungta in The Night Manager because he deserves a fair share for having made the cinema engaging till the end? They exist, and that is why protagonists exist too. They are the yin and yang of cinema who cannot live without each other.
Shailendra ‘Shelly’ Rungta, is the agrotech businessman who runs a major arms racket behind this façade of a global entrepreneur because this is what keeps him dynamic and seeing his arms and ammunition on display gives him a high. He is a despicable man, as described by Lipika on her first mission to Syria. The man did not flinch over the deaths of schoolkids right in front of his eyes. Shelly is addicted to the luxurious lifestyle and it is only possible because of his profession.
Shelly is a good father to Taha, as he makes sure to give him enough time. It is not known why his wife left him, but it can be assumed that Shelly, the megalomaniac that he is, probably could not keep up with it. She must have left the marriage just to save some self-respect. Shelly is good enough to let Taha be because the boy is interested in cooking, and he never discourages him from following his passion. Shelly is now a husband for the second time, he and Kaveri seem to have made a deal with each other about not asking who they are and what is their past.
She seems to be okay with who he is as long as she can live life grandly. Shelly was also happy to have a wife like Kaveri, who did not question the source of his income because he was not ready to share these details with her. He believed that if her materialistic needs were taken care of, he would not have to worry. For him, Kaveri was just a trophy wife; even though they’ve had few moments of intimacy. But that did not stop him from suspecting his wife of being a mole who was sharing his information with R&AW agent Lipika. The man had reached such a juncture in his life that he had all the luxury in the world, but he finally resorted to suspecting his inner circle, which consisted of two of his best friends as well.
The only mistake the man made was to let Shaan get too close to his life. This shows that when a man becomes too powerful for his own good, he lets loose and becomes smug about the fact that no one will be able to outsmart him. Shelly and his circle of friends were a fortress, and Shaan’s being able to penetrate that shows how much the former must have let his guard down. Brij was the one who always suspected Shaan and wanted Shelly not to go easy on the newbie. Shelly should just have listened to the intuition of his oldest friend.
Shelly gave away his power way too early to Shaan, which seems very uncharacteristic of him because it has been implied in many places before that Shelly never showed trust this quickly. Maybe the fact that Shaan rescued Taha and tugged on Shelly’s emotional side by involving his son made the latter loosen up a bit. Shaan took advantage and kept sharing information with Lipika. The fact that he convinced Freddie in Dhaka to kill his wife because she compromised their mission proves that Shelly is an articulate man whose one mistake allowing Shaan in led to his downfall.
The R&AW also admits to the fact that their need to protect him stems from the fact that he fuels the civil unrest in neighboring nations. It was his way of protecting the nation’s interests. The R&AW was directly involved in his large-scale illegal work because they cannot be seen actively engaging in increasing tension in the sub-continent. Shelly does that for them at the price of them giving him immunity.
Shelly’s power is on display when he showcases the weapons to his clients, and the delight on his face is scary to witness. He admits to being content when the weapons explode in front of his eyes, which proves that he is hardly worried about how these life-threatening objects affect the people around the world who are caught in the war. Shelly is unstoppable and overconfident at this point because he manages to get hold of another party who is willing to buy his arms. This happens to be a terrorist outfit from a certain neighboring country. By doing this, he walks away from the deal he made with R&AW because he believes he is too big for the Indian intelligence and does not want to be tamed by them anymore.
His multiple acts of overconfidence and arrogance led to his doom. Even though he found out Shaan was the mole, it was too late because Shaan was many miles ahead in his planning. By the end of it, Shelly was in a situation where he had to compromise on a deal with Shaan because he was helpless. This deal was just a trap to arrest Shelly because they knew exactly what the man would do to salvage himself and his business. The man was finally arrested, but by the looks of it, he was given away to the terrorist outfit with whom his deal went off track. Knowing he would not repay their money, they took it upon themselves to deal with him. They did this with the intention of not letting him go out of their hands. His extradition to India would mean they would never get hold of him. They will not shy away from killing him for the betrayal. Shelly brought this disaster upon himself and he deserves everything coming his way after this.