#NewsBytesExplainer: Breaking down round characters in films—definition, features, examples
The films that stand the test of time are best remembered due to their memorable, distinctive, and well-etched-out characters. In addition to the film's script, setting, locations, packaging, and overall tone, it's the characters who must stand out effortlessly, or the movie runs the risk of being called run-of-the-mill. Why are round characters essential and what do they exactly mean? Dive right in.
Both villains and traditional 'heroes' can fit into the category
Round characters, discussed widely in literature and films, refer to fictional characters who are well-written, well-developed, and essentially have a journey of their own throughout the film/series. They are vocal, independent, articulate, layered, nuanced, multidimensional, and characterized by a clarity of thoughts/ambition and other similar attributes that strike them apart. Round characters need not be always positive, and villains fit into this category, too.
Round characters are capable of change in personality and perspective
Over the course of a film, round characters are capable of undergoing a pertinent change. They have a coming-of-age journey that further adds to their personality and perspective. This may happen due to a plot revelation or a series of events in their life. Per Studio Binder, "Round characters have the ability to do something unexpected as opposed to characters who remain consistent throughout."
How are they different from flat characters?
An easy way to fathom round characters is to contrast them with flat characters, which, as the name suggests, refers to characters that lack any sort of depth or gravitas and often fail to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. They mostly act in a supporting role and propel the plot ahead, but the audience's information about them is always limited and finite.
This is how an ordinary character becomes a round character
There are a few aspects that a character must check off in order to qualify as a round character. To elaborate, they must have a motivation in mind (which is exposed through the plot), their actions must justify the choices they make along the way, and they must evolve in some manner throughout the film. Much-needed conflict also facilitates eventual character development.
Which of these characters is your favorite?
Multiple Hollywood films and web series have well-written, round characters, who have even garnered cult status gradually. Severus Snape and Harry Potter from The Harry Potter franchise, Walter White from Breaking Bad, Marty Byrde from Ozark, Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin from Aladdin, Jack Shephard and John Locke from Lost, and Saul Goodman from Better Call Saul are noteworthy examples.
These are some examples of round characters in Indian films
Over the years, Indian cinema has given us numerous robust, round characters who did most of the heavy lifting in their respective movies. Some prominent examples include Mohan Bhargava from Swades, Kabir from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Kabir Khan from Chak De! India, Jai-Veeru from Sholay, Haider from Haider, Vinayak from Tummbad, Geet from Jab We Met, and Rani from Queen, among others.