It’s raining biopics in Bollywood this season. While the year has already seen some riveting biopics like Pad Man, Omerta and Raazi, director Rajkumar Hirani is all set to present his take on actor Sanjay Dutt’s tumultous life with Sanju later next month. Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Paresh Rawal and others, Sanju’s first trailer is due for release today.
The biopic tide has been nothing short of an obsession for filmmakers lately with six biopics in 2017, three already released in 2018 and more than five biopics planned for the rest of the year including the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Manikarnika, The Accidental Prime Minister based on Manmohan Singh’s life and Kapil Dev’s biopic among others.
While personalities belonging to diverse walks of life have been impersonated for the celluloid in the past, there are a very few Bollywood biopics that have stood out from the crowd. Often, the events are fictionalised to an extent that the essence of a true story itself is lost in the mayhem. While the contention between reality and fiction will always go on, whether these biopics make for compelling cinematic works is another debate altogether.
But sometimes, Bollywood too, has been able to strike that right chord between real life and imaginative writing that the results have been true-blue gems to boast of. Before Sanju’s trailer arrives today, we list down five such realistic yet entertaining biopics in Bollywood:
This 1994 film is a fascinating account of the life of Phoolan Devi. Phoolan Devi was an infamous bandit of the 70s who later even became a Member of Parliament. With the exceptionally talented Seema Biswas as Phoolan Devi, Bandit Queen was a powerful piece of work chronicling the rise and fall of various gang leaders and Phoolan Devi in particular. Helmed by veteran filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, Bandit Queen even won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.
The Dirty Picture
Inspired by the life of Silk Smitha, a south Indian actress known for her steamy roles, The Dirty Picture was a big commercial success. While Vidya Balan set the bar high with her fierce yet sultry act as Silk, even the rest of the cast including Naseeruddin Shah and Emraan Hashmi gave note-worthy performances. The film makes a poignant tale on how the film industry breeds on eroticism but refuses to accept it in public.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
The 2013 Farhan Akhtar film was based on the life of Mikha Singh, an Olympian and National Champion in running. Helmed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was appreciated for its stark portrayal of the ups and downs that led to Milkha’s future victories. The film was also able to successfully capture the traumatic effects of the historic India-Pakistan partition of 1947 and how it shaped Milkha’s childhood.
Paan Singh Tomar
Based on athlete Paan Singh Tomar’s life, the 2012 film explored how a reverrant army officer transformed into a notorious dacoit. While the film was headlined by one of the finest Bollywood actors — Irrfan Khan, Paan Singh Tomar went on to win various commercial and critical accolades. With Paan Singh Tomar, director Tigmanshu Dhulia was also able to paint a true picture of the ground realities of Madhya Pradesh.
Based on the life of flight attendant Neerja Bhanot, the 2016 film Neerja is single-handedly responsible for proving Sonam Kapoor’s acting chops to the world. The movie revolves around the hijacking incident of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan where Neerja saved many lives but lost her own. The heart-touching story, directed by Ram Madhvani, is an apt tribute to Neerja’s daunting spirit and sacrificing attitude.