As the Ranbir Kapoor starrer ‘Sanju’ a biopic on Sanjay Dutt, hits theatres this Friday, it marks an era in which Bollywood has found success in depicting the biographies of numerous celebrities in different fields.
The genre of drama infused with biographies acts not only as a form of entertainment but also brings in a certain amount of educational and inspirational material. Although most biopics have been known for adding little dramatic details in order to cater to the audience’s sense of masala and entertainment, there is rarely any doubt that these biopics have made a mammoth impact on the big screen.
Without further ado, here’s a list of ten biopics which have been compelling enough to strain the purses of Indian moviegoers.
The Dirty Picture (2011):
Directed by Milan Luthria, ‘The Dirty Picture’ shows the life of erotic South Indian actress Silk Smitha. The lead cast features Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi. Ekta Kapoor takes the producer’s seat for this film. Vidya Balan had to take salsa classes in order to understand Silk Smitha’s sensual body language.
Paan Singh Tomar (2012):
Irrfan Khan stars in the move as Paan Singh Tomar, a soldier of the Indian Army. Paan Singh Tomar was actually a gold medallist in the Indian National Games. However, situations led him to take on the mantle of a bandit. The film is directed by Timangshu Dhulia, with Ronnie Screwvala as the producer. The film and Irrfan’s performance in it has won multiple awards.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013):
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s hit 2013 movie ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ portrays the life and difficulties faced by one of India’s greatest athletes, Milkha Singh. The film stars Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor in the lead roles and is based on ‘The Race of My Life’, the autobiography of Milkha Singh. Milkha Singh, however, decided to charge the producers only a single rupee for depicting his life on the big screen and did not want to monetize his life.
Mary Kom (2014):
Directed by Omung Kumar, with Sanjay Leela Bhansali as the producer, the film stars Priyanka Chopra in the lead role as Mary Kom and shows her struggle as she fights to become an Olympian. Controversy surrounded the film when it was revealed that Priyanka Chopra was actually offered a large amount of money, greater than what Mary Kom actually made throughout her career as a boxer.
Manjhi – The Mountain Man (2015):
Dashrath Manjhi is no ordinary man. He was called a lunatic by his own people, but was later widely known as the “Mountain Man”. Dashrath was a poor labourer from Bihar, who carved a path through a mountain using only a chisel and a hammer. Ketan Mehta directed Manjhi- The Mountain Man with Nawazuddin Siddiqui enacted the role of Dashrath Manjhi, while Radhika Apte played Manjhi’s wife.
When it comes to masterpieces, ‘Dangal’ remains the undisputed king of biopics in Bollywood. Nitesh Tiwari takes the director’s seat, while Aamir Khan takes the lead and also produces the movie. The fact that Mahavir Phogat and his daughters were initially not accepted by their village due to breaking barriers and society’s stigma and the story of their following success is depicted masterfully.
M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016):
Neeraj Pandey is credited as the director of this film, and has Sushant Singh Rajput and Disha Patani in the lead roles, with Anupam Kher as a part of the supporting cast. The film is an interpretation of the life of former Indian cricket team captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Dhoni’s manager, Arun Pandey, was actually the first person to come up with the idea of a biopic for Dhoni.
Sonam Kapoor takes the lead role in ‘Neerja’. Ram Madhvani is the director of the film. ‘Neerja’ depicts the tense story of the Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking which took place in Karachi, Pakistan. Sonam Kapoor plays Neerja Bhanot, the flight stewardess who put her life in danger in order to save the passengers on the flight. The film is actually the highest grossing movie in Bollywood, which has a female as the lead.
Director Ashim Ahluwalia and Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal come together with a bang in ‘Daddy’. The gangster drama is a biopic depicting the life of Bombay based gangster, Arun Gawli. Set in the seedy underbelly of the Bombay of 1980s, this movie and Rampal’s performance garnered critical acclaim. The film is produced by Arjun Rampal himself, as he shares his screen time with actress Aishwarya Rajesh.
Pad Man (2018):
One of this decade’s most important films from a social aspect, R. Balki’s film ‘Pad Man’ is produced by Twinkle Khanna and stars Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte as the lead cast. It is based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who understood the sanitary problems faced by women and introduced cheap and effective sanitary pads into the mix. A short story from Twinkle Khanna’s book “The Legend of Laxmi Prasad” also played a part in the making of this film.
Sanju, Soorma, Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, Manto, ’83, Super 30, The Accidental Prime Minister