5 Reel Characters Who Breathed Life Into Real-Life Characters
Popular GEC channels Star Plus, Colours, Sony Max and Star Gold have gone back to airing blockbusters of the 90s and early 2000s and sports broadcasters Star Sports, Sony ESPN, Sony Ten have decided to air India’s victorious World Cup campaigns, Sachin Tendulkar’s knocks and many more. And mind you, all of them have managed to get people hooked to the television screens.
It is therefore rather confusing and at times baffling to fathom as to why it took the film industry decades in understanding a merger between sports and movies is perhaps the best way forward. There were scattered films like Boxer (1984), Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar (1992) which dared to bet on sports but it was not until the 2000s that Bollywood had the courage to dedicate films to sports. And when they did, masterpieces like Lagaan (2001) Iqbal (2005), Chak De India (2007) followed. Naturally, the next step was to portray the lives of India’s iconic sportspersons on the silver screen and in came the trend of biopic revolving around Indian athletes.
Here we will talk about the best of Indian sports biopics
1. Paan Singh Tomar (2012): It was one of the top searches in the evening of April 29, 2020 – the day India lost Irrfan Khan forever. But he lived through his work and the searches indicated Paan Singh Tomar was one of his finest ones. Director Tighmanshu Dhulia decided to break away from India’s most worshipped sports-stars and throw light into the world of a Subedar turned steeplechase runner and later on a Chambal valley ‘baghi. The film’s outstanding depiction of a sportsperson’s life, his struggle, his fight against the system took the box office by storm and also the best feature film award in the 60th National Film Awards. Irrfan Khan’s acting lifted the film several notches and he received the National Award for the best actor.
2. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013): Actor Farhan Akhtar had said in an interview that he had to go through rigorous training of six months to prepare for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag based on the life of India’s most famed track and field runner Milkha Singh. But even then he believed, he wasn’t up to the standards of Milkha Singh. Released in 2013, the Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra movie continues to be one of the best biopics made in India and it was well-received by the critics and audience alike.
3. Mary Kom (2014): Not as successful as Paan Singh Tomar or Bhaag Milkha Bhaag but Mary Kom was in a way a landmark in Bollywood. A sports biopic based on a female athlete is considered to be a risky proposition but director Omung Kumar and producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali took that risk with Priyanka Chopra as the lead and it paid off. Chopra displayed the life of six-time World Champion MC Mary Kom in a way that drew adulations from one and all. The film did well enough commercially too, earning 1.04 billion in the box office.
4. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016): Ardent cricket fans might argue with the usage of the world ‘untold’ in the title but for millions of Indians the biopic on India’s two-time World Cup-winning captain MS Dhoni was a treat. With 133 crores, it is till date the highest-grossing sports biopic in India. Director Neeraj Pandey was praised for his direction and what shall we say about Sushant Singh Rajput? The movie gave Bollywood another young actor with a bright future. For the better part of the movie, Sushant and Dhoni were synonymous.
5. Sachin: A Billion Dreams (2017): Remember Sachin Tendulkar’s speech at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 16, 2013? If you do, chances are your heart might skip a beat even while reading this. Fans were treated the same emotional joyride when Sachin: A Billion Dreams – a docudrama on Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar’s life hit the theatres in 2017. Sachin Tendulkar playing self was the biggest USP of this movie directed by Emmy Award-nominated director James Erskine. The movie was a thali-meal for Sachin’s fans and even those who have little to do with him and cricket. It had some rare footage from Sachin’s collection and some common ones of Sachin’s greatest knocks. Above all, the film has heart and soul, with which almost every Indian connects with Sachin Tendulkar.