Are we going overboard with biopics?

T. P. Aggarwal
Publisher/MANAGING Editor
It is raining biopics in the industry and how. Almost every second producer I meet these days tells me that he is in search of a historical, legendary or famous personality from a chosen area of work, who can qualify for the subject of a biopic. That sounds interesting. Biopics are meant to be inspirational and dramatic tales of successful people who struggled against odds, braved challenges, ventured out of their mediocrity and went on to set a precedent for others with their success stories. The coming few weeks will witness a stream of biopics releasing one after the other starting with this week’s Azhar based on former Indian cricket captain, Azharuddin, followed by Sarbjit, based on the touching story of an Indian farmer who was convicted of terrorism and spying in Pakistan and was later sentenced to death. The film is helmed by Omung Kumar, who proved a point with his previous biopic on Mary Kom with Priyanka Chopra. There is another cricketing biopic on the anvil based on the life of former test captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni titled, Dhoni: The Untold Story. I am told that it is scheduled for release in the second half of the year. Right now there is a flood of sports biopics in the market, besides a few other biopics on other celebrated names too.
The two big biopics that are however being talked about are the ones with the two Khans. Imagine both of them are practically wrestling to prove their might at the box-office. While the Salman Khan starrer, Sultan, is based on real life wrestler Kesari Sultan from Haryana and scheduled for an Eid release, the Aamir Khan starrer, Dangal, draws inspiration from the life story of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, also from Haryana. Both Salman and Aamir have trained extensively in wrestling to get into the skin of their characters. Similarly Emraan Hashmi had cricket sessions with Azharuddin to get his mannerisms, his style of batting and his gait, right. The same goes with Sushant Singh Rajput and Mahendra Singh Dhoni but the bigger questions are about the choice of personalities, how far the audiences will be impressed by these real life stories and whether these stories will indeed provide the intrigue, drama and the emotions that go with a film. There is also a school of thought whether grey characters sometimes with their murky pasts, can prove to be the right choice for biopics. For instance, Azhar is considered to India’s first grey biopic, which looks into every aspect of Azharuddin’s life-good and bad. I am simply at a loss to know how far these films will get the desired box-office response at the box-office and whether they will be really worth all the effort. After all, a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, which glorified the life of athletics legend, Milkha Singh, does not get made every day. The film proved to be a major inspiration for millions of sports enthusiasts and portrayed the kind of hard work that goes into becoming a legend. I have my own reservations about the fate of some of these biopics and whether they would indeed succeed in glorifying their protagonists in the eyes of the audiences, provided the audiences are sufficiently interested in viewing these films. It could be that Salman or Aamir with their own charisma could make the characters of the two wrestlers more dramatic on screen but are our viewers ready for all these life-stories?


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