If the 80s and 90s primarily focused on the trials and tribulations of a couple in love, the titles ranging from Love Love Love to Maine Pyar Kiya, the early 2000s were all about modern, hip couples, with films that lay emphasis on loving families, action-dramas, and war stories.
Lately though, there’s been a surge in biopics. In 2016, there were eight biopics released, out of which Neerja won a National Award. Omung Kumar’s Sarbjit, Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni-The Untold Story and Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal, which also performed well in China, were some of the other successful biopics from last year. But the eight biopics do not include the numerous films that were inspired by true events such as Airlift and Rustom.
Eight months into 2017, Bollywood has already planned biopics for this year, and the next. Soon to release in September this year are Daddy and Haseena Parkar.
Arjun Rampal’s upcoming Hindi film, Daddy, sees him play a Godfather-esque don. Based on a true story, Rampal plays Mumbai-based politician and former gangster, Arun Gawli. Set in ’80s Mumbai, Daddy is a crime-thriller that will focus on the Mumbai underworld and Gawli’s stint as a don in Mumbai’s Dagdi Chawl. Gawli and his brother Kishor entered the underworld in the 1970s when they joined the “Byculla Company”, a criminal gang led by Rama Naik and Babu Reshim, operating in central Mumbai areas of Byculla, Parel and Saat Rasta.
In 1988, after Rama Naik was killed in a police encounter, Gawli took over the gang and began operating it from his residence. This also led to a massive war between Dawood’s D-Company gang and Gawli’s gang that lasted from 1988 until the mid 1990s.
Arjun Rampal, in a recent interview, clarified that the film “is not an image-building exercise and steers clear of glorifying anything that is undesirable”. There will be more to the Hindi film as it shifts from one perspective to another, with the story spanning forty years. Directed by Ashim Ahluwalia, Daddy is set to release on September 8.
Shraddha Kapoor plays Mumbai’s most dreaded don, Dawood Ibrahim’s sister Haseena Parkar, with the film focusing on how she carried on with his legacy after he fled the country. Directed by Apoorva Lakhia, Shraddha’s brother Siddhanth Kapoor will be essaying the role of Dawood Ibrahim onscreen.
When Haseena’s husband was shot dead, Dawood retaliated by killing the murderers of his brother-in-law at the famous JJ Hospital shootout. Soon after, Haseena shifted to her new den, the Gordon Hall Apartments in Nagpada, from where she headed the crime syndicate. Parkar died of a cardiac arrest in July 2014.
Shraddha as Haseena Parkar has a lot of convincing to do considering she is known for her wooden acting. The film is slated to release on September 22.
The film, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is being billed as a period drama starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapor and Aditi Rao Hydari. There has been a lot of controversy around the film, with the sets of the movie vandalised by the Rajasthan-based outfit Karni Sena in January while the team was shooting in Jaipur, and again in March in Kolhapur. The director was even assaulted on sets, with Karni Sena opposing the portrayal of their Chittor-based Rani.
The earliest source to mention Rani Padmini is Padmavat, an epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE. It talks about Padmavati’s beauty, and how the Rajput ruler of Chittor, Ratan Sen, married her. Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi also heard about her beauty, and attacked Chittor to obtain her. Other versions of history describe Rani Padmini as a Hindu Rajput queen, who defended her honour against a Muslim invader.
Padmavati is scheduled to release in November.
The Sanjay Dutt biopic
Written and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the untitled Sanjay Dutt biopic has 34-year-old Ranbir Kapoor play the actor. The film sees Paresh Rawal play Dutt’s father Sunil and Manisha Koirala as his mother Nargis. Dia Mirza plays Dutt’s wife Manyata, while Karishma Tanna plays Madhuri Dixit.
Sanjay Dutt has had a colourful past outside his career. He made his acting debut in 1981 and has since appeared in more than 100 Hindi films. Dutt was arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act in April 1993. Charges of terrorism were dropped, but he was convicted of illegal possession of weapons. After serving his sentence with good behaviour and conduct, he was released on February 25, 2016.
His personal life has also made headlines, after his first wife Richa Sharma died of a brain tumour in 1996. He then married model Rhea Pillai, but that ended in a divorce. He was also rumoured to have had an affair with actress Madhuri Dixit, with whom he starred in a number of films back in the 90s.
The film is looking to portray all these incidents from his life, and is expected to release in March next year.
Eight years after her award-winning film Firaaq, Nandita Das returns to direction with her next, Manto, the biopic of Partition writer Saadat Hasan Manto. Played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the film will follow the most interesting seven years in the life of Manto (from 1946 to 1952) and that of the two cities he inhabits during those years – Lahore and Mumbai.
The film will also focus on his non-fictional work and personal life. The controversial writer wrote many short stories and poems based on the India-Pakistan partition, and was even tried six times for the high sexual content in his stories. Depressed after the Partition and deported to Pakistan, the writer took to alcohol and died at the age of 42. Some of his short stories include Toba Tek Singh, Cold Meat, Dog of Titwal, Odour, and Open It.
Rasika Dugal of Qissa (2015) fame will be playing Manto’s wife, Safiyah. The feature film’s release date is yet to be announced.
Saina Nehwal biopic
Actress Shraddha Kapoor will play badminton champion Saina Nehwal in the biopic directed by Amole Gupte. The actress admitted that this film was her most “difficult” one till date. The film will chronicle the story of Saina’s rise to become India’s first winner of an Olympic badminton medal, a bronze in London five years ago.
Director Amole Gupte emphasised that the biopic “will be different from several other biopics” because of its central figure. “How many times have we encountered either a male or a female Indian get prime ranking in a world sport? … This is the story of a ‘tigress beti‘, ‘princess beti‘ who set the badminton court on fire with her prowess,” Gupte said.
The film is slated to hit the screens sometime next year.
PV Sindhu biopic
Sonu Sood will begin producing a biopic on Olympic silver medalist and national badminton champion, PV Sindhu. Sonu Sood recently went on a reccee for the project, and has shortlisted Dubai as one of his shooting locations. He may also shoot the film in China and Korea.
PV Sindhu, who is currently ranked number 3 in the world in badminton, became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal last year at the Rio Summer Olympics, besting her own previous record of a bronze medal.
Sindhu is likely to have a cameo in the biopic. Reports suggest that Deepika Padukone might play the sportswoman, since she plays badminton herself and is the daughter of Indian badminton champion Prakash Padukone.
Kangana Ranaut will be playing Rani Lakshmi Bai – the queen of Jhansi in the biopic directed by Krish. The film was officially launched in May at Varanasi, after they erected a 20-foot poster of Ranaut and performed the Ganga aarti.
The film will have Ranaut duel and wield the sword like the warrior princess. She was also recently injured on the sets of the film while performing stunts.
Lakshmi Bai was the queen of the princely state of Jhansi, currently called Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh, India. She was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj for Indian nationalists. Known for her bravery, she died valiantly in Gwalior at the age of 29.
A biographical comedy drama starring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte, Padman is based on the life of Coimbatore-based social entrepreneur, Arunachalam Muruganantham. He is the inventor of a low-cost sanitary pad making machine and has been generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India. His mini-machines, which can manufacture sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads, have been installed in 23 of the 29 states of India.
TIME magazine placed him in its list of 100 Most Influential People in the World, and in 2016, he won the Padma Shri Award.
Directed by R Balki, the film is scheduled to release in April next year.
Boman Irani has been roped in to play the role of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi in a film titled Jhalki. The film tells the NGO worker’s story through the tale of a little girl who goes looking for her missing brother, while working as a child labourer.
Child labour activist Kailash Satyarthi was felicitated with the prestigious award in the year 2014, along with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. He is also a child’s rights and education advocate who had founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan in 1980, and worked towards protecting the rights of more than 83,000 children from 144 countries. The film Jhalki is reportedly being directed by the National Award-winning filmmaker Brahmanand Singh.
- Mahanathi, Tamil-Telugu biopic on late actress Savithri, starring Keerthy Suresh as Savithri and Dulquer Salmaan as Gemini Ganesan.
- Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma’s biopic starring Aamir Khan.
- Biopic on MGR, starring Sathyaraj.
- Abhinav Bindra biopic, produced by Anil Kapoor.