Sunday, April 22, 2018

Bollywood Biopics: Content-Driven or Business Driven?

Biographical films are films that portray the story of a historical person.Biographical films dramatize the life of a person and the scenes involve the real-life incidents from his/ her life. We have witnessed many Biopics of prominent historical figures like Bhagath Singh, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Vallabhai Patel, Subash Chandra Bose, Dr. BR Ambedkar, over the time in Bollywood.

And then there are the biopics of personalities that are practically unknown to common people like Padman, Manjhi: The Mountain Man, Aligarh, Sarabjit, Shahid, Neerja, etc. The trend has taken a new turn and we have been seeing Biopics of prominent personalities in Sports, Crime World, Politicians who are familiar to the audience, but their story is unknown to the lot. Reputable among these are Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, MS Dhoni: An Untold Story, Mary Kom, Dangal, Azhar, etc. You can Watch some of these latest movies online to know more about the lives of these people.

Famous Directors in Bollywood have been really trying hard to get the stories right and present them as realistically as possible. There are some films among these, which, in an attempt to bring the audience to the theatre, overdramatize certain situations and add some scenes that are completely non-sensical with zero references to the person’s life.

Priyanka Chopra’s Mary Kom was on the receiving end of many criticisms for its unrealistic take and over dramatization of certain scenes. The actor’s resemblance to the person which is one of the crucial factors in a biopic was ignored in this film which raised questions about Bollywood’s motives behind making Biopics.

On this note, we decided to glance over some of the top Bollywood hit Biopics and detail their significance in relevance to the art and business.

Movies on Sports Personnel

One of the most popular genres that is sure to make a deafening noise among the audience and will be able to cash out irrevocably is Sports Genre. We have witnessed the massive success of films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Mary Kom, Paan Singh Tomar, etc. While these, stand to be good concepts to cash out, there are some films in this genre that were not successful as expected. Among those are films like Sachin: A Billion Dreams, Budhia Singh, etc. which have been on the receiving end of awards.

While sports biopics are a great way of making the struggles of a sportsman/woman known to the world, the fictionalization of stories for commercial success like in movies like Mary Kom, Azhar, etc., is a terrible move from the directors and is demeaning to the art. Also, choosing successful, but still emerging individuals who have a long way to go like Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu, Abhinav Bindra, Mithali Raj shouts out business and exploitation more than reverence.

However, this is one side of the coin and on the other side of the coin lies some films that we can look forward to, films that are being made on legendary individuals like Dhyan Chand, Balbir Singh, etc., Murlikant Petkar, PT Usha, Kapil Dev, etc. We hope these are free of the despicable commercial moves and provide a better perspective on the lives of those revered individuals.

Biopics on Politicians, Criminals, and Celebrities

Hagiography comes to mind whenever we watch a biographical film about Freedom Fighters. Films about the highly revered men, great leaders deserve to be portrayed in a saintly way and films like Gandhi, Sardar, Bose: The Forgotten Hero, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, etc., does exactly that. An informative glimpse into the lives of these Great people have left us in awe and proved to be resourceful. Some of the upcoming films that carry a chance of falling into this category are Manikarnika (about Rani Laxmi Bai), Mahanati (about Actress Savitri), The Accidental Prime Minister (about Ex-PM Manmohan Singh), etc.

But Bollywood needs to keep the hagiography in check when making Films like Bandit Queen, depicting the life of Bandit turned Politician Phoolan Devi, Haseena Parkar, portraying the life of Dawood Ibrahim’s sister, etc. Though these films have made an impact and resonated with the audience for their bold approach and realism, the compulsion to portray the lead character as a protagonist affects the story and makes the storytelling biased.

And then there are films about Celebrities like Sanjay Dutt, Silk Smita, etc. Maybe Bollywood is exploiting the market or maybe it is true in its heart about making a Biopics. But looking at the lack of biopics about the legendary actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, etc., choosing an actor who had been convicted by Indian Law and an actress who made A rated films to make a biopic on, makes one question the motives of the directors.

Movies on Lesser known but Prominent individuals

Many people in the world make their mark in the history that often remains in the dark until it makes its way into the mind of a writer/ filmmaker. There are many such individuals whose greatness has been discovered and made known to the world by journalists, filmmakers, and other personnel. Falling into this category are the films like Manzhi: The Mountain Man, Padman, Shahid, Neerja, Aligarh, etc.

This type of films that depict the struggles faced by the individuals when they are fighting the system/ evil doers/ society/ ignorance take a tremendous effort without a guarantee of success. The roles in these films are challenging to the actors too. Actors are required to push themselves beyond their capabilities constantly to sync to the roles and present them in a sheer realistic way.

Films like these are made to inspire people and make them realize that they are stronger than they think they are and can do so by stepping up. Being the biggest industry in India and a prominent movie industry in the world, Bollywood bears a moral responsibility to do contribute in this area instead of looking for stories that can be commercial successes.

Upcoming Bollywood Biopics that might fall into this category are “Super 30” in which Hrithik Roshan is portraying the role of mathematician Anand Kumar the founder of Super 30, “Jhalki” in which Boman Irani will be portraying the role of Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and a film on Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma portrayed by Aamir Khan.

Bollywood has come a long way in making Biopics as realistic as possible, but it still has a long way to go. Bollywood must tone down its need to entertain a diverse class of audience and focus on taking the art to a higher level. The necessity for content-driven biopics is at its pinnacle since the industry is now competing on a global scale.