It’s The Season Of Biopics In The Film Industry

The slew of biopics produced and released in the recent past proves that cinema is indeed inspired by real life. Both living and dead personalities have been portrayed on the silver screen with a fair amount of success.

The Accidental Prime Minister’ on Dr Manmohan Singh and ‘Thackeray’ based on Bal Thackeray’s life hit the cinemas recently. There is news that there will be one on Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi too.

Close on the heels of Bollywood is Ollywood. Odisha got its first biopic in 2017 Tulasi Apa. It was based on the life and struggles of tribal activist of Keonjhar Tulasi Munda. An illiterate who used to work in mines as a labourer, she embarked on a mission to educate tribal children an opened an evening school in 1964. She used to sell mudhi and vegetables to gather funds to run it. At present, her schools provide education to students up to Class X.

Directed by late Amiya Ranjan Patnaik, the film won rave reviews in many international festivals.

Another much-awaited biopic is on hockey legend Dilip Tirkey, to be played by Ollywood superstar Anubhav Mohanty. The film was to have been released ahead of the Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup but got delayed as the actor injured his leg on the sets of another film.

There was a flutter when a poster of actor Anubhav Mohanty with Biju Patnaik in the background was released. It left people guessing whether the movie ‘Biju Babu’ was a biopic on the former chief minister.

While the mystery continued, presenter-cum-producer Dr Nila Madhab Panda at the digital poster release of the movies said, “In this movie, we’ve tried to capture the essence of everything he stood for and fought for, all for the sake of us Odia people. The film will be released close to Utkal Divas, on March 29.”

Biopics were not always an attractive genre for Bollywood even less than a decade ago, when Paan Singh Tomar was released in 2012, says an article in Daily Pioneer. There were earlier efforts, like The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002) and Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005).
In contrast, biopics remain big in Hollywood. The Academy Award for best female actor went to Reese Witherspoon in 2006 for her portrayal of June Carter in Walk the Line and to Helen Mirren in 2007 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen.

In Bollywood, till a few years ago, even if movies were based on an individual’s life, they would be released as drama. Mani Ratnam’s Guru (2007) was loosely based on the life of business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani, but it was never promoted as one.

But in recent years there have been a few movies based on real-life stories of sportspersons, actors, politicians and more. There was Shahid (2013) based on the life of the late Shahid Azmi, a lawyer known for defending persons accused of terrorism; Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013); Mary Kom (2014); Manjhi – The Mountain Man (2015); Dangal (2016), on the Phogat sisters; M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016); Sachin: A Billion Dreams (2017) and Pad Man (2018) based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham.

Last year also saw the release of a biopic on Sanjay Dutt (Sanju) and Saadat Hasan Manto (Manto).

And now there are increasing number of biopics based on the lives of active politicians too.

My Name is RaGa, based on the life of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, is due for release in April, just in time for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Also, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently released the official film poster of an upcoming biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be directed by Omung Kumar of Mary Kom fame.

Be it for the sake of entertainment or for propaganda, biopics, it seems, are here to stay.

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