8 Bollywood biopics to look forward to

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Bollywood is racing against itself to bring true-life stories to the big screen. The past few years have seen a surge in biopics, the most popular category being sports, with films such as Paan Singh Tomar, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Mary Kom doing big business at the box office. There have been a few on freedom fighters, such as Gandhi, My Father and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero. Others, such as Asoka, Mangal Pandey: The Rising and Jodhaa Akbar, took on forgotten chapters of Indian history. And some recount the lives of criminals (Bandit Queen) and champions of humanity (No One Killed Jessica, Shahid and Manjhi – The Mountain Man).

Next up is Main Aur Charles (Charles and I), a biopic about Charles Sobhraj that is due out on Thursday October 29. Versatile actor Randeep Hooda, fresh from the success of last year's drama Highway, portrays the criminal, who is accused of a dozen murders and known for his Houdini-like talent for incredible prison escapes. Sobhraj is currently serving a life sentence in a prison in Nepal. Directed by Prawaal Raman, the dark drama looks into Sobhraj's life of crime through the eyes of an Indian police officer who worked on his cases for many years. Main Aur Charles, which also stars Richa Chadda (of Masaan fame) as a young woman in love with Sobhraj, is one of several biopics due to be released in the next few months. We look at the most promising of the crop.


Directed by Nitesh Tiwari

December 24

Last year, Haryana-based wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat featured on Aamir Khan's television show Satyamev Jayate and so inspired was Khan by the sportsman that he immediately set about making a biographical film on him. Phogat trained his daughters Geeta and Babita – against all gender biases – and the sisters shot to fame when they won gold medals in women's wrestling in 2010 and last year, respectively, at the Commonwealth Games. It was a major achievement for women hailing from rural India. As usual, Khan has worked hard to look the part, and gained 35 kilograms for the role – which he will have to lose in three months for the second schedule of the film.

M S Dhoni – The Untold Story

Directed by Neeraj Pandey

February 18

When a charming actor like Sushant Singh Rajput is called upon to play a charismatic cricketer like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the magic doubles. And, there’s John Abraham, too, an old friend of Dhoni’s, playing himself. Rajput has been spending a lot of time with the captain of the Indian cricket team these days to correctly emulate his style. He even recorded and uploaded his 45-day fitness regimen, titled #TillIGetItRight, on YouTube. Unfortuna­tely the videos fizzled after two episodes.


Directed by Tony D’Souza

May 12

Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin is taking keen interest in training Emraan Hashmi, the actor who is playing the lead role in the film. Azhar diligently followed the cast to London for their first shoot and then again worked with them in Hyderabad. The film’s teaser – “Ek khuda, do shaadi aur match-fixing (One God, two wives and match-­fixing) – pretty much sums up the story of the sportsman’s life. He was slapped with a ban in 2000 after allegations of involvement in match-fixing, and he made headlines in gossip magazines after divorcing his wife of many years for a Bollywood actress. Prachi Desai and Nargis Fakhri portray the two wives (Naureen and Sangeeta Bijlani, respectively) in this Ekta Kapoor co-production.

Biopic on Sarabjit Singh (Untitled)

Directed by Omung Kumar

May 19

Randeep Hooda portrays another real-life character, this time the Indian convict, Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Lahore prison following an attack by fellow inmates. Singh was a farmer who was jailed in Lahore for 22 years. His sister, Dalbir Kaur, battled for his acquittal for years, but he died before she could prove his innocence. Omung Kumar, who won a National Award for his biopic on boxing legend Mary Kom, directs this film with none other than Aishwarya Rai Bachchan playing Kaur.

Sanjay Dutt (Untitled)

Directed by Rajkumar Hirani

Release date: To be announced

Actor Sanjay Dutt persuaded his good friend Rajkumar Hirani to make a film on his life, and got his wish. Hirani, the director of PK and Dutt's famous Munnabhai franchise, is putting the final touches to the script. Ranbir Kapoor has been chosen for the lead role. Hirani calls it an honest film that will portray the real side of the actor – who is currently serving a five-year prison term for his involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993 – and will not glorify him in any way.

Narendra Modi (Untitled)

Directed by Rupesh Paul

Release date: To be announced

Paresh Rawal has put himself in a challenging role, portraying Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in this production. Though the script has received a nod from Modi, Rawal still thinks it will be a “massive responsibility” to portray “a leader of such great stature”.

Neerja Bhanot (Untitled)

Directed by Ram Madhvani

Release date: To be announced

This film – fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar’s first co-production – tells the story of a 22-year-old senior flight attendant who was killed by hijackers on board a Pan Am flight at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 5, 1986. Bhanot alerted the pilots, who managed to escape and thus the flight never got off the ground. She also threw open the emergency exits, allowing passengers to escape. Bhanot was the first woman to be given the Ashoka Chakra award – India’s highest award for bravery. Sonam Kapoor steps into Bhanot’s shoes and Shabana Azmi plays her mother.