In the past, inspiring movies about sport stars such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Milkha Singh, and freedom fighters such as Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh have been made in Bollywood. Soon, cinemas will be taken over by biopics on women achievers, starting with Kangana Ranaut’s ‘Manikarnika - The Queen of Jhansi’ based on the warrior queen Lakshmibai.
Film and trade business analyst Girish Johar said ‘Manikarnika...’, in which Ranaut plays the title role, is currently trending in India.
“A popular face does help reach a wider audience because they have their own fans and fan clubs. They are well established and their craft is already recognised. Everyone knows that Kangana does different kinds of films,” Johar said.
So, he thinks ‘Manikarnika...’ will hit the jackpot at the box office when it releases.
Director Indrajit Lankesh is releasing a biopic about South Indian adult film star Shakeela.
“Finally, the film industry is opening up to women because maybe in the 1970s or 1980s, they thought that women were only for songs and dancing around the trees; but biopics getting made on women show that there are a lot of women achievers who can stand on their own and it’s great,” Lankesh said.
“I always thought that when Shakeela was dominating in the male-dominated industry in mid 1990s, it was very difficult; but today, the scenario is slowly changing. I can’t say that it’s completely changed, but I am proud and happy that there are a lot of biopics being made on women.”
Talking about his film, he said: “It is a story about an actress who has seen a life from rags to riches to rags. Her life itself is a very good learning path for any woman.”
His film will star actress Richa Chadha as Shakeela. But Chadha herself doesn’t see biopics about women as a trend.
“Reality is stranger than fiction. As long as there are interesting stories, these films will be made because women won’t stop achieving now,” she said.
For Chadha, it was Shakeela’s life “with all the trials and tribulations” that she found very dramatic.
“When I first heard it, I wondered how it hadn’t been adapted into a screenplay already. I am happy I got to act in this movie because I really grew a lot with it,” Chadha said.
Actress Deepika Padukone will also turn the story of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal into a movie.
“It’s a very important story and it’s a true-life incident, so hopefully good things will come out of it,” Padukone had earlier said.
Actress Shraddha Kapoor takes on the role of badminton player Saina Nehwal.
Even in South India, filmmakers are opening up to the idea of biopics about women. Last year’s ‘Mahanati’, a film about the rise of South Indian superstar Savitri, won the hearts of many, and people can’t stop praising actress Nithya Menen for her look in the new poster of the film ‘The Iron Lady’, based on late politician Jayalalithaa.
“The film on Jayalalithaa is very heavy. I was very impressed when the film’s director Priyadarshini came with the film to me. She was so focused. I told her that if we are doing a biopic, we should ensure complete justice to the character. She was going in the right direction and was extremely confident. I am really looking forward to doing that film. That will be interesting to explore as an artiste,” Menen said.
It’s not just established actresses who are excited about playing real-life characters.
‘Dhadak’ star Janhvi Kapoor has reportedly signed up for a biopic on Gunjan Saxena, an Indian Air Force combat pilot.
There were also reports that actress Jacqueline Fernandez will play Indian cyclist Deborah Herold in a film.