Sanju’ testifies the growing trend of biopics

Apurv Shukla

Auckland, June 21, 2018

The recently released Hindi film Sanju follows a growing trend in Bollywood of making biopics on famous people.

Ranbir Kapoor plays the titular role in the Rajkumar Hirani directed film based on the life of actor Sanjay Dutt.

It is for the first time though that a film has been released on the life of a current actor in the industry. The film focuses more on the human story of the person behind the macho actor Sanjay Dutt.

Chasing new ideas

Filmmakers are always looking for new stories and ideas to engage and entertain the audiences. Biopics can be an attractive proposition if the material is presented in an interesting and more importantly neutral manner.

Sports with all their highs and lows carry stories which can be interestingly translated on screen.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

One of the best biopic on Indian athletes was the 2013 Rakesh Mehra directed Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Farhan Akhtar played the titular role of the track and field sprinter from Punjab, Milkha Singh. It narrated the multiple Asian Medal winner’s life and travails.

The film was a heart-warming tale of the triumph of hope over misery, and won both critical and commercial acclaim.

MS Dhoni biopic

The biopic on MS Dhoni was also well received as it was a well-researched and authentically presented portrayal of India’s World Cup winning captain.

Critics though were quick to point out that it did not delve into the murky issue of match fixing at the Indian Premier League (IPL) at all.

Mohammed Azharuddin

A classic case of a biopic gone wrong is Azhar. Emraan Hashmi played the role of cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin in the Ekta Kapoor produced film. The 99 test veteran scored three centuries in his first three tests against England.

Azhar was appointed India captain in 1989 and lead India in 3 World Cups.

Later he was accused and implicated in match fixing charges. But the film appeared to many as a futile case in point of portraying half-baked caricaturist characters, trying to glorify the cricketer and absolve him of any wrongdoings.


Neerja is another example of a well-made biopic. It struck a chord with the audiences as it brought to light a wonderful story of a brave and selfless woman.

Filmmakers have to strike a fine balance between ensuring biopics are not gimmicky but still engaging. Also any film is a commercial product and cannot come across as a documentary. The actor’s commitment to a role also reflects on screen and can add tremendous value to the enterprise. Remember the striking physical resemblance Ranbir Kapoor’s Sanju has to the real life Sanjay Dutt.

More biopics coming

Coming days will see a large number of biopics release. Former India Hockey Captain Sandeep Singh, martyred war hero Captain Vikram Batra and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sania Nehwal all are having films made on their lives.

Audiences are keen to watch the stories of well-known people on screen.

Bollywood has realised the real life stories of people make for a rich and layered reel interpretation. The onus lies on filmmakers to create a balanced product fairly representing all aspects of the person’s life, and respecting the audience’s sensibilities at the same time.

Apurv Shukla is a Sports and Entertainment Commentator for Indian Newslink.

(Poster of ‘Sanju’ from Wikipedia)

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