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Biopics roaring all the way to the bank (Cinema Feature)
New Delhi, July 31 - Biopics seem to be the new way to hit the jackpot. While Bollywood filmmakers are making biopics on sports stars one after the other, directors in southern India are going the spiritual way. Hollywood is also recreating the lives of important personalities who have been in the public eye. Globally, filmmakers appear to be on a biopic making spree and the audiences seem to be lapping them up.
"Bhaag Milka Bhaag", a tribute to ace athelete Milkha Singh, has been declared a superhit by many, including trade analyst Taran Adarsh. "Paan Singh Tomar", "The Dirty Picture", "Bandit Queen" and "Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero" are some of the films based on the lives respectively of an ace athelete-turned-dacoit, an erotic actress, a dacoit and a freedom fighter, that were highly appreciated.
Rudrarup Dutta, Head of Marketing and Operations Viacom18, says that while recreating the life of an individual, filmmakers should not miss out on the entertainment element.
"The film should be entertaining and relevant. 'Bhaag...' is set in the 1950s and 60s, but has contemporary music. We didn't want it to be preachy," Dutta told IANS.
In addition to the Farhan Akhtar starrer, Viacom18 is ready to unfold story of boxing Olympic medallist M.C. Mary Kom.
"We are not chasing biopics, but yes we are open to it if the script is entertaining and true in spirit. Right now we are excited about the biopic on Mary Kom. Priyanka (Chopra) has put in a lot of effort," he said.
Irrespective of duration of the film, its pace should be correct. "Length doesn't matter as long as it keeps the audience involved," he added.
Director Rohit Jugraj is also set to reveal the life story of late wrestler-actor Dara Singh on the big screen.
While Bollywood is smitten by the country's sport stars, down south filmmakers are dedicating their work to spiritual figures.
J.K Bharavi, director of Telegu biographical-devotional "Sri Jagadguru Aadi Sankara", has also penned stories for biopics like "Annamayya" and "Sri Ramadasu".
"The Telugu industry has been following a trend of spiritual biopics, and the reason we see more of it here is because it has been tested and proved over the years. Moreover, audiences here connect very well with subjects with a touch of spiritualism. They feel privileged and blessed to watch such biopics," said Bharavi.
While "Annamayya" was a tribute to poet-singer Annamayya, who devoted his life to the service of Lord Balaji, "Sri Ramadasu" was the story of Lord Rama's devotee Ramadasu.
Bengali filmmaker Raj Chakraborty's film "Proloy", dedicated to West Bengal's slain anti-rape crusader Barun Biswas, is set for an August release. It will recreate Biswas' crusade against attacks on women.
Hollywood is also working on a string of biopics. Actor Ashton Kutcher is set to play late tech wizard Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic "JOBS".
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", the biopic on anti-apartheid icon and ailing former South African president Nelson Mandela, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.
While Bollywood had a hit film on the life of erotic actress Silk Smitha, Hollywood recently made "Lovelace" based on the life of porn star Linda Lovelace.
As much as filmmakers are keen on making films based on inspirational people, actors are also eager to appear in such movies.
Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh recently said that he is looking forward to doing a biopic. He thinks it would be very exciting to transform into a person who has lived a full life.
Farhan Akhtar, who essayed the role of Milkha Singh in "Bhaag...", finds such films inspirational and hopes filmmakers make many more.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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