There’s something extremely inspiring about the way we respond to biopics. When the hero in question is an actual person who really lived at some point in time, it becomes easier to imagine that like them, we can succeed too. 2020 wasn’t exactly a promising year, but this one might be your chance to shine. Here’s a list of Bollywood biopics that we love, and we hope some of them may inspire you to do great things this year.
1. Pan Singh Tomar
Even though Pan Singh, a soldier in the Indian army, has proved to be a talented athlete, unusual circumstances force him to turn into a dacoit. Irrfan Khan as Pan Singh Tomar gives the performance of his lifetime.
Dangal is the essential Bollywood flick: it has drama, action, comedy – all packed in a neatly tied package. While the movie is about Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari who were India’s first female wrestlers to win gold at Commonwealth, their father takes the central role instead. Bollywood needs to let women tell their stories instead of relying on a male voice, but until it learns that lesson, Dangal is still an enjoyable watch.
3. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
The movie tells the story of MS Dhoni, one of the most famous cricketers in recent history. Because of his conservative background, the wildly talented sportsman is forced to take an ordinary job. He must overcome his family’s expectations to live the life he wishes for. Even though at over three hours long the movie can feel like a drag, the heartwarming real-life story behind it makes MS Dhoni: An Untold Story one of the best Bollywood biopics.
4. My Brother… Nikhil
Based on the life of Indian AIDS activist, Dominic D’Souza, whose life took a turn for the worse when he tested positive for HIV, My Brother… Nikhil makes for an emotional watch. Nikhil, the character based off of Dominic, is a talented swimmer whose family disowns him once he tests positive, and he is supported by his sister and his boyfriend before he develops AIDS.
5. Manjhi The Mountain Man
Dashrath Manjhi is devastated when his pregnant wife dies after trying to cross a mountain that all villagers must climb to access medical care. Frustrated, Manjhi decides to carve a road out of the mountain – all by himself. With Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the titular role and Radhika Apte playing his wife, this is one of the best Bollywood biopics and you cannot afford to miss it.
Based on the life of the flight attendant of the same name, Neerja provides an insight to the last moments of Neerja Bhanot’s life, who sacrificed her life trying to protect the travellers in a hijacked plane. Sonam Kapoor as Neerja gives a career-defining performance. Neerja isn’t just one of the must-watch Bollywood biopics out there, but also one of the best mainstream Bollywood movies from the last decade.
When a professor of Marathi in Aligarh Muslim University is suspended for having sexual relations with another man, he forms a special bond with a sympathetic journalist covering his story. Manoj Bajpai plays the role of Ramchandra Siras with depth and conviction, and Hansal Mehta does a brilliant job bringing this important story to life.
Loosely based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, Mani Ratnam’s Guru tells the Business tycoon’s story from rags through riches against the backdrop of AR Rahman’s beautiful musical score. Guru also happens to be one of Abhishek Bachchan’s finest performances as an actor.
9. Bandit Queen
After Phoolan Devi is subjected to sexual abuse and caste discrimination at the hands of various men in her life, she decides to exact revenge herself.
10. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Even though Farhan Akhtar has had a more memorable career behind the camera, his acting chops are no joke. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag follows the life of athlete Milkha Singh, who must overcome a multitude of obstacles to succeed.
11. Mary Kom
Despite her family’s disapproval, Mary Kom begins a career in boxing and has to overcome the many hindrances that come her way before ultimately achieving her lifelong dream.
12. The Dirty Picture
Loosely inspired by the life of South Indian actress Silk Smitha, the movie, with a stellar ensemble cast, follows the life of the actress from rags to riches and then to rags again.
13. Super 30
The film dramatizes the life of mathematician Anand Kumar from Bihar who decides to tutor IIT aspirants from underprivileged backgrounds. The movie was criticized for making Hrithik Roshan appear darker for his role, but political correctness aside, Roshan does a fairly good job in the movie.
Hansal Mehta has a talent for biopics. Real-life stories flawlessly fall into the scope of cinema with Mehta’s craftsmanship. Rajkummar Rao plays Shahid, a former militant, who after wrongful imprisonment decides to become a criminal lawyer and fight for those like him falsely convicted for terrorist activities.
15. Shakuntala Devi
Based on the life of “human-computer” Shakuntala Devi, the movie follows her story as she travels around the world, showcasing her genius as her personal life takes a backseat.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui stars in and as Manto, a film that explores the literary genius of the talented but mentally troubled writer. Manto is devastated when after the partition his family is forced to leave Bombay for Pakistan. With immaculate writing and flawless cinematography, Manto makes for one of the most unmissable Bollywood biopics.
With this list of movies, we hope that this year proves to be better than the last. Did we miss out any of your favourite Bollywood biopics? Comment below.