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Bollywood Biopics

May 20, 2009 10:28 IST

Bollywood Biopics

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Is Bollywood finally warming up to the idea of biopics?

We haven't really explored many biopics in Bollywood so far, sticking largely to the idea of historical icons when we think of period movies, and hiding other movies like Guru and Sarkar behind less controversial names while talking about real people.

Things are, however, looking to change. Ketan Mehta's Rang Rasiya, about the life and times of artist Raja Ravi Varma, is set to release, and three Kishore Kumar biopics are in the pipeline, even as directors contemplate a Guru Dutt movie.

Here, memorable for good reasons and bad, are ten Bollywood biopics:


Image: Nandana Sen and Randeep Hooda in a scene from Rang Rasiya

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Sardar

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Boasting of a bravura performance from Paresh Rawal in the lead role as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, this Ketan Mehta film remains compelling and fascinating as it explores the life and times of the wealthy industrialist who went on to become a crucial figure in the Indian freedom movement.


Image: Paresh Rawal in a scene from Sardar

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The Legend Of Bhagat Singh

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India's most celebrated freedom fighter has had many a film made about him -- a spree of them came out all at the same time a few years ago -- but this Raj Kumar Santoshi biopic was the pick of the bunch, starring Ajay Devgan as the titular legend. Stirring stuff.


Image: Ajay Devgan in a scene from The Legend Of Bhagat Singh

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Gandhi My Father

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Feroz Abbas Khan adapted his successful play Mahatma Vs Gandhi into this interesting, ambitious effort. This is Gandhi as seen through the eyes of his son, Harilal, and explores the Mahatma's personal side, and his family life. A truly intriguing concept, and even while the film doesn't quite pull it off, it does get us thinking.


Image: A scene from Gandhi My Father

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Mangal Pandey

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Ketan Mehta's film about the man who legendarily sparked off the revolt of 1857 is a pretty poor effort, falling prey to excess in terms of acting, music, random characters and a script that needed much cutting. But there's no denying the fact that Mangal Pandey was a spirited character who deserved a film -- even if he didn't quite deserve the Aamir Khan treatment.


Image: Aamir Khan in a scene from Mangal Pandey

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Bose: The Forgotten Hero

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Shyam Benegal's 'epic' take on Netaji Subhash Bose's life did well in giving Sachin Khedekar the perfect look as Bose, and AR Rahman crafted a pretty stunning soundtrack, but the film itself fell well short of expectations.


Image: A poster of Bose: The Forgotten Hero

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Asoka

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Santosh Sivan's visually lush retelling of the legend of Asoka might have featured a bunch of dances and a romance with Kareena Kapoor that would leave historians perplexed, but this badly-recieved movie did try to tell the tale of Asoka The Great (Shah Rukh Khan), and how witnessing brutality drove him to Buddhism.


Image: Shah Rukh Khan in a scene from Asoka

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Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

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Director Jabbar Patel knew his subject well, having already made a much-lauded documentary on Ambedkar's life, and this 2000 film featured a lovely ensemble cast, headlined by Mohan Gokhale as Gandhi and Mammootty in the lead role as Dr Ambedkar. A fine, underrated film.


Image: A scene from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

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Provoked: A True Story

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Jag Mundhra's film starring Aishwarya Rai is the story of Sikh woman Kiranjit Ahluwalia, and the ordeals of her marriage with Deepak Ahluwalia. The husband got increasinly abusive and alcoholic and kept tormenting her -- and the film is the story of her fighting a life sentence for having killed him.


Image: A scene from Provoked: A True Story

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Razia Sultan

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Kamal Amrohi's 1983 film features an all-star cast taking on the story ot Razia, Sultan Iltames' daughter. The emperor wants her to take on the throne, and there is a sexist outcry among the masses. The film stars Hema Malini as Razia, Pradeep Kumar as Khakun and Dharmendra as Razia's lover, Yakut Jamaluddin.


Image: A scene from Razia Sultan

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Meera

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Set in the times of Akbar The Great, Gulzar's 1979 film takes on the story of Meerabai but sets it in a historical realm as opposed to being a mythological tale. Allegories are drawn constantly and Gulzar's Meera is a tale of independence, feminism and inner strength.


Image: A poster of Meera

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