Are they meant to show the great or make the great? The recent biopic on Sanjay Dutt and trailer of web series on the life of Sunny Leone do pose that question.
Biopics aren’t new in Indian Cinema. Starring Ben Kingsley, Gandhi came as back as in 1982. Ketan Mehta came with his Paresh Rawal starrer Sardar, a biopic on Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel in 1993.
Next year Shekhar Kapur came with his widely acclaimed biopic on Phoolan Devi ‘The Bandit Queen’. But apart from being true stories, these films were also great works in cinema.
These films were made because their stories were worth telling. These stories were taken to celluloid because people behind them were heroes of real the life.
But now Bollywood has sworn to come up with the biopic of every second person. I am not saying that all of them are bad.Paan Singh Tomar, Bhag Milkha Bhaag, and Dangal are brilliantly made films on people with truly legendary feats.Films like Neerja, The Dirty Picture and Shahid are also good are surely deserve a onetime watch.
But a biopic on M.S Dhoni. Why? And then a sequel for it ? The player is just 37 years old, actively participating in his work. He already has all the attention he needs.
There are thousands of other great athletes who get camouflaged under the canopy of Cricket. An exceptional director like Neeraj Pandey could have easily made a film on their lives. Rather he chose to titillate the audience with Dhoni’s greatness.
Are the biopics on Dawood Ibrahim's sister, Manmohan Singh, Gulshan Kumar and Bal Thakrey really necessary?Or is it that our writers don't want to take the pain of telling original stories?
Furthermore, If the intention of the makers is not to show the true stories, the biopics come out to be made in poor taste.
A good example is the film Padman. The story of a man who revolutionized menstrual hygiene in the country could have been the basis for a well-made film. Rather the makers chose to deliver a poor commercialized adaption with all the fiction , melodrama and love angle making the film lazy and forgettable.
Did Padma Shri Arunachalam Muruganantham receive the same recognition as Milkha Singh and the Phogat sisters? Or did the issue gain much recognition? No, none of this happened.
This is because the makers never cared for what the story truly was. It was only chosen to make the base for a loud and proud mainstream feminist film, sure to make crores.
Another example is the film Soorma made on the life of Sandeep Singh. Singh, a national level hockey player gets accidentally shot and becomes paralyzed. He overcomes his misery to join the team again and become world’s fastest drag-flicker. Isn’t this story good enough?
But somehow the makers didn’t realize that and chose to add a lot of drama and fiction to the story. Ultimately what could have been a moving tale of hard work and conviction turned out to be a slog.
Biopics are meant to inspire the audience. They are meant to throw light on the lives of unsung heroes. But apparently, Indian filmmakers have found a different use of theirs- To whitewash the public image of shady and controversial characters.
First Mohammad Azharuddin, then Sanjay Dutt and now Sunny Leone. The sole purpose of Azhar was to tell the world that former Indian captain was framed and he deserves sympathy and a cleaner image.
Even if Sanjay Dutt is shown taking the onus of his drug problems and various affairs the larger picture is clearly meant to show him as the victim.
If your dad runs out of money, apparently the only solution to make a living is joining the adult film industry. That’s how the biopic series on Sunny Leone victimizes her.
The films in this genre are commendable for only as long as the makers show truly worthy stories.