Last Updated : Nov 28, 2018 06:33 PM IST | Source:

Could filmmakers' obsession with biopics spell bad news for the film industry?

While biopics are enjoyed by the audience, they are taken with a pinch of salt by the critics. Bollywood, particularly, has been criticised for adding excessive melodrama.

Maryam Farooqui @farooqui_maryam

As biopics have become the new success formula, the obsession for it is increasing not just in Bollywood but the craze has now reached the south-Indian film industry. Filmmakers down south are weaving more such stories especially after the success of Mahanati, the film that captured the life of yesteryear actress Savitri.

The film had taken the box office by a storm not just in India, but in international markets as well. According to reports, Mahanati became the sixth highest grossing film in the US after collecting over $2.5 million. Worldwide, the film raked in Rs 75 crore in 50 days and the global distributors couldn’t be happier as the film got them 100 percent profit share.

Mahanati’s success has set the stage for other biopics coming from Tamil and Telugu film industry. The much-awaited NTR biopic will be made in two parts. NTR Kathanayakudu will release on January 9, next year, while NTR Mahanayakudu will release on January 24, 2020. Actor Nandamuri Balakrishna will be in the main lead and Vidya Balan will play the role of NTR’s wife. Actress Rakul Preet Singh will be Sridevi in the biopic. The film will also star Rana Daggubati who will essay the role of N Chandrababu Naidu, NTR's son-in-law.

Other upcoming films in this genre include a biopic on superstar Krishna who has more than 300 films to his credit. The project will be taken up by actor Sudheer Babu who will also work on the biopic of badminton player Pullela Gopichand. While the idea of a biopic on Gopichand came up a long time ago, it only saw the light of the day when Fox Star studios came on board.

Actor R Madhavan who recently delivered a hit film Vikram Vedha will be starring in the biopic of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan. The film will bring on the big screen the story of how Narayanan was arrested on false allegations of espionage in 1994, and how he came out clean four years later in 1998.

The list also includes films like Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, the Mammootty-starrer Yatra, and Kayamkulam Kochunni which are still at the production stage.

Reports also suggest that many filmmakers are interested in making a biopic on the life and times of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

A look back in history reveals that for the Telugu film industry, the biopic trend is not new. The industry has offered films like the 1985 venture Mayuri based on dancer Sudha Chandran; a biopic on athlete Ashwini in 1991 of the same name; the 1942 film Bhakta Potana based on the life of Potana, who translated Bhagavatham into Telugu language; and Yogi Vemana- a film based on the life of saint poet Vemana. There even was a satirical take on the life of NTR in the film Mandaladeesudu.

While biopics are enjoyed by the audience, they are taken with a pinch of salt by the critics. This is because biopics are considered as a dramatization of reality. Bollywood, particularly, has been criticised for adding excessive melodrama.

On the other hand, filmmakers say that biopics are the truth from the eyes of the director. Or, it is the director’s version of facts. So, it is at the discretion of the filmmaker to either go overboard with the story or play it subtle.

So, in the coming years, audiences will see a host of biopics hitting the theatres. But not just from the south. Bollywood is also all set to release films based on true events and carved around inspiring personalities.

These include Hrithik Roshan-starrer Super 30, based on the life of the mathematician Anand Kumar; and a biopic on cricketer Kapil Dev starring Ranveer Singh in the main lead. Amol Gupte will try his hand at making a biopic starring Shraddha Kapoor on the life of ace badminton player Saina Nehwal. Reports suggest that actor Sonu Sood is producing a film on PV Sindhu. The memorable 1983 cricket World Cup will come alive on the big screen in Kabir Khan’s directorial, which will release on April 10, 2020.

Viacom18 Motion Pictures have shown interest in telling the tale of Mithali Raj, captain of the Indian women’s cricket team.

Other such projects include a biopic on hockey player Dhyan Chand, legendary athlete PT Usha, shooter Abhinav Bindra and Paralympic gold medalist Murlikant Petkar. The list is endless.

Bollywood’s love for biopics is so much that more than 40 such films were churned out in the past decade alone.

The film industry, as a whole, seems to be in love with this genre. However, this obsession could spell bad news for the audience, who may find such films repetitive. Yet, filmmakers are of the opinion that it is the story that is the winning formula and not the genre.

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First Published on Nov 28, 2018 06:33 pm
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