From reel to real

Why Indian cinema is gradually beginning to opt for reality over fiction

News Desk March 18, 2016
Mary Kom, Neerja and Airlift were all based on real-life stories. PHOTOS: FILE

Of late, Bollywood seems to have developed a penchant for real-life stories. The past two years have seen an influx of biopics, from Priyanka Chopra’s epic wrestling drama Mary Kom to the upcoming Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. And now, it seems like the Indian film industry is taking things up a notch by focusing on not just real-life stories but incidents as well, as indicated by

In this connection, there have been back-to-back movies revolving around true events in the theatres. And what’s more, they are performing better than even expected. First came Akshay Kumar’s Airlift, the success of which was mirror by the ensuing Sonam Kapoor-starrer Neerja. Even film-maker Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh — a film about a homosexual university professor — opened to great reviews. Talking about the sundry advantages of making films based on actual incidents, director of Airlift Raja Krishna Menon said, “Firstly, when you work on a real subject, the narrative style becomes very clean and structured. The construction of such stories is similar to the way we hear tales at home from our elders — with a clear starting point, midpoint and climax.” According to Menon, the storytelling therefore becomes “very identifiable”.

Over the last few years, projects like Special 26, Shahid and Baby have all been derived from real incidents. “Audiences have always lapped up quality subjects. So, as long as the stories are entertaining and engaging, people will like them,” said film trade analyst Amod Mehra. “Also, if a real incident has taken place in the recent past, the audience can identify with it strongly,” he added.

The frenzy is such that aside from film-makers, even actors have begun opting for such roles. “I find real stories extremely fascinating. You may have heard or read about real incidents or historical events, but watching them on the screen is something very different,” said Kumar. “For instance, if I were to show you on the screen how Shivaji (Maratha warrior) fought valiantly in various wars, you would be more interested,” the superstar said.

Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few more Bollywood films, based on real-life, in the pipeline which indicates that the trend is here to stay for some more time. Movies like Raman Raghav 2.0, the story of the deranged, real-life serial killer from the 60s, and Sarbjit which is based on Indian national Sarabjit Singh and his sister’s struggle for his release from Pakistan, will be out soon. “Our film-makers have started to get as excited about reality as fantasy,” said Raja. “It’s a great sign that our audiences don’t just want to see ‘leave-your-brain-at-home’ kind of cinema anymore.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2016.

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Alia Z. (Indian) | 5 years ago | Reply Absolutely love and so proud of the new Bollywood. Quality cinema is here to stay. Be it Queen, Haider, Masaan, Special 26, Baby, Tanu weds Manu, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, Filmistan, Airlift, Kapoor & Sons, Neerja.....the list goes on and on.... Proud Indian.
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