In the recent past, inspirational stories of sport stars like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Milkha Singh, and freedom fighters such as Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh, have been told on the big screen. Soon, cinema halls will be taken over by biopics on female achievers as well, starting with Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi.
Eminent film and trade business analyst Girish Johar said Manikarnika, wherein Ranaut plays the title role, is currently trending around the world and has got a “good buzz” about it.
“A popular face does help reach a wider audience because they have their own fans and fan clubs. They are well established and their craft is already recognised. Everyone knows that Kangana does different kinds of films,” Johar explained. He thinks Manikarnika will hit the jackpot at the box office when it releases later this month.
Director Indrajit Lankesh is also coming out with a biopic on south Indian adult film star Shakeela. Talking about biopics made on influential women, he said, “Finally, the film industry is opening up to women because maybe in the 1970s or 1980s, they thought that women were only for songs and dancing around the trees. But biopics getting made on women show that there are a lot of women achievers who can stand on their own and it’s great.”
He added, “I always thought that when Shakeela was dominating in the male-dominated industry in mid 1990s, it was very difficult. But today, the scenario is slowly changing. I can’t say that it’s completely changed but I am proud and happy that there are a lot of biopics being made on women.” Of his film, Lankesh added, “It is a story about an actress who has had a journey from rags to riches to rags. Her life itself is a very good learning path for any woman.”
The biopic will star Gangs of Wasseypur actor Richa Chadha as Shakeela. But she herself doesn’t see biopics on women as a trend. “Reality is stranger than fiction. As long as there are interesting stories, these films will be made because women won’t stop achieving now,” she opined.
For Chadha, it was the story of Shakeela’s life “with all the trials and tribulations” that she found very dramatic. “When I first heard it, I wondered how it hadn’t been adapted into a screenplay already. I am happy I got to act in this film because I really grew a lot with it,” she said.
Deepika Padukone is also set to take the story of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal from real to reel. Of this, she has previously stated, “It’s a very important story and it’s a true-life incident, so hopefully good things will come out of it.” Then we have Shraddha Kapoor showing her sporty side by essaying the role of ace badminton player Saina Nehwal.
Even south Indian film-makers are opening up to the idea of biopics on women. If last year’s Mahanati, a film about the rise of female south Indian superstar Savitri, won the hearts of many, people can’t stop praising south Indian actor Nithya Menen for her look in the new poster of The Iron Lady, based on late politician Jayalalithaa.
It’s not just established female actors who are pumped up about playing real life characters. One-film-old Janhvi Kapoor has reportedly taken up a biopic on Gunjan Saxena, an Indian Air Force combat pilot. There were also reports that Jacqueline Fernandez will play ace Indian cyclist Deborah Herold in a film.
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