link in bio(pics)

Deconstructing the recent trend of dramatizing historic occurrences and people in Bollywood

As an ardent follower of movies for decades (2 to be exact), it seems that Bollywood, much like any industry, has very specific themes that every director/ production house explores through their own lens and adds their own spice before serving it out to the masses. 

After a long wave of the pandemic and general slump in everything, people fall back on what feels familiar, comfortable and nostalgic. This is true for all forms of art – we see a sudden cultural revival with a newfound love for all things vintage and all things thrifted – we have truly come a full circle. It only seems fitting for the emergence of biopic films left, right and center. Let’s have a look at some insights.

From the raunchy item numbers of 90s which had the most respectable women of the industry do some pretty aggressive thumkas to showcasing stories around the struggle of women (powered by the #MeToo movement) and society’s blatant ignorance of rape and sexual violence in the early 2000s to women led movies that made 2010s the most women empowering decade of recent Bollywood times to now 2020s where it all seems to be about history and forgotten culture – Bollywood has seen itself meander to say the least around what is the romance of the season.

With Bollywood and OTTs in constant and consistent battle for our attention, Bollywood has found itself in a position to invest in what works for sure. Having reliance on stories about characters that audiences might already be invested in gives it a sure-shot advantage. You use people’s lives as source material and are almost certain that many people already have some kind of vested interest in that story and they will most likely come and watch. We live in a world where big is no longer better and a genuine effort is almost always appreciated – Bollywood is reaching the point where the big players have internalized this and biopics are a wonderful opportunity where they already have a great story, all they need to do is work towards presenting it in a cinematically captivating way. 

Post the onset of the 2020s, movie after movie, release after release, we saw history, art, culture and some pretty well known figures come to life on the big screen, some left us screaming for more – others begged us to leave history behind. Let’s see some examples at length. 


year: 2023

director: Meghna Gulzar

production house: RSVP Movies (Ronnie Screwvala)

An aulatory to India’s beloved and OG soldier, this movie was a great balance of flavors. It was a war movie, but wasn’t all war, it was an emotional movie, but wasn’t all emotion. It also had the pedistail handed over to the less known efforts and exploits of India’s war general, Sam Manekshaw. I will have to admit, after years of school and a decent interest in reading history outside of the school books, I had never heard of him before this movie. It was refreshing to see his life and perspective come alive in a well researched storyline and vividly impactful acting by Vicky Kaushal – and a solid attempt at portraying the complexity of the relationship between military and politics. All-in-all, a fun watch while also serving as a memory hook for the unsung heroes of India.


year: 2023

director: Tinu Suresh Desai

production house: Pooja Entertainment

Jaswant Singh Gill’s (Additional Chief Mining Engineer at Coal India) compelling and thrilling biopic follows the rescue of 70 miners trapped in the flooded bowels of Mahabir Colliery in Raniganj, West Bengal, in 1989. While Akshay Kumar delivers an original performance, those with him were not able to deliver the way they should have. The ordeal of the miners stuck in the depth of the mines was also not given their due importance and that’s why the film lacked a certain depth.
When all theories and logical thinking goes out the window, Gill saves the day with out-of-the-box jugadu thinking. With jugaad being one of the main characters of the film alongside Akshay Kumar and literally no one else coming close, we were left at the brink of satiation while watching a rather linear story that could have been a captivating watch.

Twelfth fail:

year: 2023

director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

production house: Vidhu Vinod Chopra Films

Everyone loves an underdog win. And this story gave an inspired dose of serotonin that lasted quite a bit. Aspirational, motivational and exceptional, this film quite literally zoomed into a life of struggle, hardships, hard work and accomplishment. Vikrant Massey as the idolist Manoj Kumar Sharma never seemed once out of character and the supporting cast did an outstanding job in bringing his tale to life.
The simple story of how hardwork and dedication made miracles happen for one Manoj Kumar, coupled by close encounters with politics, corruption and caste system that seem to be so deep rooted till date that its hard to see more Manoj Kumars even if they are out there, gives us a little something to celebrate and lament at the same time.


year: 2024

director: Ravi Jhadav

production house: Bhanushali Studios Limited and Legend Studios

In a personal humble opinion, this film failed on multiple facets, despite Pankaj Tripathi’s inspired performance. Glib writing, unimaginative sound and production design and lack of a genuine insight of the self-proclaimed ‘bachelor, not a celibate’ left us perturbed. The film didn’t answer the unanswered questions that everyone was thinking – Why Mr. Vajpayee behaved the way he did when he found himself in conflict as a librasist in a conservative party. The film was also very selective about the chapters in his life. His foreign visits played a huge role in shaping his thoughts towards his public and private life – none of which was seen in the film.

The lack of dimension, unfortunately, took center stage rather than the character himself and left us parched after consuming only what looked like water. 


year: 2024

director: Amit Sharma

production house: Zee Studios Fresh Lime Films

A Bollywood film about football and not cricket is like a breath of fresh air. The film follows the life of one Syed Abdul Rahim, an esteemed football coach and how his life ‘plays’ out. What’s great about this film is that it decided to go on a theme that hasn’t been done before and put a muslim character center stage, along with his struggles and his victories – and that too quite nicely. Again, Syed Abdul was someone I had heard of only fleetingly, so it also did a good job in telling his story to the non-sports enthusiasts much like myself. Ajay Devgan gave us a compelling performance in the persona of an Indian Sports Icon and all of the supporting cast also did a good job in delivering a spiteful and engaging performance.

On the down-side, this film was much longer than it needed to be. We would have also loved some background of the rest of the players. Maybe the film spent too much time elaborating what was not required. Instead, it could have been given more depth by also giving us a little insight into those that made the enthusiastic team – played by mostly fresh faces.


year: 2024

director: Imtiaz Ali

production house: Window Seat Films, Select Media Holdings, LLP Saregama

Amazing, just the right amount of raunchy, unconventional, beautiful, ugly, funny, dark and just downright excellent. There’s just no other way to describe this what I thought was a masterpiece. Imtiaz Ali did a biopic like no one else – as we all expected him to, but then exceeded expectations with a certain spicy flavor that comes with only the kind of vision he would have.

Diljeet Dosanjh and Parinita Chopra grace our screen with nothing less than a sincere performance that left us wanting more. The story was extremely well executed, and dare I say, the best biopic film of recent times. 

It has been enriching to see forgotten tales come alive, and while some efforts were better than others, they were all stories that truly need to be heard and felt. Biopics keep generations grounded, our very first ones being stories by our grandparents on cozy evenings. We hope you found something to look forward to watching soon and share your thoughts on, much like this little tet-a-tet. In our prediction, we might see a few more biopic films in the coming time – this theme is here to stay for a bit. Who’s story would you like to see come to the big screen? Tell us, we’d love to know.



fin. period. kham. the end. full stop. iota. bas. kham. fin. period. kham. the end. full stop. iota. bas. kham.
  fin. period. kham. the end. full stop. iota. bas. kham. fin. period. kham. the end. full stop. iota. bas. kham.