THE REAL SCREEN TEST
As Shah Rukh Khan readies for astronaut Rakesh Sharma’s biopic, we take a look at how several top Bollywood stars have bigticket biopics lined up, and what the trade world expects from these ventures
Traditionally, Bollywood has always been high on genres such as family drama, action and romance. But now, Bollywood biggies seem to be gung-ho about the ‘real’ factor. How else would you explain Akshay Kumar playing Havildar Ishar Singh (he led the Battle of Saragarhi of 1897 in which an army of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Afghans) in Kesari, or Hrithik Roshan bringing Bihar-based mathematician, Anand Kumar, on the big screen in Super 30?
GET, SET, GO
That’s not all. Shah Rukh Khan is set to play Indian astronaut, Rakesh Sharma, in Saare Jahaan Se Achcha. Ajay Devgn is busy shooting for Taanaji - The Unsung Warrior, where the actor plays Subedar Taanaji Malusare, a military leader in the army of Shivaji and also the founder of the Maratha Empire in 17th century India. Shahid Kapoor will soon start work on a biopic of the Asian Games gold- medallist boxer, NG Dingko Singh. And if all goes well, Aamir Khan could soon portray spiritual leader Osho.
Experts feel that stories of ‘real’ heroes will always be “more inspiring” than fictional tales. “If we look at our history and culture, we have innumerable heroes/icons. Since they are a part of our heritage, we can easily relate to such stories. So, I may have heard or read about Rakesh Sharma in school, but it will be a different high altogether to watch his story in the audiovisual format. The relatability factor will always be high vis-àvis such tales,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi.
READY FOR CHALLENGE
Actors, on their part, are rather “enthused” about portraying such “challenging” roles. Sources close to SRK inform that the actor, who is “looking forward” to playing Rakesh Sharma, “didn’t want to rush” into it without enough prep.
“SRK is excited to portray an icon, about whom he has heard since he was a kid. So, even though makers wanted to start shooting this year itself, he asked them to wait till February, in order to be in complete sync with the part,” says an insider.
Shahid, who admits that the biopic on Dingko will “require a lot of prep”, feels that boxing hasn’t been “represented well on the Indian screen yet”. He recently told us, “There have been attempts that were good, but it’s important to get the sport right. I hope I can spend enough time (preparing) because it takes a lifetime to become a boxer.”
Aamir confirms that Kapoor & Sons (2016) director Shakun Batra has discussed the Osho project with him. “I am waiting to hear the script. It all depends on how the script turns out,” says the actor.
So, the big question is: as a number of big Bollywood stars get set for biopics, is it great news for the Indian box office? “What’s best about such films is that they don’t just entertain but also enlighten you. Also, when such big stars come on board, it helps you in multiple ways — firstly, you are assured of an extremely wide reach.
Secondly, a certain standard of storyline and production value is guaranteed,” says Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
(Clockwise from top) Shahid Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Aamir Khan, and Hrithik Roshan