THE REAL SCREEN TEST

As Shah Rukh Khan read­ies to start work on In­dian as­tro­naut Rakesh Sharma’s biopic, we take a look at how sev­eral top stars have big­ticket biopics lined up, and what the trade world ex­pects from them

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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 par­tic­i­pated in 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, while 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 Asian Games gold-medal­list boxer, NG Dingko Singh. And if all goes well, Aamir Khan could soon por­tray spir­i­tual leader Osho.

Ex­perts feel 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 au­dio-vis­ual for­mat. The re­lata­bil­ity fac­tor will al­ways be high vis-à-vis 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. “SRK is ex­cited to por­tray an icon, who he has heard about 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 box­ing hasn’t been “rep­re­sented well on the In­dian screen yet.” He re­cently told us, “There have been at­tempts which 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.” In the lat­est in­stance, 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,” he says.

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 on in mul­ti­ple ways — firstly, you are as­sured of an ex­tremely wide reach. Se­condly, a cer­tain stan­dard of sto­ry­line and pro­duc­tion value is guar­an­teed,” says trade an­a­lyst Taran Adarsh.

PHO­TOS: PRODIP GUHA/HT, RAJESSH KASHYAP/HT, DABBOO RATNANI

(Clock­wise) Shahid Kapoor, Ak­shay Ku­mar,Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan

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