India released a number of "based on a true story" films in 2016.
While these biographical dramas were tightened up and given a Bollywood treatment, the narratives focused on people at their best and worst through real-world experiences. They also highlight events and stories that haven't received as much attention in the west.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are 5 films based on real-life people and incidents to add to your viewing list.
Release date: 22 January 2016
Directed by: Raja Krishna Menon
Music by: Amaal Mallik, Ankit Tiwari; Background score: Arijit Dutta
Producers: Nikhil Advani, Monisha Adwani, Aruna Bhatia, Madhu G. Bhojwani, Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Vikram Malhotra
Description: This drama depicts events surrounding the 1990 airlift of 170,000 Indians from Kuwait after the invasion of Iraq leading up to the Persian Gulf War. The Guinness Book of World Records identifies this event as the largest civilian airlift in history. The fictional character Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is based in part on Indian businessman "Toyota Sunny" Mathunny Mathews, the former managing director of the Toyota agency owned by the Al-Sayer Group.
Why I Love This Film: This intense, moving, and memorable tale presents a personal story on a grand scale.
- AIRLIFT: An Intense Saga of Resilience and Responsibility
- AIRLIFT Teaser Promises a Powerful and Inspiring Story
Release date: February 19, 2016
Directed by: Ram Madhvani
Music by: Vishal Khurana
Producers: Atul Kasbekar, Shanti Sivaram Maini, Bling Unplugged, Fox Star Studios
Description: When terrorists from the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal Organization attempt to hijack Pan Am Flight 73 on September 5, 1986, head purser Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) manages to warn the pilots, thus grounding the plane in Karachi, Pakistan. During the subsequent hours, Neerja oversees the remaining crew's efforts to respond to the needs of the passengers and the demands of the hijackers, thus saving hundreds of lives during the standoff.
Why I Love This Film: The film immerses you in the drama and emotions of a hijacking gone wrong. Despite the demonstrated threats posed by the terrorists, Neerja takes command of the situation where she can and continues to serve and protect because she must.
Release date: While the film premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in October 2015, it wasn't released in India until 26 February 2016.
Directed by: Hansal Mehta
Music by: Karan Kulkarni
Producers: Sunil Lulla, Shailesh R. Singh
Description: At Aligarh Muslim University, esteemed and award-winning professor Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras (Manoj Bajpayee) is fired from his position of Reader and Chair of Modern Indian Languages due to his sexual orientation. Journalist Deepu Sebastian (Rajkummar Rao) befriends the kind-hearted and honorable Dr. Siras to learn the truth of the case and help the professor seek justice.
Why I Love This Film: Dr. Siras is portrayed as a caring, intelligent and thoughtful individual who continues to see the good in people despite his mistreatment by the university he so passionately supports. While the film is slow-paced, Manoj Bajpayee manages to hold your attention - even in the quiet moments of contemplation.
4. M.S. Dhoni : The Untold Story
Release date: 30 September 2016
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Music by: Amaal Mallik, Rochak Kohli; Score: Sanjoy Chowdhury
Producers: Arun Pandey, Fox Star Studios
Description: Coaches, mentors and friends inspire young M.S. Dhoni (Sushant Singh Rajput) to become a master cricketer and captain of Team India.
Why I Love This Film: M.S. Dhoni is a sports celebrity in India on par with Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Yuvraj Singh. However, as you learn from this narrative, he is somewhat of a quiet loner who prefers to stay out of the limelight. This film offers a character study and back story of a major Indian cricketer while he is still in his prime.
English translation: "Wrestling Competition"
Release date: 21 December 2016
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Music by: Pritam | Lyrics by: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Producers: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Siddharth Roy Kapur
Description: Former national champion wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) trains young daughters Geeta and Babita to follow in his footsteps and become world-class grapplers.
Why I Love This Film: Besides learning about the sport of wrestling - a popular sport in India - the film offers an interesting story of how a father connects with his daughters by training them to achieve his dream to win a gold medal for India. This, in turn, empowers the girls and presents them with opportunities they would never have had otherwise.
The following playlist features the trailers for each of these films.
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