In 2021, there was a renewed interest in the biographical films genre with the release of Jai Bhim, Shershaah, 83, and Sardar Udham. This allure continues as several other biopics are also gearing up for release. The Taapsee Pannu– starrer Shabaash Mithu will release on February 4, Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s Gangubai Kathiawadi is expected to hit the screens on February 18 while Major starring Adivi Sesh is all set to release on February 11 and Ajay Devgn‘s Maidaan is also expected to release this year.
Silverscreen India has picked 10 critically acclaimed biographical films about a variety of personalities to watch while we wait for this year’s biopics to hit the screens:
Based on the life of former US President Abraham Lincoln, this film is directed by Steven Speilberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the titular character. Set during the 19th century and particularly during the American Civil War, Lincoln focuses on the 16th US President’s challenges as he tries to abolish slavery. As the war rages on, he also finds himself trying to convince several people in the government about passing an amendment to ensure the same.
Known for its convincing performances and riveting storytelling, Lincoln is an engaging biographical drama that delves into one of the most defining moments in American history.
This Telugu-language drama is based on the trials and tribulations of late actor Savitri (Keerthy Suresh). Starting from her rise to stardom and her marriage to frequent costar Gemini Ganesan (Dulquer Salmaan), the film charts her successes and also delves into her struggles with alcoholism. Mahanati uses fictional characters such as a journalist (Samantha Ruth Prabhu) and a photographer (Vijay Devarakonda) to tell the real-life tragic story of a famous actor and to chronicle that era of South Indian cinema.
Mahanati marked the Telugu debut of Dulquer Salmaan and the film was simultaneously released in Tamil as Nadigaiyar Thilagam.
Starring Sonam Kapoor in the titular role, the movie follows air hostess Neerja Bhanot’s sacrificial act of saving the passengers on a flight from terrorists. In 1986, 22-year-old Neerja was working as a flight attendant on the Pan Am Flight 73 when terrorists hijacked the aircraft. In a bid to save the passengers, she continually risked her life. The film also shows glimpses of Neerja’s life including her relationship with her parents and the domestic abuse that she faced from her ex-husband.
Directed by Ram Madhvani, the film won the Best Feature Film in Hindi award at the 64th National Awards.
Jai Bhim (2021)
When a man Rajakannu (Manikandan K) from the Irular tribal community is arrested and goes missing, his pregnant wife Sengeni (Lijomol Jose) turns to a lawyer Chandru (Suriya), who vows to seek justice for the couple. He files a Habeas Corpus petition in court and tries to uncover the truth behind Rajakannu’s disappearance.
Based on a real-life case fought by retired High Court judge K Chandru, Jai Bhim is a courtroom drama that explores themes of casteism and custodial torture.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag chronicles the life of late athlete Milkha Singh who was famously dubbed as ‘the Flying Sikh’. Starting from his childhood where he becomes a victim of the India-Pakistan partition to winning big at the Asian Games and the Olympics, the movie sheds light on the struggles and victories of the ace runner.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Farhan Akhtar won a Filmfare award in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of Milkha Singh.
A five-year-old Indian boy named Saroo gets lost and is estranged from his family when an Australian couple decides to adopt him. 25 years later, Saroo (Dev Patel) sets out on a journey to India to find his biological parents and brother again.
Lion is based on an autobiographical novel A Long Way Home written by Saroo Brierley.
Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
Paan Singh Tomar (Irrfan Khan) is a medal-winning athlete whose sporting plans do not go according to plan. When his mother is murdered and the police do not take action, Tomar goes on to become a dreaded dacoit in the Chambal valley.
The film spends ample time depicting both Tomar’s sporting career and his subsequent life as a dacoit. Paan Singh Tomar was well-received upon its release and Irrfan Khan won the National Award for Best Actor.
The Theory of Everything (2015)
This biographical romantic drama focuses on the relationship between renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his first wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Chartering the course of Hawking’s life from a Cambridge student to his career and contributions to science, the movie depicts the pivotal role that Jane played in shaping these events.
The Theory of Everything was lauded for its authentic storytelling and received praise from Hawking himself. It was nominated for five Academy Awards with Redmayne winning an award in the Best Actor category.
The King’s Speech (2010)
Based on historical facts, this 2010 drama film directed by Tom Hooper stars Colin Firth as King George VI and Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth.
Before becoming King George VI, the royal member was known as Prince Albert and he had a speech impediment. On the insistence of his wife Elizabeth, the prince begins to work with an Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The two forge a friendship as Logue uses unconventional methods to help the prince overcome his stammer.
Colin Firth won an Oscar for his performance as King George VI.
Erin Brockovich (2000)
An unemployed single mother Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) convinces her former lawyer Ed Masry (Albert Finney) to hire her as a legal assistant. After stumbling upon some medical records, she begins an investigation and discovers that an energy corporation’s role in contaminating the groundwater in the local community.
Erin Brockovich is an inspiring story that is filled with funny and heartfelt moments. Roberts’ portrayal of Brockovich made her the first actress to win five major awards including an Oscar, BAFTA, and a Golden Globe for a single film.