Why Do Indian Filmmakers Go Wrong With Biographies & Biopics

Fact: Adding too much spice to life, literally, is what fails biopics.

If the memory of Azhar is fresh in one’s mind, the memory of the movie’s disclaimer of fictionality must be fresh too. Of how Navjot Singh Sidhu became just Navjot and Ravi Shastri just Ravi. No last names, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Case in point, the extremely defensive nature of the film to extent of implying that the big, bad world desperately wants rid of the great hero Azhar(uddin). Reality begs to differ.

Walking out his completely functional marriage to Naureen and into a relationship with Sangeeta Bijlani was conscious and surely not worthy of just outlandish excuses, as opposite to what Azhar portrays.


Ravi Shastri is reported to have taken serious offence at his portrayal and I certainly don’t blame him.

No biopic has ever been made without more of a story than is supposed to be told. There is always that element of song and dance, a romantic subplot – throw in a symbolic lovemaking scene or two depending upon the venerability of the subject – and most certainly, a dollop of overdramatised heroism (due respect; don’t want to be sued).

There lies the catch; heavier interests lie in the ‘pic’ than in the ‘bio’. What sells, is what is produced (unfortunately, more than a handful fail to take off at the box office too).

A film may be based on the life of one person, but it often tells its own story. That way too many of the audiences know the former too well, costs the film its success.

On other occasions, a movie-goer would simply not be interested in knowing the colour of the shirt a yesteryear superstar wore while signing his third blockbuster, while sipping on his single malt. You understand, a bit of too much detail, or plainly the lack of public interest in the ‘hero’ can prove lethal to any business the film can hope to indulge in with its obvious ‘filminess’.

I, for one, would show more interest in a movie following the life of someone I admire, if it addressed unanswered questions and respects them, but only as much as is practical (cue, Azhar).

As ironic as it seems, a biopic rests on the shoulders of its scriptwriters. That’s what goes wrong with most. Hence, Azhar isn’t alone, and Tony D’Souza may sigh in relief, the onus is on Rajat Arora.

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