From Neerja to Airlift: Why Bollywood is on a true story roll

  • Prashant Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2016 09:34 IST
Neerja was a critical and commercial success.

Making films based on the lives of people, also known as biopics, has been a trend in Bollywood for the past couple of years. And now, going a step further, many film-makers have also started focusing on real-life incidents.

So, if last year saw the release of director Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar (based on the Aarushi Talwar murder case) , this year has also witnessed back-to-back movies revolving around real-life incidents hit the theatres. Akshay Kumar-starrer Airlift garnered acclaim. It was followed by the success of Neerja. Even film-maker Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh has opened to great reviews.

Read: Airlift review: Akshay Kumar and his saviour act is a must-watch

Talking about the advantage of making a movie based on real incidents, Raja Krishna Menon, director of Airift, says, “Firstly, when you work on a real subject, the narrative style becomes very clean and structured. So, the construction of such stories is similar to the way we hear tales at home from our elders, with a clear starting point, midpoint and climax. So, the storytelling technique becomes very identifiable.”

Watch the Talvar review here

In the recent past, films like Special 26 (2013), Shahid (2013) and Baby (2015), among others, were also based on real incidents. “Audiences have always lapped up quality subjects. So, as long as the stories are entertaining and engaging, people will applaud it. Also, if a real incident has taken place in the recent past, the audience can identify with it strongly,” says trade analyst Amod Mehra.

Read: Neerja review: Sonam Kapoor is the star of this searing biopic

Apart from the film-makers, actors, too, are excited about doing such roles. “I find real stories extremely fascinating. You may have heard or read about real incidents or historical events, but watching them visually on screen is interesting.

Watch the Neerja review here

For instance, if I were to show you on screen how Shivaji (Maratha warrior) fought valiantly in various wars, you would be more interested,” says Akshay.

And there are more Bollywood films in the pipeline currently to take the trend forward. Movies like Raman Raghav 2.0 (the deranged, real-life serial killer of the ‘60s) and Sarbjit (based on the slain Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh and his sister’s struggle for his release) will also take cue for real-life incidents. “Our film-makers have started to get as excited about reality as fantasy. It’s a great sign that our audiences don’t just want to see ‘leave-your-brain-at-home’ kind of cinema anymore,” says Raja.

Read: Talvar review: A sharp narrative makes it taut, gripping thriller

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