Can Diljit Dosanjh’s Soorma match up to these 6 Hollywood sports biopics?
With the Sandeep Singh biopic Soorma, starring Diljit Dosanjh, around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the best sports biopics from Hollywood. Can Soorma match up?hollywood Updated: Jul 12, 2018 16:28 IST
Sports biopics are the flavour of the week in Bollywood, but the week has turned into years, with each new film doing wonders at the box office. It all began with the one-two punch of Dhoni: The Untold Story, based on the life of former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni and Dangal, about the coming-of-age of the wrestling sister Geeta and Babita Phogat, which went on to become the biggest box office success in Indian movie history.
There were a few hiccups along the way. The Mary Kom biopic starring Priyanka Chopra didn’t quite set the cash registers on fire and Azhar, the film about the disgraced former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, starring Emraan Hashmi, was criticised for being a PR exercise to cleanse his image.
But this week we have Soorma, the biopic of Sandeep Singh, in which the Indian drag flicker will be played by Diljit Dosanjh. Not only does it face the uphill task of appealing to the Bollywood masses with a Punjabi star at its centre, but it’s also about hockey, a sport that doesn’t quite attract the attention that something like cricket does in our country.
Bollywood biopics have always struggled with accurately representing their subjects, usually because they’re closely involved with the production. A common criticism is that they whitewash the lives of their subjects and focus mostly on the achievements.
This isn’t the case in Hollywood though. The best sports biopics abroad are the ones that fearlessly explore their subjects, unbothered by whatever demons that might be uncovered. Here are a few of them.
No list of great sports biopics is complete without Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece about boxer Jake LaMotta. There’s so much going on in Raging Bull, so many layers and so many resonant themes, that it’s easy to forget that it’s a sports movie. But then again, it’s so much more than that. It’s a classic that does just what it’s supposed to: It makes Jake LaMotta immortal.
So while we’re at it, why not nudge another boxing movie in there? Also, can we all just stop arguing and agree that boxing movies are the best sports movies? And The Fighter is one of the best boxing movies ever made - unflinching in its portrayal of Boston fighter Mickie Ward and his cocaine-addicted brother, Dickie.
Senna is a documentary (not the only one you’ll see on this list) about Ayrton Senna, possibly the most celebrated Formula 1 driver to ever grab a steering wheel. What’s so amazing about this film is that minutes into watching it two things will happen: One, you’ll forget you’re watching a documentary and two, you’ll become an F1 fan (if you aren’t already, that is).
Bobby Fischer Against the World
Yes, chess is a sport. And Bobby Fischer is the greatest chess player ever. At least for the purposes of this list. This entry is unusual for two reasons: A) It is also, like Senna, a documentary, and B) Well, it’s about chess. No one was expecting a chess movie here. It’s about Fischer’s famous 1972 World Championship match against Boris Spassky of the USSR, and how one man became a symbol, and – ahem – a pawn in his country’s Cold War strategy. It combines interviews of several chess grandmasters, rare archive footage, and it is, all in all, unmissable.
The Damned United
A biopic of a football player makes sense, but one on a football manager? There was no reason for The Damned United to be as good as it was, but thanks to a thrilling story (Leeds United manager Brian Clough’s ill-fated 44-day tenure at the club), an outstanding performance by Michael Sheen and lines like this: “I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the country. But I’m in the top one.” The Damned United is the best, and most unexpectedly brilliant football biopic you’re likely to see.
After a biopic of a football manager, here’s one about a horse. Seabiscuit, about the undersized thoroughbred who became a hero to thousands affected by the Great Depression, a symbol of hope in terrible times, is a special movie. So much so that when you Google the term ‘crowd-pleaser’ you’re probably going to find Seabiscuit’s warm eyes staring back at you.
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First Published: Jul 12, 2018 16:25 IST