From Savitri biopic Mahanati to NN Pillai’s story: Here’s why southern cinema is warming up to biopics

From Mahanati to NN Pillai’s story, a host of biopics are taking form in the south Indian film industry.

regional movies Updated: Apr 08, 2018 15:37 IST
Haricharan Pudipeddi
Haricharan Pudipeddi
Hindustan Times
Mahanati,Savitri biopic,Samantha Akkineni
Savitri biopic is titled Mahanati and stars Samantha Akkineni and Keerthy Suresh.

It’s the season of biopics in southern cinema. After Bollywood struck gold with biopics such as Neerja, Mary Kom and Dangal, it’s the turn of southern filmmakers to go down the same path. From the Savitri biopic Mahanati starring Samantha Akkineni, Dulquer Salmaan and Keerthy Suresh to the journey of shuttler Pullela Gopichand, the reason behind success stories like that of PV Sindhu , southern audiences can look forward to as many as half a dozen projects which are in the pipeline and are confirmed to release soon.

The story of legendary southern actor Savitri, who ruled the roost for nearly three decades, is being made into a Tamil-Telugu bilingual biopic called Mahanati, and it features Keerthy Suresh in the titular role. A magnum opus period drama set in the golden era, the film is aimed at showing why Savitri was considered a legend, says its director Nag Ashwin.

“I was fascinated by her life, the ups and downs, and the stardom she enjoyed. For many years, she was considered a bigger star than most of her male counterparts. When I started reading more about her and gathered information from various sources, I felt her story deserved to be told and celebrated,” he said.

Ashwin went on to add that the story and the character of Savitri are so script-like. “It has got its emotional thread so strong that I’m very confident that audiences will relate to it. I feel stories need to have a certain value to be made into cinema and this story has value on so many levels – historic and emotional,” he added. The film also stars Arjun Reddy fame Vijay Devarakonda in pivotal role.

According to director Praveen Sattaru, who is all set to commence work on Pullela Gopichand biopic with Sudheer Babu in the lead later this year, biopics add a personal touch to a story. allowing audiences to connect strongly on an emotional level.

Read | Dulquer Salmaan was a choice that I was hell bent on: Swapna Dutt Chalasani

“Let’s take Dangal as an example. The story of the Phogat sisters was depicted as realistically as possible and as audience when we watch it unfold on screen, we’re fully aware it’s based on a real life story. Naturally, as a viewer you’ll like it more than a fictional story because everything you see in the movie – be it drama, euphoria and heroism – can be related with the characters we root for,” Praveen said, adding that the story of Gopichand, too, will create a similar impact. He also said sports-based biopics are more likely to be received strongly.

Baaghi fame Sudheer Babu, who is kicked about playing the national icon, said Gopichand’s success story will appeal to audiences across languages.

In Malayalam, recently released biopic Captain, on the life of former Indian football captain V.P Sathyan, was well received. According to its director Prajesh Sen, who told Times of India: “People find real life stories of success and failure very inspiring. Sathyan led Indian team to a gold medal in the 1995 SAF Games in Chennai, and also led Kerala to the Santosh Trophy title in 1992. Audiences would like know more about Sathyan, and that’s what we captured through the film.”

Cinematographer-filmmaker Rajeev Ravi, whose last directorial outing was the critically-acclaimed Kammatipaadam, is all set to make a biopic on the popular writer, theatre artiste and freedom fighter, N Narayana Pillai, and it will feature Nivin Pauly in the lead. An acclaimed writer, Pillai has over 40 Malayalam plays to his credit. The project, which will have screenplay by Gopan Chidambaram, will go on the floors later this year.

Read | Savitri biopic most challenging role of my career: Keerthy Suresh

This year, Nivin will also be seen as the famed highwayman Kayamkulam Kochunni in the eponymous biopic. The film’s co-writer Sanjay, in a recent interview to Times of India, said that Kerala has a host of real-life personalities whose lives were nothing short of heroic. “Our younger generation is clueless about the legendary heroes who actually lived in Kerala. The Aithihyamala has several such magnificent characters and we want to introduce these heroes to the youth,” he said.

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First Published: Apr 08, 2018 15:19 IST