Real life stories have always supplied enough fodder to Bollywood writers & directors to create masterpieces on the silver screen. Recently, movie-goers have feasted their eyes on some biopics (movies based on the life of celebrities or real events) like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom, Airlift, Paan Singh Tomar and more.
Some of the big Bollywood stars readily agreed to sign up such promising projects. Indabaa provides an exhaustive list of such movies for film freaks. You can suggest us a good title if you don’t find one in the list.
List of Bollywood Films Based on True Stories
#1 Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
One of my favorite flicks that narrates ups and downs of legendary athlete of India. All kudos to the director Rakeysh Omprakas Mehra, his crew and Farhan Akhtar, who gave one of the best performances of his career.
#2. Mary Kom
Though this one is not as successful a project as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom was a good effort from Omung Kumar a.k.a OK. The movie was rather pictured as documentary, without much dramatic elements. However, the film grossed well on box office. Priyanka Chopra’s performance was appreciated by Indian audience.
#3. The Dirty Picture
It was Vidya Balan, who pulled the crowd to multiplexes by portraying a South siren Silk Smitha. The movie portrays Vidya as an ultimate symbol of sensuality. In the movie, Silk romances with her three male counterparts. The movie tells the sad story of Silk Smitha, who started off as D-grade actress and soon got a chance to work as character artists.
#4. Nobody Killed Jessica
The story of this movie revolves around the murder of Jessica Lal, who was shot dead by Manu Sharma. The killer of Lal hailed from a high-profile family of Venod Sharma, who was a former minister of the national government. The protagonist of the movie was Rani Mukerji, who played a journalist. Vidya Balan was another leading lady of the movie playing the sister of Jessica Lal. The movie created much excitement among viewers.
#5. Chak De India
Chak De India is a confluence (or clash) of India’s culture in 16 women hockey players hailed from different parts of the country. The team is mentored by a Muslim coach, who was once a goal keeper of Indian hockey team. During a match against Pakistan, India lost the match as Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) failed to stop penalty shot. Seen as traitor and pro-Pakistani, Kabir Khan decided to sanitize this stigma. What begins then is a real drama. It was a Herculean task for Kabir Khan to bring every provincial player to the national podium. But he did it successfully and the team brought home the trophy. Shah Rukh played the role of Mir Ranjan Negi, who faced accusations of throwing the match against Pakistan in Asian Games 1982.
The movie narrates the battle between India and Pakistan, when the latter launched her infantry against India at Longewala, Rajasthan in 1971. This was the first Bollywood film in which Pakistan was openly addressed as belligerent nation; before Border, no war drama of Bollywood dared to call Pakistan as enemy of India.
Guru is a biopic telling the story of India’s self-made business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani. Abhishek Bachchan unmistakably portrayed the role of an industrialist, who, with his business acumen and tactics, quickly became a successful businessman. Guru was directed by Mani Ratnam.
#8. Special 26
Special 26 was based on 1987 Opera House heist done by a conman, who produced himself as CBI official. The case is still unresolved as police failed to find any trail of the fraudster. Akshay Kumar played the lead role, while Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Rajesh Sharma, Kishor Kadam, and Divya Dutta were cast as Kumar’s accomplices in heists. The movie was directed by Neeraj Pandey, who also directed A Wednesday, Total Siyapaa, and Baby. His upcoming films are M S Dhoni: The Untold Story and Rustom.
#9. Paan Singh Tomar
Paan Singh Tomar is a story of Indian soldier, who later became dacoit. The film flawlessly describes the predicament of a soldier, who rose to the fame as athlete and then turned dacoit only to be gunned down by the police. The movie was directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and the titular role was played impeccably by Irrfan Khan.
#10. Gangs Of Wasseypur
Gangs of Wasseypur is a true tale of a coal mafia of Dhanbad, Jharkhand. Directed by Anurag Kashyap starring Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi and Richa Chadha in the lead roles. Though it was not a super hit, the film was widely loved by the young generation.
#11. Once upon a time In Mumbai
This film showed how the underworld grew stronger in Mumbai from drugging and other wrong activities. It is directed by Milan Lutharia and casts Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai, Kangana Ranaut and Randeep Huda. Its characters were inexactly motivated by criminals Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim.
#12. Gulaab Gang
This is an Indain Drama film based on true story of a Gulabi Gang of Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh that was led by Sampat Pal Devi. The gang came into existence because of the domestic violence and savagery against the ladies in their homes. The story was then grabbed by Soumik Sen and made into a motion picture. It had Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla in the lead roles.
The film is based on the 2002 Gujarat riots that changed lives and everyday activities of individuals in the state. This movie claims to have a thousand true stories and the encounters that took place amongst the mobs. You will be so touched upon seeing the same, if the movie was like this, imagine the reality people actually faced. This was the first movie directed by Nandita Das. She very precisely chose her casts that included Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval and Paresh Rawal.
#14. Madras Cafe
The Sri Lankan civil war and assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is what lead in making the political thriller Madras Cafe. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the film cast John Abraham, Leena Paul and Nargis Fakhri in the leading roles. This movie tells us how the Indian political history changed and how plans were made for the assassination, which could have been foiled if bureaucratic intricacies had not tangled the case.
Airlift is a 2016 Indian war thriller film directed by Raja Krishna Menon. It features Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur in the lead roles. Menon was encouraged to make this movie after he completely studied the war details that were available. The film takes after Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait-based businessman who gets what he wants but at the time of the war, he sees that his own money cannot bring him safety. He alone plans on a common operation to contact the Indian Embassy and ask for help to get hundreds of Indian people back to India from Kuwait amid the war zone. A story of relentless courage of a single man to help the others and join all ends to make it happen.
#16. Shoot Out at Lokhandwala
This is an Indian crime film with an ensemble cast. The dreaded gangster’s role of Maya Dolas is played by Vivek Oberoi. He along with his teams hides in a complex in Lokhandwala and the ATS head plans and decides to attack there with 400 armed officers. Shoot Out at Lokhandwala is a motion picture in light of the genuine shoot out of criminal Maya Dolas on 16 November 1991 by Additional magistrate of police (ACP) A.A. Khan, leader of the ATS, with a power of around 400 armed policemen.
#17. The Attacks of 26/11
The attacks of 26/11 are something no one can forget. Today also we hear of it and we can feel goosebumps and anger. This movie The Attacks of 26/11 was directed by Ram Gopal Varma. You get to see how the actual incident of the brutal killing and bomb blast took place that left the entire country shock stricken. One terrorist was arrested alive – Ajmal Kasab. Nana Patekar plays the role of the Joint Commissioner of Police.
#18. LOC Kargil
LOC Kargil was released in 2003; it is based on the Kargil war that took place in 1999 between India and Pakistan. This movie has been produced and directed by J. P. Dutta. It cast many actors some of which are Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Suneil Shetty, Abhishek Bachchan and more. The difficulties faced by our army and the way they overcame it are shown very clearly in this movie.
#19. Shoot On Sight
Shoot on Sight is a 2007 film directed by Jag Mundhra and produced by Aron Govil. The lead roles are played by Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Brian Cox. Shoot on Sight is based on the Operation Kratos, the police were ordered to apply the “shoot-to-kill” policy on any suspected suicide-bombers. This act was done after the London Bombings on 7th July. In this movie the shooting that takes place in the underground killing an innocent Muslim is a fact.
#20. Bandit Queen
Bandit Queen is based on the life of Phoolan Devi. This movie was directed by Shekhar Kapoor and Seema Biswas played the role of Bandit Queen. The life of Phulan Devi who was married at a very young age, molested and had many hardships in life. Who runs back home but still faces the problems and is then forced to leave the village and join the group of dacoits. Amazing dialogues and amazing presentation that won this movie National Film Award for Best Feature in Hindi.
Shahid is a Hindi biographical film based on the life of a lawyer and human right activist Shahid Azmi, who was killed in 2010 in Mumbai. This film is directed by Hansal Mehta. Azmi, a legal counsel and lobbyist, is popular for having battled for the general population charged under POTA and TADA. He suffered during the Bombay Riots and moved to PoK, enlisted in an activist camp. He returned however to end up as legal counselor and devoted himself to people who had be trialed or arrested for wrong claims and cases.
This is an epic biographical film based on the true life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, father of nation. Though the entire life of Mahatma Gandhi cannot be covered in a single film, makers of this film have tried to bring in the most important portions of his life. This movie makes a splendid showing of defining Gandhi’s life. Ben Kingsley won an Academy Award for his splendid depiction of Gandhi in the motion picture.
Sardar is a move based on the life of our freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhai Patel. The movie was directed by Ketan Mehta. Sardar Vallabahi Patel was popularly known as India’s Iron Man. The motion picture delightfully outlines his association with Gandhi and Gandhian standards, and Nehru. This role was played by Paresh Rawal, who has made a wonderful showing in the motion picture.
#24. Manjhi-THE Mountain Man
Manjhi- The Mountain Man is a biographical movie based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi. It was released in 2015 and was directed by Ketan Mehta. Dashrath Manjhi is popular as the “The Mountain Man”, was a poor labourer in the Gehalur, in a small village near Gaya in Bihar. Manjhi was encouraged to carve a road through mountain after his wife fell down from the mountain. Nawazuddin played the main role and justified it very nicely.
Rahasya is movie based on the Aarushi murder case that took hype on the entire country. This movie has been directed by Manish Gupta. The main stars are Kay Kay Menon, Tisca Chopra, Ashish Vidyarthi, Mita Vashisht and Ashwini Kalsekar. Major inputs of the film were taken by case and there were criticism by Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. This film was released on 30th March 2105.
#26. Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010)
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is based on Manini Chatterjee’s book Do And Die, which is based on the Chittagong Uprising in 1930 against the British Rule. It is about a teacher Surya Sen also known as Masterda. He is a well-known progressive pioneer of the Indian Republican Army Chittagong, who had an instinctual style for Swaraj and Independence.
#27. Bawandar (2000)
Bawandar is a Hindi film based on the rape victim of Rajasthan Bhawari Devi. Directed by Jag Mundhra and the lead role played by Nandita Das. Names have been changed for some reason in the film, but it depicts exactly what happened to Bhavari Devi after she was raped, her personal trauma, public humiliation that she had to face and the legal injustice that she went through.
#28. Bajirao Mastani
Bajirao Mastani is a 2015 Indian period movie directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who likewise made the music score out of the film. The film stars Ranveer Singh as Bajirao Ballal and Deepika Padukone as Mastani, with Priyanka Chopra playing Rao’s first wife Kashibai. Tanvi Azmi, Vaibbhav Tatwawdi and Milind Soman show up in supporting parts. In view of the Marathi novel Raau by Nagnath S. Inamdar, the film portrays the narrative of the Maratha Peshwa Bajirao (1700-1740 AD) and his second wife Mastani.
#29. Bombay Velvet
Bombay Velvet is a 2015 Indian period crime-drama. It is directed by and co-produced by Anurag Kashyap. He has made this movie based on the book Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash. Where Balraj palyed by Ranbir Kapoor a street fighter/boxer is in love with jazz singer Rosy played by Anushka Sharma. It also stars Karan Johar who plays the role of a wealthy man Kaizad Khanbatta.
Hawaizaada is based on the biography of Shivkar Bapuji Talpade. It is directed by Vibhu Puri starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Sharda. Set in Bombay, 1895, it takes after a fictionalized story of Talpade who is credited with having built India’s first unmanned plane and the hardship he went through. The film was released on 30 January 2015.
Azhar is an Indian biographical sports film based on the life of the famous cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin and how he was blamed for match fixing and how his personal life went for a toss. It is directed by Tony D’Souza and written by Rajat Arora. It has been produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor. Emraan Hashmi is playing the role of Azhar, other lead roles are Nargis Fakhri, Prachi Desai and Lara Dutta who plays a crucial supporting role.
#32. Neerja (2016)
Neerja is a biographical thriller based on a plane hijack Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan on 5th September 1986 and what role Neerja Bhanot played to save the passengers. The brave and bold girl who managed to save almost all the passengers giving up her life for it. She was a girl with beauty and brains. This film was directed by Ram Madhvani, written by Saiwyn Quadras and Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh. It stars Sonam Kapoor as the lead character, and features Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku and Shekhar Ravjiani in supporting roles.
#33. Sarkar and Sarkar Raj
Sarkar is a 2005 Indian crime movie set in the realm of the crime in Maharashtra. It has been based on life of Bal Thackeray. The main role was played by Amitabh Bachchan while Abhishek Bachchan played Shankar Nagre. It also casts Kay Kay Menon, Katrina Kaif, Anupam Kher, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Supriya Pathak and Tanisha Mukherjee. Its sequel Sarkar Raj was released in 2008 and was premiered at New York Asian Film Festival.
#34. Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain is a 2014 authentic dramatization film set in the midst of the Bhopal devastation that took place in India on 2–3 December 1984. It is directed by Ravi Kumar and stars Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton, Kal Penn, Rajpal Yadav, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Fagun Thakrar in vital parts. Music composer of this film is Benjamin Wallfisch. Ravi Kumar was inspired to make this film after he read a book on the Bhopal disaster.
#35. Mumbai Meri Jaan
Mumbai Meri Jaan is a 2008 Hindi film whose director is Nishikanth Kamat and producer is Ronnie Screwvala. It stars R. Madhavan, Soha Ali Khan, Irrfan Khan, Paresh Rawal and Kay Kay Menon. It is inspired by the repercussions of the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bomb blasts, where 209 individuals lost their lives and more than 700 were injured. It is also a winner of multiple Filmfare Awards.
Dhoop is a film by Ashwini Chaudhary, based on the Battle of Tiger Hill. The film stars Om Puri and Revathi and is based on the life of Captain Anuj Nayyar, MVC and his family. The movie talks of the death of Capt Anuj Nayyar, MVC of 17 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army. He was brutally killed in the operations against Pakistani Army as a part of the Kargil Conflict in the southwest sector of Tiger Hill on 5 July 1999.
#37. Jolly LLB
Jolly LLB is a 2013 Indian Hindi court drama comedy film. This amazing comedy film is written and directed by Subhash Kapoor. The film stars Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani and Amrita Rao in lead parts. This film is based on the 1999 hit-and-run case of Sanjeev Nanda and a very small reference is also there of the Priyadarshini Mattoo case. It shows the early life of Lawyer Jagdish aka Jolly.
So here is my list of movies that are based on real life stories. If you have any movies that you think is left out you can share titles with us. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.