Will the likes of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Shimit Amin, Nitesh Tiwari, Anand Pandit and Tigmanshu Dhulia make bio-pics to celebrate our new Olympic legends?
India is currently celebrating its haul of multiple medals at the Olympics. A sporting victory always cheers the morale of a nation especially during a challenging time. As we face all the trials and tribulations imposed by the pandemic, the performances of Neeraj Chopra, PV Sindhu, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, Lovelina Borgohain, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bajrang Puniya and our hockey teams at the Tokyo Olympics brought us hope and joy. A collective cheer erupted across the country as Neeraj Chopra brought the Olympic gold home, and other athletes also earned laurels with stunning resolve.
The stories of each of these achievers are stirring, inspiring and speak of enormous grit and determination in the face of tremendous odds. Each one of these winners could very well merit a biopic. Well, we pick some names that are most likely to film these stories. The question is, which one of these makers will document India’s Olympic glory?
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra: Be it Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) or Toofan (2021), Mehra has a knack for telling rousing stories of sporting underdogs who rise from darkness to triumph. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was of course based on the life of the legendary Milkha Singh who passed away recently. The film captured both the pain and the glory of an extraordinary life and maybe Mehra is already setting his eyes on the next big biopic of a star Olympian. Could it be Neeraj Chopra, by any chance? Especially because after a long drought, Chopra finally brought home the golden biscuit and made history?
Shimit Amin: When the women’s hockey team was fighting tooth and nail for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, many people were reminded of director Shimit Amin’ s 2007 megahit Chak De! India which told a fictional story about the Indian women’s national hockey team’s global dominance. The themes of sexism, struggle for parity and bigotry that the film explored continue to be relevant today. Will Amin give us a sequel, based on the life of perhaps Rani Rampal or hattrick whiz Vandana Katariya? Let us hope he does.
Nitesh Tiwari: Nitesh Tiwari who brought us the story of Mahavir Phogat and daughters Babita and Geeta in the 2016 hit Dangal is the perfect choice to film more rousing tales of setbacks and milestones. The journeys of Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Bajrang Puniya to international acclaim, for instance, are packed with hardship and demonstrate why most of our sporting heroes come from impoverished and disadvantaged backgrounds. The fire in the belly that sets them apart is also what sets the narrative of Dangal apart from many other biopics. Will Tiwari venture in this territory again? Only time will tell.
Anand Pandit: Veteran producer Anand Pandit has recently expressed a wish to make a biopic on an Olympian. It remains to be seen just who he will pick to immortalise forever on celluloid. We hope he chooses to celebrate women power and backs a film on PV Sindhu or perhaps Saikhom Mirabai Chanu. Especially because, in many social environments, girls still have to struggle to fulfil their ambitions, to wear clothes of their choice and to chase their dreams fearlessly. A rousing biopic based on a brave heart who has battled gender biases and a lot more to triumph will inspire many more young girls to dream too!
Tigmanshu Dhulia: With Paan Singh Tomar (2012), director Tigmanshu Dhulia delivered a reality check and reminded us that sporting success does not always guarantee social parity, economic equity or legal justice. This is one story that reminded India that many of its heroes even after winning great honours for the nation have either vanished into oblivion or are struggling to make ends meet. Maybe Dhulia should retell this story with a protagonist like Lovelina Borgohain who was celebrated for her Olympic medal even though racism targets her co-citizens routinely.
(Cover: Neeraj Chopra of India celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Javelin for men competition during the Track and Field competition at the Olympic Stadium at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 7th, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan // Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)