Our Obsession With What Is Real And/Or Reel In Dangal Needs To Stop!

By Shreya Jha

We need to stop obsessing over it, right now!

An insight into growing hype regarding real life characters and their reel life portrayal.


The history..

India has been a witness to overwhelming amount of film and television content since 1913 when the first feature film Raja Harish chandra was directed by the legendary Dadasaheb Phalke . The sea of Indian cinema has  seen widespread biographical themes along with different genre. The first among them of course being Raja Harishchandra, also the first feature film made in India.

And the saga continues…

After this film we had a number of directors who took inspiration from it and created  works on lives of freedom fighters, rulers of medieval India ( like Akbar and Shah Jahan), politicians like Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah. In the more recent past we have seen a number of biographical works on former cricketers, sportsmen and even famous actors who have created a mark for them in the film industry.

The audience and the hype..

While we talk about the advent and growth of biographical works in Indian cinema we must talk side by side the growth of audience watching these films. We are prone to film reviews by acclaimed critics along with personal reviews given by our friends who watch them. What we are also prone to is the amazing amount of twitter reviews, junk journalism and exposure to almost each and everyone giving their reviews on the film. Whenever a film is released there is a review of it immediately followed by a plenty of reviews on different social media platforms confusing the users regarding the correctness of opinion related to the film.

Narrowing it down to biographical works what the usual trend is comparison between the real and reel characters to such an extent that it makes the belief popular that movie is nothing like the real life of the character thereby destroying the immense hard work and research which goes behind the lens.  Instead of spending ample time in finding the mistakes and comparing between the real and reel life why can’t we just sit back and view the piece of art with fewer complications? With the release of Dangal and almost all social media platforms flooded with comments like “the dangal fight was nothing like the real wrestling match” and “what imperfections we failed to notice in Dangal”, let us take  glance at how the hype has been created in past regarding biographical films. 

1) Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

This movie was based on the life of iconic sportsperson Milkha Singh. When the movie was released there was absence of appreciation and more of complaining by the critics as well as the audience who hated the long hours for which they had to watch the movie. Some appreciation poured in with reference to Farhan Akhtar regarding the amount of hard work which he had done for the movie to get into the character. Rest there was absolutely no appreciation regarding extensive research or hard work done by the team.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

2) Jodha Akbar

This movie was loosely a biographical work. It was more of a historical romance between the Mughal king Akbar and his wife Jodha Bai who was a Hindu Rajput princess. When the movie tried to explore the complex reaction to hindu-muslim marriage in medieval India and the greatness of Akbar in embracing all faiths, how the audience, especially the political parties reacted was by imposing a ban on the film.. How we misinterpret the dialogues for actual derogation are the perfect examples of what the country goes through every time when such movies are released.

Jodha Akbar
Jodha Akbar

3) Bajirao Mastani

Though the movie was a blockbuster and we spent a good hour admiring the sets and lavish costumes, what closely followed was a public outrage led by the supposed descendants of Maharashtrian royal family over a particular song. According to them it was immoral to represent the royal ladies dancing in such fashion as it was in violation of the customary practices of those times and that the saris of the actors were draped rather too “revealingly”. Of course there has to be an entertainment quotient in the movie for it to be appealing to the audience and there cannot be a mere narration of history.

Bajirao Mastani
Bajirao Mastani

Be sensible!

Instead of commenting on any random detail which we do not like, why can’t we be more sensible and comment on a valuable matter of fact. It is true of any biographical genre that inaccuracies will creep in but film-making is always open to interpretation. What we see, what we look at it basically what the director’s interpretations are. If you do not agree with it then there is no compulsion to watch that movie. There cannot be exactness and accuracy in each and every part. There must be acceptance of this fact that in order to be more appealing there can be some additions to the subject. It should be viewed not always with a critical eye, aimed at finding faults, but also with respect for what all it takes to present it before you.

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Why Do Indian Filmmakers Go Wrong With Biographies And Biopics?


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