10 Most Inspiring Bollywood Biopics to Stir Your Soul
Everyone loves watching biographical movies. There’s something really unique and pure in witnessing the dramatisation of a real person’s life.
The subjects of biopics, most of whom come from humble beginnings, braved great difficulties to achieve their dreams. This fact makes the biopic experience much more relatable for the general audience.
Bollywood is also making good use of this knowledge and keeps churning out successful biopics one after another. And so, we bring you a list of 10 amazing Bollywood biopics based on the inspiring lives of people from all walks of life, be it war heroes, freedom fighters or sports persons.
List of 10 Most Inspiring Bollywood Biopics to Stir Your Soul
Release Year: 2021
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani, Shiv Panditt
Shershaah took the Indian public by storm in 2021. Released during the pandemic, Shershaah was a massive success with both critics and audiences alike.
Shershaah is based on the life of Kargil War hero Captain Vikram Batra. He led the battalion that captured the crucial Peak 5140 in Kargil and successfully drove away the Pakistani invaders.
Shershaah is a must-watch Bollywood biopic that not only brilliantly portrays the heroic feats of Captain Vikram Batra but also leaves the viewers with a sense of patriotism.
Release Year: 2016
Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tikku, Jim Sarbh
Neerja is a Bollywood thriller based on the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986. As the title suggests, Neerja primarily focuses on the brave actions of Neerja Bhanot, who was a purser on the flight.
She displayed immense courage during the ordeal by constantly stalling the terrorists and attending to the passengers. Neerja was shot dead while shielding three children from the terrorists. She received numerous posthumous awards for her bravery from the Indian, US, and Pakistani governments.
Ram Madhvani's Neerja expertly portrays the incident, with Sonam Kapoor delivering an outstanding performance as Neerja Bhanot.
3. Paan Singh Tomar
Release Year: 2010
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mahie Gill
Paan Singh Tomar is one of the best Bollywood biopics ever. The film is based on the incredible story of a soldier turned athlete turned rebel, Paan Singh Tomar.
Tigmanshu Dhulia wrote and directed the film. Paan Singh Tomar shows how a corrupt system turns honest men into criminals. Paan Singh Tomar turned rebel to avenge his family’s honour after a violent land feud with a relative.
Paan Singh Tomar was well-received by audiences and critics and even won two National Awards. The film serves both as a deep character study and a sports drama.
4. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Release Year: 2013
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Divya Dutta, Sonam Kapoor
Milkha Singh, also known as "The Flying Sikh," is a renowned sports icon in India. He remains one of the few Indian athletes to compete in the final of an Olympic track and field event.
Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag depicts Milkha Singh’s inspiring life, from his traumatic upbringing during the partition and his Army career to his athletic achievements.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is an exciting and quite emotional biopic, so keep a box of tissue handy.
5. M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story
Release Year: 2016
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani, Anupam Kher
No Bollywood biopic list would be complete without including M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. The film is based on the life of arguably the most popular Indian sportsperson of the century, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The former Indian cricket team captain successfully won the 2011 ICC World Cup, India’s first since 1983, and won over the hearts of every Indian. Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is based on the life of the titular cricketer and was a big hit at the box office.
Release Year: 2012
Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Hansal Mehta’s Shahid is a biographical drama film based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi. He was a former alleged terrorist who spent several years in prison and later became a lawyer to help other victims of false allegations.
Azmi mostly defended people charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, many of whom were later acquitted. Azmi courted controversy due to this and was later assassinated. Shahid is a difficult watch but an essential one and should be on the watchlist of every Bollywood biopic fan.
7. Sardar Udham
Release Year: 2021
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Banita Sandhu, Kirsty Averton
Sardar Udham is based on the freedom fighter Udham Singh, who travelled to the UK and assassinated Michael O’Dwyer to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
O’Dwyer was the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab who is said to have ordered General Dyer to carry out his assault on thousands of unarmed civilians at Jallianwala Bagh.
Udham Singh’s act polarised the nation, with some calling it an act of terror while others declared him a national hero. Nonetheless, Shoojit Sircar’s Sardar Udham remains a must-watch Bollywood biopic.
8. Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Release Year: 2005
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Toby Stephens
Mangal Pandey: The Rising is inspired by the titular soldier, who is often held responsible for sparking the revolt of 1857.
Mangal Pandey was an infantryman in the British East India Company who, along with several other sepoys, mutinied after refusing to bite the cow-fat-greased cartridges of their rifles. Their fight soon turned into a countrywide revolt which almost overthrew the British Empire.
Ketan Mehta directed Mangal Pandey: The Rising and it's also considered to be one of Aamir Khan's best movies.
Release Year: 2018
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal
Sanju is a biographical drama based on the life of Bollywood film actor Sanjay Dutt. The film depicts Dutt’s larger-than-life story, which is marred by drug abuse, rehab, stardom, and associations with terrorists.
Sanju stars Ranbir Kapoor as the titular actor in probably the best performance of his film career. Sanju's historical accuracy has been put to question but we can't deny that it's an absolutely inspiring and entertaining Bollywood biopic.
Release Year: 2018
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Jaideep Ahlawat
Raazi is inspired by the true story of a female RAW spy, Sehmat Khan, in the 1970s. Meghna Gulzar directed Raazi, based on the novel Calling Sehmat by Harinder S. Sikka.
Raazi follows Sehmat as she is married off into a Pakistani military family to deliver sensitive information about the Pakistan army. Raazi is one of the highest-grossing Indian biopics, and what makes it especially unique is the female protagonist, which you don't see often in Bollywood.
A real-life patriotic thriller without much jingoism, Raazi is Bollywood at its best.
That’s the end of our list of 10 most-inspiring Bollywood biopics. Hopefully, you enjoyed it and will take some inspiration from the exciting life of the above mentioned real-life heroes. Stay tuned for more such insightful lists on cinema and education.
- Shershaah (2021)
- Neerja (2016)
- Paan Singh Tomar (2010)
- Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
- M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)
- Shahid (2012)
- Sardar Udham (2021)
- Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)
- Sanju (2018)
- Raazi (2018)