With Vijay Sethupathi stepping out of 800, the Muthiah Muralitharan biopic, we lost the chance to see a film that may have been a nuanced look at one of the cricket world’s most loved and polarising personalities. In fact, it’s the shades of grey in Harshad Mehta’s personality that has made his life story, Scam 1992, directed by Hansal Mehta, a huge hit today.
In the South, we’re going to see a season of biopics, including Soorarai Pottru (Air Deccan and GR Gopinath’s story, starring Suriya and directed by Sudha Kongara), Thalaivi (J Jayalalithaa’s biopic, starring Kangana Ranaut) and Kurup (Dulquer Salmaan playing the most wanted Sukumara Kurup).
Before they release, here’s a preemptive list of future biopics and who should be cast in them. Feel free to add your suggestions.
Dr Rajkumar, starring Shiva Rajkumar
From Bedara Kannappa (1954) to Shabdavedhi (2000), Kannada star Dr Rajkumar enjoyed great success on screen. His ability to transform into an everyman at the drop of a hat endeared him to fans from all over Karnataka. If there was one painful period in his life, however, it must have been the dreadful three-and-a-half months he was held captive by forest brigand Veerappan after he kidnapped him from his farm house.
Well, no filmmaker has captured that tumultuous event precisely so far. Though Shiva Rajkumar has starred in Killing Veerappan, the film did detail the dark days when a beloved actor was kept in the jungle. Maybe, that’s an area new-age directors can look into.
Sania Mirza, starring Deepika Padukone
We all know that Deepika Padukone is proficient in badminton. If she exchanges her badminton racket for the tennis one, she can easily play Indian tennis champ Sania Mirza. When there’s a book based on her rise to the top (Ace Against Odds), why shouldn’t there be a feature film?
Since sports biopics are currently hot favourites (after gangster movies and shows), you can’t question how Deepika would be able to pull off a Sania. The two stars may not resemble each other, but there’s a great chance here for a casting coup. Also, the film may dive into Indo-Pak ties, as Sania is married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.
NR Narayana Murthy, starring Pankaj Tripathi
Pankaj Tripathi, like his predecessor Irrfan, can slip into any role with ease. If he can mesmerise viewers as a don in Mirzapur and as a spiritual guru in Sacred Games, he can as well cast a magic spell in a business suit.
Yes, Narayana Murthy is South Indian, and it might be difficult for Pankaj to grasp the nuances unique to someone raised in Karnataka. But, that alone can’t stop him from stepping into the mild-mannered zone occupied by the co-founder of Infosys.
The movie can borrow a few shades from the Hollywood drama The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith. Even if the biopic doesn’t focus on the initial struggle before Infosys bloomed, it could try to inspire the masses with the story of a man who swam against the tide. Perhaps, Konkona Sen Sharma could be roped in to play author-philanthropist Sudha Murthy.
Viswanathan Anand, starring Dev Patel
Imagine Dev Patel as chess whiz Viswanathan Anand. Dev has already starred in the biopic of another Tamilian, the math wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan, in The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016). If this movie also gets made with a terrific cast, Mindy Kaling might just collaborate with him in an Indian-American film.
Also, the fan base for the young actor grew multifold in the subcontinent last year when he appeared in the Amazon Prime Video series Modern Love. Women blew soft kisses on social media, for he perfectly shone in the role of a lovesick man. Viswanathan Anand’s life won’t be the same, though, after the biopic!
Yet, it’s hard to not think of the sparkling background score that’ll accompany the actor’s face every time he makes a move on the chess board.
Ilaiyaraaja, starring Kathir or Vishnu Vishal
Ilaiyaraaja continues to remain one of Indian music’s most celebrated but mysterious characters. Though much has already been written about him, the maestro’s younger days, especially the period when he travelled to Madras to take over the film music scene by storm, has enough material to be inspirational for generations to come. Add scenes about the opposition he faced during the 70s, how he overcame them, and his infamous temper, and it will make for a fascinating portrait.
Then, there’s the music in this film. Won’t it be incredible to get Ilaiyaraaja himself (or even AR Rahman) to score for this film. For lead, one is torn between Kathir, easily among the better actors of today, to essay the younger portions of his life. Even Vishnu Vishal will surely do a good job, especially during the 80s and 90s period, to give us a small idea of how big the composer was at that period, and continues to be.
Ramalinga Raju, starring Venkatesh
The fact that only his film wasn’t allowed to get a release on Netflix’s Bad Boy Billionaires makes Ramalinga Raju even more mysterious. Accused of fixing books to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore, the founder of Satyam Computer Services was considered a hero until the truth caught up with him.
Little is known about his life during that whole period. If you look past the passing similarity he shares with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, it’s not too hard to imagine Telugu superstar Venkatesh in his biopic, in a restrained and measured performance. Given his popularity, the film’s technicalities might need to be simplified, but there’s surely an interesting film in there.
Abdul Kalam, starring Vijay Sethupathi
The former president of India, the late APJ Abdul Kalam, is one of those rare personalities who is unanimously loved and respected. His life has also become a part of many textbooks, but he is someone who really deserves a great biopic.
Now this might seem a bit far-fetched, but how about Vijay Sethupathi setting aside practising the doosra to take up some rocket science? Can you imagine a young VJS from 96 playing Dr Kalam in his youth? And, how about a clean-shaven and messy-haired VJS taking over from when Kalam is in his 40s? Remember his performance in Seethakaathi? Now, is it easier to picture him in the Rocket Man’s shoes?
Vijay Mallya, starring Mohanlal
If you’ve seen Vijay Mallya’s episode of Bad Boy Billionaires, you may have realised how truly colourful his life still continues to be. He might be among the most notorious Indians across the world, but there’s no limit to the ups and downs that make the King of Good Times. From multiplying his father’s assets and income several-fold to the lows of not paying his employees, we will seldom get a more compelling riches-to-more riches-to-rags story.
Now, imagine Mohanlal playing this character that’s a very dark shade of grey. He can summon his inner Vincent Gomes and a dozen other characters he aced with his inherent darkness. As long as he stays away from the wardrobe he used in Confident Cassanova, the project looks promising. Isn’t he his own King of Good Times anyway?