If there is any freedom fighter whose biopic has been made umpteen times, it is India’s youngest martyred Shaheed Bhagat Singh who created havoc in the British empire and sacrificed his life for Bharatmata in the ’20s.
Thus decade after decade Bollywood has saluted this brave son of India. In fact, there have been a total of 7 films made on the film of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. These films are 1) Shaheed-e-Azad Bhagat Singh (1954) staring Prem Abid; 2) Shaheed Bhagat Singh (1963) starring Shammi Kapoor; 3) Shaheed (1965) starring Manoj Kumar; 4) Shaheed-E-Azam (2002) staring Sonu Sood; 5) The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002) starring Ajay Devgn 6) 23rd March 1931: Shaheed (2002) starring Bobby Deol and 7) Rang De Basanti (2006) with Siddharth Narayan as Bhagat Singh.
Though in India many films are made on the life of Mahatma Gandhi but it is sad to say that the best film has been Gandhi (1983) made by Hollywood director Richard Attenborough starring Ben Kingsley in the title role. The only saving grace is that actor Ben Kinsley, who played the lead role of Mahtma Gandhi has his origin in India and the film Gandhi was produced partially by India’s NFDC (National Film Development Corporation of India). Other films made on Gandhiji in India that are worth mentioning are Shyam Benegal‘s The Making of the Mahatma‘ actor Rajit Kapur played Gandhi. The latest film Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2007) propagating the ideology of Gandhi and Gandhi My Father (2007) depicting the family life of Mahatma Gandhi.
After Ben Kinsley the only Indian actor who played Mahtma Gandhi to perfection is Naseeruddin Shah in Kamal Haasan’s film Hey Ram. Interestingly, few may be aware that Naseeruddin Shah was the original choice for Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. Naseer even gave audition but was declined as Richard Attenborough wanted a British actor who can connect with foreign audience.
Filmmaker Ketan Mehta in 1993 made a good biopic on the iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Paresh Rawal suited the character to a perfect T. South superstar Mammootty played the role of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (2000) in the film by the same name. The film was directed by Marathi film stalwart film director Jabbar Patel and was a good film. The film was originally shot in English but was later dubbed in many Indian languages.
Shyam Benegal‘s (2004) Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero staring Marathi film star Sachin Khedekar was a gripping biopic. Rajkummar Rao recently played Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in a TV serial Bose: Dead or Alive (2017).
In 2005 Aamir Khan played freedom fighter Mangal Pandey in the film Mangal Pandey: The Rising. Though the film was well made it failed to succeed at the box office. Few another freedom fighter on whose life films were made include Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010) made on Surya Sen, the hero of Chittagong mutiny staring Abhishek Bachchan, Veer Savarkar (2001), etc.