The Hindi film industry has come a long, long way from depicting fairy tale romances against the backdrop of Swiss mountains or showing one man single-handedly beating twelve goons to death.
This is all thanks to a set of skillful storytellers and directors, who are diligently taking the onus of making films that will appeal to the evolved choices of a discerning audience.
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Interestingly, many of these films happen to be biopics about India’s unsung heroes—from the martyrs of the freedom movement to acid attack survivors.
Here’s a list of the capeless crusaders whose biopics are all set to release in 2020.
1. Sardar Udham Singh
Born in Punjab’s Sangrur district, Singh was brought up at an orphanage in Amritsar after losing his parents at an early age.
Singh was 20 years old when he witnessed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Scarred by the incident, he joined the armed resistance movement both inside and outside India. He travelled across America, East Africa to secure support for the Ghadar party and finally arrived in London intending to assassinate Michael Francis O’Dwyer, a key supporter of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
On the day of the meeting, Singh hid a revolver in his overcoat, sneaked into London’s Caxton hall and shot O’Dwyer twice as he moved from the platform after the meeting concluded. He did not try to flee when being taken into custody and accepted the death penalty on July 31, 1940.
Acclaimed director Shoojit Sircar’s upcoming movie ‘Sardar Udham Singh’ will see Vicky Kaushal portraying the martyr.
2. Captain Vikram Batra
On June 19, 1999, Captain Batra’s unit 13 J&K Rifles led a brilliant tactical assault which gave India the first step towards victory. On the night of July 7, for their next operation, Vikram and his men began their tortuous climb to fortify the Indian force which was already fighting the invaders at 16,000 feet.
Getting the news of his arrival, the Pakistan army intensified their firing, but Batra’s fierce counter-attack cornered them to retreat.
Batra was hit by a bullet in the chest shortly afterwards when he ran to rescue an injured junior officer and breathed his last on the war grounds.
He was christened as the ‘Sher Shah of Kargil,’ and a film with the same title is all slated to release in 2020. It stars actor Sidharth Malhotra in the role of Captain Vikram Batra.
3. Syed Abdul Rahim
This forgotten football coach, often hailed as the Father of Indian Football was the architect of Indian football’s ‘Golden Age’. It was under his able coaching and guidance that the Indian national football team cinched the Asian Games trophy in 1951 as well as 1962.
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, Rahim was a teacher by profession but a footballer by passion.
When he earned the coveted position of the coach of Hyderabad City Police football team, Rahim sought talents from the extreme grassroots level. His legendary skills on the field and exceptional management abilities soon propelled him to become the national team’s football coach in 1948.
In 1951, India hosted the first-ever Asian Games, where Rahim’s excellent coaching led the Indian team to triumph. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, India, under Rahim, became the first Asian country to beat Australia and reach the semi-finals. In the 1962 Asian Games, the winner was, once again, Rahim’s carefully curated Team India.
Rahim passed away a year later in 1963, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy.
In 2020, Ajay Devgn will be portraying the Syed Abdul Rahim, in the biopic titled Maidaan.
4. Gunjan Saxena
Gunjan Saxena was one of the first 25 young women who constituted the very first batch of women trainee pilots of Indian Air Force (IAF) and later became among the two women pilots selected to assist the Indian Army during the Kargil war.
Gunjan was tasked with emergency medical evacuations, supply drops, and tracking Pakistani bases in the war zone. Piloting her Cheetah helicopter, she hovered around extremely hostile territories to keep our Army safe.
Once, in a direct attack, the Pakistani Army fired a rocket at Gunjan’s chopper, which was positioned for take-off at the Kargil airstrip. Just about missing her chopper, the missile and crashed into the hillside behind her in a loud explosion.
Gunjan was later awarded the Shaurya Chakra, making her the first woman recipient of the coveted gallantry honour.
Starring Janhvi Kapoor in the lead, the film titled ‘Gunjan Saxena’ will tell the story of the brave pilot.
5. 2008 Mumbai Attacks
The Dev Patel and Anupam Kher-starrer movie is an action thriller directed by Anthony Maras, which aims to portray the trauma of 26/11 from the perspective of ordinary people, who showed immense courage and humanity in the face of a nightmare.
Interestingly, The Better India has time and again strived to bring out obscure stories of unsung heroes of the fateful night, whose bravery saved hundreds of lives. One such individual was Mallika Jagad, an erstwhile even manager at the Taj Hotel.
Barely 24-year-old at the time of the attack, Mallika kept her calm and evaded the hawk-eyed terrorists with her keen intellect, thereby protecting over 60 lives. The experience was traumatic for her indeed, but the individuals whom she saved hail her as their guardian angel.
Read her spine-chilling experience of the night, here.
6. Laxmi Agarwal
The lately-dropped Chhapaak trailer is garnering accolades from all over. Starring Deepika Padukone as protagonist Malti, the movie by Meghna Gulzar narrates the story of Laxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor.
Laxmi, who faced the gruesome attack as a minor from a man whose romantic advances she rejected, is today is a beacon of inspiration for everyone. Through her initiative Stop Acid Sale, she is striving to eradicate the menace at its root—by banning the open sale of acid in the market.
Her efforts have gone a long way in making stricter national laws on the sale and availability of acid, as well as in supporting thousands of acid attack survivors across the nation.
Last year, The Better India had shared Laxmi Agarwal’s story, which left an overwhelming impact on millions of readers. Here is the story of her traumatic assault and her rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)