The film industry has always had a penchant in bringing real life stories onto the celluloid and Bollywood has not been one to lag behind on that trend. Directors have taken inspiration from many true incidents and tried to portray the same in a 2-hour motion picture format with added twists, emotions and drama.
If you are a movie buff, you would love watching the intricate plots of these movies, marveling at the fact that they have been inspired by an actual event/s. We bring to you 20 such awesome Hindi movies based on true stories.
1) Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
This biographical sports drama film is based on the life of Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete who was an Olympian and national champion sprinter. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, it is a must watch for all the sports fanatics out there. Not to mention Farhan Akhtar’s to-die-for body as he portrays the ‘Flying Sikh’ in the movie.
2) Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990)
From the ‘90s era, comes this award-winning film by famous director Tapan Sinha. Ek Doctor Ki Maut depicts the life of a doctor, who instead of being recognized, gets reprimanded and insulted for his research.
The movie revolves around the life of Dr. Dipankar Roy, an insignificant junior doctor who discovers a vaccine for leprosy. Ek Doctor Ki Maut is loosely based on the life of Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay.
3) Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
Based on the life of an Indian army soldier who was also an athlete and a rebel, this movie stars Irfan Khan playing the titular role of Paan Singh Tomar. He was a 7-time national steeplechase champion and represented India at the 1958 Asian Games.
He later gained disrepute after he became a bandit because of a land feud and family issues.
4) Bandit Queen (1994)
If you haven’t heard of this one, then you probably have been living under a rock. Directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Seema Biswas, this controversial Indian biographical film is based on the life of Phoolan Devi, who was a dreaded dacoit turned politician.
She had all the drama in her life, from being sent to prison to being persecuted by the Indian police and finally entering politics and being assassinated in 2001.
5) Shahid (2013)
This movie revolves around a lawyer and human rights activist with an extraordinary commitment to justice who was assassinated in 2010. After witnessing murders during the Bombay riots, Shahid runs away to Kashmir and is then arrested for alleged conspiracy to assassinate some politicians.
He starts on his law journey after he is released and starts fighting for Muslims wrongly arrested under POTA.
6) Sardar (1993)
Known as the ‘Iron Man of India’, the movie revolves around the political life of the famous freedom fighter, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Along with Mahatma Gandhi, he was instrumental in the process of India taking her first steps towards being an independent country. Paresh Rawal has done a phenomenal job as Sardar. If you are a true patriot at heart, then this movie should be part of your must-watch list!
7) Firaaq (2008)
This is one of the very few movies based on a series of events and stories rather than just one incident. This political thriller showcases the life of people in Gujarat after the 2002 riots. The film is the directorial debut of Nandita Das and is said to be based on “a thousand true stories”. Garnering a lot of interest, this movie also won many awards including 2 National Film Awards. Not for the faint-hearted, though.
8) No One Killed Jessica (2011)
This story was doing the rounds on all news channels and newspapers not so long ago. Directed by Rajkumar Gupta, it is based on the true story of Jessica Lal, a model and restaurant worker who was shot by Siddharth Vashisht, better known as Manu Sharma who was the son of a wealthy, influential and intimidating politician. Being the close aide of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the chief minister of Haryana, Venod Sharma left no stone unturned to ensure his son got away from the clutches of the Indian judicial system. But owing to public outcry and widespread protest Manu was finally sentenced to life imprisonment.
9) Not a Love Story (2011)
This movie, though not a biopic, is loosely inspired by the gruesome murder of Neeraj Grover. Maria Susairaj, played by Mahie Gill, relocates to Mumbai to act in movies. This takes her away from her Chandigarh boyfriend. After many disappointments, she finally meets Neeraj who is able to bag her a role in a movie. They end up sleeping together and are caught unawares by her boyfriend who ends up killing Neeraj.
10) Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
This is one of the most ambitious gangster movies ever made and is probably one of the best. Directed by Anurag Kashyap and with sterling performances by Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi and Richa Chadha, this film has been critically acclaimed. This epic crime saga sprawls across 3 generations of revenge and violence. Considered to be a modern cult film, it doesn’t cease to fascinate its viewers at any point.
11) Border (1997)
An adaptation from real life events that happened at the battle of Longewala fought in Rajasthan, this movie stands fresh in our memory as the best ever patriotic war-based movie. Along with being bloody, the film boasts of evergreen music tracks with each character having a tale to tell. With the experience and talent of JP Dutta to back it up, the film doesn’t fail to tug at your heartstrings.
12) Black Friday (2007)
Another amazing directorial by Anurag Kashyap, this film recreated the 1993 Bombay bombings that left the city devastated and traumatised. The story of the film was taken from Hussain Zaidi’s novel, Black Friday: The True Story Of The Bombay Bomb Blasts.
Though controversial, it was commendable work by the cast and crew of the movie and received 4.5-star ratings from the critics. The cruelty of the bombing and how it wreaked havoc on people’s lives is amazingly covered.
13) Special 26 (2013)
With stellar performances by Akshay Kumar and Anupam Kher, this movie revolves around the 1987 Opera House heist, during which a group of thieves pretending to CBI officials executed an income tax raid on a jeweller in Mumbai.
With an eloquent and gratifying script to back it up, the movie garnered a box office collection of Rs. 66 crores and has been praised by critics. Make sure to add this one to your list if you haven’t done so already.
14) Madras Cafe (2013)
This movie probably has one of the most noteworthy performances by John Abraham. The Shoojit Sarkar-directed political thriller has won wide acclaim and is deserving of a watch. The movie depicts the Sri Lankan civil war and assassination of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
Though it gathered a certain amount of heat for venturing into uncharted waters, the movie was revolutionary or at the very least provocative.
15) Talvar (2015)
Amidst real life controversy and drama, this movie ventured boldly into the Aarushi Talwar’s murder case fiasco that took place in Noida. Along with having several conflicting theories the movie also brings to light the holes in our judicial system and makes a mockery of it.
With gripping performances by lead actors like Irrfan Khan and Konkona Sen-Sharma, the film is lauded for its writing and is a favourite with critics and audiences alike.
16) Airlift (2016)
He starts off as a selfish rich business tycoon but ends up being a saviour to millions. Akshay Kumar plays the lead role to perfection in the movie.
Based on the massive evacuation of Indians from Kuwait during the Saddam Hussain invasion of 1990, the movie plays with fiction and reality while focusing on important nuances and human emotions. The plot is racy and also brings out a certain amount of patriotism towards the end.
17) The Dirty Picture (2011)
Vidya Balan downright steals the show with her performance in this bold movie. It is based on the life of the ‘80s sex siren Silk Smitha, an empowered woman well aware of the power her assets wielded.
Fuelled by ambition, she goes to excruciating lengths to become famous. Naseeruddin Shah is hilarious in his role as superstar Surya and plays it to the gallery. Director Milan Luthria has complete control over the script and has explored it thoroughly. The focus on cleavage is mind boggling but a necessary evil!
18) Neerja (2016)
Full of tears and heartbreak, Sonam Kapoor actually makes you believe she is Neerja in this movie. It is based on the tragic story of Neerja Bhanot who died saving the lives of passengers on the Pan Am flight hijacked by terrorists in 1986. Along with being heroic, the movie also touches on family bonds and love. It is only when you realize that at the end you are actually applauding the courage of a real person that you begin to appreciate the making of this movie.
19) Parzania (2007)
Though bleak in its storytelling, the movie is rewarding and revealing in its subject matter. It shakes you to the core with its authenticity and social message. Inspired by a true story, the movie narrates the heartbreaking story of a Parsi family living in a Muslim colony in the state of Gujarat. The riots break out and the family loses their 10-year-old son. This movie gives you an insight into the scars left by communal riots.
20) Mary Kom (2014)
A page from the life of 5-time world boxing champion, Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom. The movie takes us through the life and hardships of Mary Kom and how she became a known name in the Indian households.
Priyanka Chopra, the lead actor, underwent extensive physical training for 3 months to attain a muscular physique and also trained for Kom’s distinct boxing style. Despite everything, the movie makes you root for Mary Kom, champion boxer, wife and mother.