5 Indians who deserve a Film on Their Lives

Films made on real life people have been few and far in between in India, and the reasons for that are many, perhaps the biggest of them all is commercial. The spate of films made on Bhagat Singh did not do well, in fact the most successful Bhagat Singh movie could be Rang De Basanti. Guru too (based on Dhirubhai Ambani's life) was 'critically acclaimed' (so as to say) but wasn't exactly the highest grossing movie of the month.

And then there is the 'reverence' factor, it took a Brit director to come and make a movie on Mahatma Gandhi before our own film industry geared into action and started churning out movies about the Mahatma

Although I consider this film to be the best when it comes to depicting Mahatma
Plus, in many cases, like the one about the stalled movie about Pandit Nehru and Lady Mountbatten's relationship, it is the vicious Government that plays foul. Recently though there have been a couple of successful films based on real people, and there is a Milkha Singh movie in the works

Awesomeness hoped for
It has made me want to dig a bit into our Medieval and modern history in search of people who have till now been ignored by the powers that be in B-Town. Here is a small list of five who lead interesting lives and deserve to have it reproduced on the big screen.

5. JRD Tata




Although Jamsetji Tata has had perhaps the best 'Revenge is a Dish Best Served Large' story in corporate India, when he was denied entry into a hotel, he decided to make one himself, at a location that was then and still the most expensive piece of real estate in Bombay

Just a little place called The Taj Mahal Hotel
it is his nephew JRD Tata, whose almost 7 Decade life in the corporate world would translate excellently into film. Consider this - born of a Parsi father and a French mother, he spent his youth in Paris, and joined the French Foreign Legion, a French military unit (at a time when they had not become an easily surrendered force), and when he came to India, he was not handed the Tata legacy easily. At a very young age he went to work in the Tata Steel plant, and spent his spare time studying. While doing this, he also found time to become the first Indian to qualify as an Air Plane Pilot

He looked more James Bond than Howard Hughes
 Then due to a turn of events at a very young age of 34 he was asked to head Tata Sons. He did not balk under pressure, he created an empire out of the kingdom that Jamsetji built. He was instrumental in the formation of no less than 6 huge Tata companies (Tata Motors, Titan, TCS, Voltas, Tata Tea, Tata Communication) but his biggest contribution to the Indian industries would perhaps be the Tata Airlines (unfortunately now known as Air India), he was a pilot for his airline in his early days, he even took time off to take part in a competition of flying solo to Europe and back. He headed the airlines till 1978, and during his reign it was ranked as amongst the best in the world.

Unfortunately today it fights for survival.

JRD Tata had a tough stand against bribery, he refused to bend the law or find loopholes in it to ease his company's path. This alone could make it a gritty Man Against System story fit for films.

He remains kick-ass even after his death, he is buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery along with people like Balzac and Jim Morrison

Actor Best Suited to Play him




4. Khudiram Bose




Take a moment to think of what you were doing when you were 16 or 17. Perhaps you were preparing for some (in the long run) worthless entrance exam, or blaming your parents for your (till now) insignificant life, or generally being a grumpy teenager.

More than a hundred years ago there was a teenager in West Bengal who thought very differently. He was fed up of the British Government and he knew he had it in him to take on the might of the whole bloody British Empire. He joined a group of Freedom fighters at an early age, and his young life was packed with more adventure than most of us can hope of having in a life time.

When he was 16 he attacked Police Stations and Government officials, often successfully. However, his last mission ended in tragedy.

He, along with fellow Freedom fighter Praful Chaaki had decided to kill a British officer named Kingsford. They hid clandestinely in the town that Kingsford was with false names and studied his movements meticulously so that they could kill him at an opportune moment. They bombed his carriage, but unfortunately he wasn't travelling in it the fateful day and a lady and a kid got killed.

Both Khudiram and Praful fled separately but they were caught eventually. Praful Chaaki killed himself instead of letting the Britishers catch him while Khudiram was sentenced to to death by hanging. By all records, he embraced martyrdom cheerfully, smiling till the very end.

It is widely believed that Khudiram was the spark that ignited an era of fiery nationalism, and perhaps it is true. This almost obscured freedom fighter too needs to be revered and needs to be immortalized on celluloid.

Actor who should play him




3. Guru Dutt




What is a film maker doing in a list that has an industrialist and a freedom fighter? But then, we are talking of motion pictures here, and they deserve some representation. And who better than the enigmatic Guru Dutt, to have his story told in moving images.

Like the photograph above, Guru Dutt created a mystique about him, that of a passionate auteur who had stepped so far into the character that he did not know when to step back and yell 'CUT'. Much of his life reflected in two of his most famous movies, 'Pyasa' and 'Kagaz Ke Phool', and it is said that it was his failed marriage, his unrequited love for Waheeda Rahman and the disappointment of the box office records of Kagaz ke Phool that broke him, and lead him to commit suicide.

However, that would be just an Off-The-Surface view of the doomed film maker. A lot is not yet known about him, and perhaps can never be. What exactly drove him to become an alcoholic? Why did he try to excel in films but decide to destroy his 'other life'? He is a lot like Bob Dylan, of whom it is said 'the closer you get to knowing about him, the farther you get from knowing about him'. It would be interesting if someone with a passion for the works of the great director dwelves into his other life too, and comes out with something memorable.

But then, this wasn't a director who made only intense films about brooding heroes, he has made the delightfully noirish Baazi, the crime caper CID, the light hearted Mr and Mrs 55. His films do not tell all his tales, although they do tell unique and interesting stories. And it wasn't just his scripts, Guru Dutt's techniques in preparing his visuals and his direction are enough to act as a film school for any aspiring director.

If there is a film made on him, it would compulsorily mention of this extraordinary gentlemen who was given his screen name and a break by him


No film of his was complete without a role for one of his best friends (on and off screen), Mr Badruddin Qazi. It is to Guru Dutt's credit that Johnny Walker had a song reserved for him in all his movies, think 'Ye hai Bombay Meri Jaan'  or 'Jaane kahan Mera Jigar gaya ji' or 'Sar jo tera chakraye', all of them were songs in movies made by Guru Dutt.

His death is still in the hazy borders of suicide/accident, and no one knows for sure, why such a brilliant film maker died alone in a cocktail of medicines and alcohol. But we do know that he greatly enriched Indian Films.

Actor Who Should Play Him


Although I already had him in mind, some film magazine saved me the trouble


PS - There exists a very good visual tribute to Guru Dutt, and surprisingly it comes from the other side of the border. If you have not seen This video, please do



2. Asaf-Ud-Dowlah


If you ask 'Who?' then I kind of pity you. This gentleman was one of the most colorful characters of Indian Medieval history, he was the Nawab of Oudh from 1775-1797. He was the main driving force behind Awadhi architecture, and commissioned such grand monuments such as the Bara Imambara and the Rumi Darwaza (literally meaning 'Roman Door', similar to a gate in faraway Istambul).


He was one of those rulers who liked the simpler things in life, good food, plenty to drink, art, music, and of course the occasional cock-fight. He really was a that fabled 'Jolly good fellow' because unlike others of his ilk (including his father before him) he did not really care for annexing other kingdoms, or in indulging in the long and drawn out processes of waging war. However, he was not a Nero type of ruler. He believed in generously giving to the people, and not caring about how much money he spent as long as it was for the benefit of his subjects. In fact, way before Western Economics came up with fancy terms like 'fiscal economy', Asaf Ud Dowlah was already putting it into practice.

The story goes that once there was a disastrous drought in the region of Awadh, and this lead to both the working class and the noblemen coming to his court and asking for help. He promised to give them money, but not without extracting work out of them. He employed the working class to construct a building, and engaged the noblemen to break parts of the under-construction building from time to time (because these noblemen had NO constructive skill set to speak off). He continued this until the famine ended, and the result of his fiscal efforts is presently the most famous monument in Lucknow


A light-hearted movie about an abnormally good natured ruler can be made out of the life of Asaf Ud Dowlah, I am sure that research (and literally licence) would reveal/add many comic instances to his life. This was a ruler who ruled differently, he is still revered in Lucknow where there is a famous saying 'Jisko Na De Maula, Usko De Asaf Ud Dowlah'


The time of 'Epic' movies or 'Period films' has passed in India, even Jodha Akbar was a 'declared' hit, I don't know whether it actually recovered its money. Costume dramas hardly succeed these days, perhaps these things would pose a challenge to a film (if ever) being made on him, however, in the fittur of my mind, this great man's life is block buster material.

Actor who should play him


He already HAS the figure, and he has shown that he can play Any character



1. Hari Singh Nalwa




We do not need to look to 'Haaliwud' for War Romances, we have enough exemplary warriors from our own history who would do well to have a film made on their life. I often wonder, why do we have sad and bad films on fictional warriors like 'Veer' and 'Kisna : Warrior Poet' (warrior poet, Vivek Oberoi? Are you fucking kidding me?) when we have real life soldiers like Hari Singh Nalwa.

To start off, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa's nickname was 'Baaghmaar' (Tiger-Killer), and it was not a cool name he decided to give himself, he earned it when he iced a Tiger who was foolish enough to attack him. Legend is that he sent the tiger off to Tiger-Heaven/Hell with his bare hands. Knowing whatever little of his life that I know, I have no trouble in believing this legend.

An artist's depiction
Hari Singh Nalwa was a General in the Sikh Empire. He fought 7 (at least) successful battles over a period of around 30 years in which he greatly expanded the Sikh kingdom to include Kasur, Multan, Sialkot, Kashmir etc, he also conquered Peshawar without having to actually fight. While he was the General, the Sikh Empire covered a large part of Afghanistan too.

In fact, this brings us to how Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa is already part of our pop-cultural history. The story goes that he was so greatly feared in Afghanistan that in Western Afghani tribes mothers used to scare their children into sleeping by saying 'Sleep, otherwise Hari Singh will come' (Does that ring a Bell?)

Also, he is mentioned in the song 'Mere Desh Ki Dharti' in the line 'Rang Haraa Hari Singh Nalwe Se'

Why has there been no movie on him yet? While a considerable section of Indian film going audience prefers to watch western War costume dramas like Gladiator, 300, Troy etc, why can't we make an awesome movie about a man who was one of the best Military generals that the subcontinent has had.

Actor Who Should Play Him


The first instinct says 'Sunny Deol', but somehow he does not seem to fit. It could be Akshay Kumar because he has an active interest in promoting Sikh culture, but for that he would need to get out of the rut that he has made for himself, and portray a Warrior with a flair for commanding an army and winning wars.


Note : There are many more from our history who need to be immortalized on film, hence I would revisit this theme again some time later

7 comments:

{ evil@snipe } at: April 29, 2012 at 8:14 PM said...

the fucking bollywood pricks will never make a movie on positive side of a sikh warrior all they want to do is make fun of sikhs and earn the fucking money.. the only reason i hate bollywood

{ evil@snipe } at: April 29, 2012 at 8:16 PM said...

and i would say the best actor to play hari singh must be someone who can really understand how cool and brave he was.. not how comedian he was this is a serious role and sunny deol will troll this role by his stupid comedy(blinking eyes and randomly staring thing, he does)

{ Vivek N } at: May 17, 2012 at 9:34 AM said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi

This would be a good one...

Sardar apne ad pe aa jaaye to sabki mummy daddy ek kar deta hai

{ Shekko } at: August 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM said...

We will be making a movie on Sikh warriors soon - US based Hollywood production with Indian staff and location shoots. However, no Khalistani affirs or ideas will be tolerated. This is strictly Hindu + Sikh + global tolerance movie showing the sacrifice and might of Sikhs.

The movie will be a 300 version of Sikhs facing an army 10000 strong (pathans) and fighting to last man yet defending their fort until Nalwa's forces arrive to defeat the pathan charge.

All actors will be played by handsome and well built, khalsa trained Indian sikhs or others.
The fighting scenes will be part CGI and part real actors - we have hired 1000 trained sikhs, jats & Rajputs as well as rented entire Indian army ceremonial cavalry guards (President's Guards) for the fights and movie sequences.

Sikh army will consist of infantry medium armoured, linesmen, light scout cavalry, heavy cavalry, heavy artillery on camel backs, and huge seige "turkish" canons carried behind elephants in carts.

Hari Singl Nalawa character will be played by veteran actor Kabir Bedi.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh cameo role played by KPS Gill ( yes he will be acting in the movie)

rest actors are secrets - wait for our press release this winter.

this is a reliance production

{ Shekko } at: August 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM said...

We will be making a movie on Sikh warriors soon - US based Hollywood production with Indian staff and location shoots. However, no Khalistani affirs or ideas will be tolerated. This is strictly Hindu + Sikh + global tolerance movie showing the sacrifice and might of Sikhs.

The movie will be a 300 version of Sikhs facing an army 10000 strong (pathans) and fighting to last man yet defending their fort until Nalwa's forces arrive to defeat the pathan charge.

All actors will be played by handsome and well built, khalsa trained Indian sikhs or others.
The fighting scenes will be part CGI and part real actors - we have hired 1000 trained sikhs, jats & Rajputs as well as rented entire Indian army ceremonial cavalry guards (President's Guards) for the fights and movie sequences.

Sikh army will consist of infantry medium armoured, linesmen, light scout cavalry, heavy cavalry, heavy artillery on camel backs, and huge seige "turkish" canons carried behind elephants in carts.

Hari Singl Nalawa character will be played by veteran actor Kabir Bedi.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh cameo role played by KPS Gill ( yes he will be acting in the movie)

rest actors are secrets - wait for our press release this winter.

this is a reliance production

{ Raj Solanki } at: February 10, 2015 at 11:03 PM said...

Thank you very much for the informative article. I love the post.
Corporate film making in Indore

{ Katyayan gaurang Brahmavarti Kanyakubj } at: November 5, 2015 at 3:01 AM said...

nice article... hope bollywood listens to you

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