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Biographical Films Made on Popular Personalities Including Victims, Comment

Cinema has played a quintessential part in the entertainment of people all around the globe. The silent films of Charlie Chaplin provided a gateway to the people affected by the world wars and the great depression in the first half of the 19th century. India too followed with Dadasaheb Phalke's silent film Raja Harishchandra, marking the birth of Indian Cinema in 1913 under the colonial rule.

Since then movies have evolved exceptionally not only in technology but also in content and genre. Over the years they have influenced people in many distinct ways, with the angry young man of the seventies and the love stories of the nineties the films have always been able to capture the prevailing popular culture. The past decade has seen a substantial increase in biographical movies in India. Although such movies have been popular in the west for quite some time but it was the international recognition of the progress of the nation which motivated Indian film industry to pay its homage to modern India's icons in the form of biographical movies. These movies celebrated the pride of India becoming an august nation of the world.

Biographical movies can be classified under different genres but they all portray the morals of life in a disambiguous manner. They all have varied effects on the vast audience.

Movies like Gandhi (1982) and Mandela: A long walk to freedom (2014) has been successful in portraying key civil right uprisings of the world led by the popular leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. These have enlightened the youth about the struggle of the world to reach the present modern stage and that these rights should be valued and put to use for the greater good and further development of the world.

There have been biographical movies on the life of sports personalities such as Milkha Singh and Mary Kom. Milkha Singh in Bhaag Mikha Bhaag played be Farhan Akhtar depicted the fluctuations in his life and how he went on to become the flying Sikh. On the other hand Mary Kom an Indian woman boxer who has won repeatedly the world boxing championship and an Olympic medal battled society and failure. These movies have a deep impact on the youth, by motivating them to dream big, work hard and passionately irrespective of the conditions or the customs.

On the contrary movies like Bandit Queen and Paan Singh Tomar have painted a different picture being victims of the evils of the society. Bandit Queen based on Phoolan Devi, a young woman who was deprived of her rights and sexually harassed falls into the trap of crime. And Paan Singh Tomar an Indian athlete in his day but later forced to sell his medals and resort to unlawful activities to sustain life. These depict with great disdain the negative aspects of the society and the story of the people on the side-lined by development.

All such movies do not necessarily have a positive impact. Sometimes these glamourize activities prohibited by the society and sway the youth in the wrong direction. The practices of alcoholism and smoking are often depicted in such movies and the youth resort to the same.

Biographical movies share the life experiences, achievement and mistakes of people from different walks of life. The youth of India touted to be the biggest powerhouse of the world can benefit from the mistakes of these men and women by gaining valuable life experience.

There are two sides to a coin and similarly there are films that depict the positive side and make the nation proud and there are those that remind us of the shortcomings of the system and society. All in all biographical films are a good source of entertainment, morals and values.

Jaideep Singh