From real to reel: Reality inspires more Bollywood films
Be it gangster Manya Surve's death in a gunfight, "bikini killer" Charles Sobhraj's audacious jailbreak or the bloody 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, real-life incidents are finding their way on to reel, spurring Indian cinema's gradual move towards more realistic cinema
Filmmakers like Ram Gopal Varma, Sanjay Gupta and Anurag Kashyap have sought inspiration from notorious cases and incidents and tried to portray them on the big screen. After spotlighting corruption in police in his film "Department", Varma has started working on a film based on the 26/11(2008) Mumbai attacks, in which about 170 people were killed. The film went on floors in March this year.
Gupta's "Shootout at Wadala" starring John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Kangna Ranaut, Sonu Sood, Tusshar Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee, will chronicle Mumbai Police's first-ever registered shoot-out, in which Surve was shot dead. The incident took place in Wadala in 1982. Gupta says it is a challenge to recreate the bygone era.
"It is the most challenging film which I have shot till date. It covers the years 1978-81. Everything has changed, including Mumbai, and getting that right was a difficult task," he said. Gupta's film, however, bears a close link to reality as he has obtained permission to name the characters after the real-life policemen involved in the incident.
Meanwhile, director Kabeer Kaushik is gearing up for the release of "Maximum", set in Mumbai during the early 2000s, when the nexus between land mafia and politicians was at its height. It features Sonu Sood and Naseeruddin Shah in prominent roles. Sonu believes the increased number of crimes has propelled the use of real-life incidents in film scripts.
"There were times when people were making films on real subjects and real cinema, but later it faded out. Lately there is a lot of movement in our society, whether it is crime, scams; so filmmakers get more reasons or incidents to make films," Sonu told IANS. "People are running short of subjects, they don't have thousands of subjects; so they hunt for those topics and things that happen around us and they make films on these," he added.
Filmmaker Kumar Mangat is planning to bring Sobhraj's 1986 Tihar jailbreak saga on celluloid in "Jailbreak", while director Vivek Agnihotri's "Buddha in Traffic Jam" is also based on true incidents. Anurag Kashyap's two-part series "Gangs of Wasseypur" puts the spotlight on the coal and scrap trade mafia in Wasseypur in Jharkhand, and Zoa Morani-Imran Zahid-starrer "Marksheet" attempts to uncover the scams in India's education sector.
In the meantime, a number of filmmakers are toying with the idea of making a film on much publicised Bhanwari Devi case of Rajasthan, where a nurse, who had illicit relations with a government minister, was abducted and murdered. The films come as a difference from the regular Bollywood fare.
Acclaimed filmmaker Dibaker Banerjee, who has presented a hard-hitting account of corruption in the Indian political system in "Shanghai", says he is glad to see people opening up to "alternative cinema". "An alternative has opened up. Earlier people wanted an alternative, but it wasn't there. Now because of multiplexes, new studios and more money, because of economic liberalisation, people are willing to make fresh films," Banerjee told IANS.
Adds actress Neha Dhupia: "It is nice to see that we have some breakthrough directors who have come forward and are willing to make films. What's even better is that they have the support of the people, who have the money and people who have the talent." Earlier films like "No One Killed Jessica", "Not A Love Story", "Ragini MMS", "Monica", "Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey" and "Rakta Charitra" have also been inspired by real-life incidents.