Panga, Lagaan, Iqbal, Sultan: 20 sports dramas that are not biopics

Updated: 26 January, 2020 08:33 IST | Anshul Vipat
  • Love Marriage

    Love Marriage (1959): In the midst of romance, crime, horror, comedy, and thrillers, Bollywood has kept the sports genre in the backseat. In the vintage era, we had innumerable films on almost every genre, but there were only a few films dedicated to the spirit of sports and sportsmanship. Dev Anand and Mala Sinha-starrer Love Marriage, released in 1959, was one of the first sports films of India. Dev Anand played the role of a budding cricketer who loses interest in cricket after he meets his love interest. The film also had a special appearance by Helen, with music by Shankar Jaikishan.

  • All Rounder

    All Rounder (1984): India's World Cup victory in 1983 opened the floodgates of sports films. The next year, we saw a sea of sports films. All-rounder, starring Kumar Gaurav was one among them. Ajay (Gaurav) is a star cricketer, thanks to the constant encouragement by his brother Birju (Vinod Mehra). His rise to fame creates many enemies who successfully manage to malign his reputation, and in turn, his career. A determined Ajay decides to make a stunning comeback.

  • Boxer

    Boxer (1984): Dharma (Danny Denzongpa), a boxer, loses a fight that takes away his job and reputation. He turns to alcohol and starts ignoring his wife (Tanuja) and son Shankar (Mithun Chakraborty). Shankar is forced to beg, borrow and steal to make ends meet. A jail term changes his life, and now a determined Shankar challenges the reigning Champion Raghu Raj (Sharat Saxena) in a boxing bout to regain his reputation. Boxer's music was given by RD Burman and marked the early days of then-struggling Kavita Krishnamurthy as a playback singer.

  • Hip Hip Hurray

    Hip Hip Hurray (1984): This was the directorial debut of Prakash Jha before he moved on to political dramas. Hip Hip Hurray was the story of a computer engineer named Sandeep Chowdhary (Raj Kiran) who works as a sports instructor in a boarding school. He falls in love with a history teacher named Anuradha Roy (Deepti Naval). However, things take a turn, and Raj soon finds himself as the captain of the football team, who has to win the tournament to prove his worth.

  • Awwal Number

    Awwal Number (1990): We know you are eagerly waiting for Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. But you need to wait a little as we bring you Awaal Number, released a year before that, that starred Aamir Khan as a sportsman. Awwal Number was Aamir's "only film that he signed without reading the script". And the reason was his respect for the film's director Dev Anand. The film revolved around Ronny (Aditya Pancholi) trying to take revenge on budding cricketer Sunny (Aamir Khan) who has replaced him in the Indian cricket team. The film also starred Dev Anand, Bharat Bhushan, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Aftab Shivdasani as a child actor.

  • Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

    Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992): Okay, the wait is over. Here's presenting the ultimate sports film of India - Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. This sports drama, revolving around an inter-collegiate sports championship is interestingly presented with a perfect blend of family, friendship, and romance. A carefree youngster Aamir Khan has to transform himself into a responsible guy to replace his elder brother in the ultimate cycle race. Winning the race is the only option left for him. The film is best remembered for its evergreen songs, thanks to the brilliance of Jatin Lalit.

  • Lagaan

    Lagaan (2001): JJWS might be one of the first commercial sports dramas, but it wasn't until Lagaan that sports films began gaining traction again in Hindi cinema. The Oscar-nominated film centred around a small village whose inhabitants have to win a cricket match against British officers in order to cancel the taxes (Lagaan). Aamir Khan, the leader of the team has to gather a group of people who are nothing but beginners in cricket. Lagaan received worldwide critical acclaim and grabbed eight National Film Awards, nine Filmfare Awards, and an Oscar nomination. The evergreen music by A.R Rahman with lyrics by Javed Akhtar was the feather on the cap for the audience.

  • Iqbal

    Iqbal (2005): This film is called Shreyas Talpade's finest film till date, and rightly so. Iqbal devoted to an often ignored aspect of cricket called bowling had all the ingredients that even those not interested in the game found it simply irresistible. The film follows the struggle of a cricket-obsessed deaf and mute boy Iqbal (Shreyas Talpade) who tries to fulfil his dream of playing for the Indian national cricket team. He is religiously coached by a former cricketer played by Naseeruddin Shah. Iqbal gave Shreyas his maiden National Award for Best Actor. Apart from his fine acting, and impressive storyline, Iqbal is also remembered for its songs, with the ever-inspiring track Aashayein, sung by KK, ranking on the top.

  • Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal

    Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007): From the small towns and villages, Vivek Agnihotri took us in the bylanes of Southall, a predominately South Asian part of London. The film follows the story of The Southhall United Football Club's (consisting of players like John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, with Boman Irani as the coach) journey to win the football championship. Although the film received a positive response from the critics, Goal was only moderately successful at the box-office.

  • Ta Ra Rum Pum

    Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007): Apart from cricket, football, and hockey, Bollywood has often been accused of neglecting other sports. Ta Ra Rum Pum is one notable exception. The Saif Ali Khan and Rain Mukerji-starrer is based on car racing. Rajveer Singh (Saif Ali Khan) is a successful car racer, winning 50 races and is happily married to Shona (Rani Mukerji) and has two cute kids. Tragedy strikes Rajveer's life, knocking him out of the race track. Rajveer has to fight back and overcome his fear of getting hurt to ensure his survival. Ta Ra Rum Pum was one of the highest-grossing films of 2007.

  • Apne

    Apne (2007): From football and racing, we move on to wrestling. Apne, our third film of 2007 is the story of disgraced ex-boxer Baldev Chaudhary (Dharmendra) who tries to redeem his tainted boxing career through his sons Angad and Karan (Sunny and Bobby Deol). With supporting roles by Katrina Kaif, Shilpa Shetty and Kirron Kher, Apne opened to an excellent response across India and emerged as a hit overseas as well. Apne was also the first film to feature Dharmendra and his real-life sons Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol together. The father-son duo was again featured three years later in Yamla Pagla Deewana.

  • Patiala House

    Patiala House (2011): Okay, let's move back to cricket. Just like Iqbal, Patiala House also centres around an exceptional bowler (Akshay Kumar) who has to choose between the rules set by his father Gurtej Singh Kahlon (Rishi Kapoor) and his career. And just like Goal, Patiala House too is set in Southall, London. The movie is notable for guest appearances by a number of cricketers including Naseer Hussain, Andrew Symonds, Kieron Pollard, Herschelle Gibbs, and Sanjay Manjrekar.

  • Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii

    Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii (2007): The 2007 film was all about cricket, cricket, and cricket. Thirteen-year-old boy Karan lays his hands on a magic bat that enables him to play for the Indian cricket team. He is effectively aided by team's captain Varun (Rahul Bose). However, on the day of a match, Karan is dejected to find out that his bat has been destroyed. However, Varun makes him realise that the bat was in fact just an ordinary bat, and it was his talent that holds the magic. With Karan's help, India wins that match.

  • Striker

    Striker (2010): Striker showed Bollywood that there is a world beyond cricket and racing. Striker, featuring Siddharth in lead with supporting roles by Aditya Pancholi, Ankur Vikal, Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas, and Anup Soni centred around carrom. Suryakant (Sidharth) is a star carrom player and winner of Junior Carrom Championship. But his hopes for a job in Dubai replace the passion for carrom. In between, he clashes with Jaleel, a local crime boss, played by Aditya Pancholi.

  • Hawaa Hawaai

    Hawaa Hawaai (2014): The light-hearted film was based on skating. The story revolved around young child Arjun Harishchand Waghmare (Partho Gupte) and his journey towards becoming a champion skater. He is effectively aided by his coach Aniket Bhargava, played by Saqib Saleem. Hawaa Hawaai got mostly positive reviews from critics.

  • Brothers

    Brothers (2015): This sports drama film featuring Akshay Kumar and Siddharth Malhotra was based on Mixed Martial arts (MMA). The official remake of Hollywood film Warrior, Brothers was the story of two estranged half-brothers David and Monty, who are trained in mixed martial arts after losing their livelihoods. However, the two have to compete against each other in the final tournament. The film was a box office hit and minted over Rs 140 crore at the box office.

  • Saala Khadoos

    Saala Khadoos (2016): The R Madhavan-starrer is touted to be one of the best boxing movies of India. R Madhavan, a boxer who despite being very talented, falls victim to the dirty politics that leaves him angry and frustrated. He manages to find talent in a roadside fish seller (Ritika Singh) and offers to train her. His ruthless training methods are initially not appreciated, but the two later find themselves on good terms. The story then moves in the arena of World Boxing Championship where Ritika manages to cross all hurdles and clinch victory. Saala Khadoos received widespread critical acclaim.

  • Sultan

    Sultan (2016): One of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time, Sultan focused on Sultan Ali Khan (Salman Khan), a pehlwani wrestler and former world wrestling champion from Haryana whose successful career has created a rift in his love life (Anushka Sharma played the role of his lady love). Released in July 2016, Sultan grossed over Rs 600 crore worldwide, entering into the top five list of highest-grossing Indian films.

  • Mukkabaaz

    Mukkabaaz (2017): Mukkabaaz marked the entry of Anurag Kashyap in the sports-genre. The film followed the life of Shravan Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh), a successful boxer, who has to choose between his dream and his love Sunaina (Zoya Hussain). The film also starred Jimmy Sheirgill, Ravi Kishan and Rajesh Tailang in pivotal roles. Mukkabaaz was a critical success but failed at the box office.

  • Panga

    Panga (2020): The latest in the list is Panga. Panga, directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, the filmmaker behind Bareilly Ki Barfi and Nil Battey Sannata, is the story of a woman (Kangana Ranaut) who decides to return to the Kabaddi ground after marriage and motherhood. Ranaut refuses to succumb to family or societal pressures and decides to give her Kabaddi career another shot, and that too at the age of 32. The question is, will she be successful? Panga has two other fantastic actors - Neena Gupta and Richa Chadha - and released on January 24.

  • loading...

About The Gallery

Over the years, Bollywood has managed to churn out a number of sports dramas. But each film has a different world in itself. Have you ever thought about what is the difference between Sultan and Dangal? or Lagaan and Chak De India? or MS Dhoni and Iqbal? As Kangana Ranaut's Panga has just released, we bring you some sports classic that are not biopics. (All pictures: Twitter/Instagram/Youtube screenshots and mid-day archives) 

First Published: 26 January, 2020 08:11 IST