Filmfare recommends: Recent Bollywood films based on real-life events

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Reality is said to be stranger than fiction. Hence, our filmmakers of late have been seeking inspiration from newspaper headlines and converting them into multi-crore extravaganzas. Films like Uri, Airlift or Raid may just be fictionalised accounts of the actual happenings but they do succeed giving a glimpse of what actually happened to the viewers. These massy versions may not be factually correct but carry emotional weight. We’re sure once this lockdown is over, there would be a spate of films set during the quarantine period. Here’s presenting a list of top films inspired by real-life events to help relieve your boredom during this lockdown.

Uri: The Surgical Strike

Director: Aditya Dhar
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Kirti Kulhari, Mohit Raina

On 18 September 2016, a fedayeen attack was made by four armed militants on an Indian army base near the town of Uri. Nineteen Indian Army soldiers were killed. On 29 September, eleven days after the Uri attack, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes against suspected militants in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. It was claimed that many terrorist launch pads inside the POK border were destroyed. And around 35-50 militants got killed in the raid. Uri: The Surgical Strike, gives a fictionalised version of the events. Vicky Kaushal and his team of specially trained commandos cross the border both via helicopter and on foot. They successfully infiltrate and not only destroy a number of terrorist camps but also manage to kill the main perpetrators of the Uri attack. The story is high on emotional connect. You get to see the personal side of a professional soldier and can relate to the sacrifices he gets to make while serving his country. Vicky Kaushal gave a restrained performance as a soldier bursting with patriotic fervour, who keeps a cool head to see the dangerous mission through.

Batla House (2019)

Real events, recent, Bollywood

Director: Nikhil Advani
Cast: John Abraham, Mrunal Thakur, Ravi Kishan, Rajesh Sharma

John Abraham plays DCP Sanjay Kumar who leads the encounter against terrorists suspected to have been hidden inside Batla House. He successfully terminates them but is later suspected of doctoring a take encounter. How he fights to clear his name forms the crux of the film. The film is based on the infamous Batla House encounter case which took place on September 19, 2008. Encounter specialist Delhi Police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma lost his life in the line of duty. He was later awarded India’s highest peacetime military decoration, the Ashoka Chakra on 26 January 2009. Various human rights groups alleged that the police carried out a fake encounter but later the National Human Rights Commission, as well as the judiciary, cleared the police of all charges. Various political parties tried to derive political mileage from the whole thing. Sanjeev Kumar Yadav (changed to Sanjay in the film) is a real person and one of the most highly decorated police officers in the country, winner of nine Presidential medals. The film does try to portray how the police are pressured from all sides while dealing with high profile cases. It has also pointed out how ghettoisation of a certain community has made the police’s job harder.

Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran (2018)

Real events, recent, Bollywood

Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: John Abraham, Diana Penty, Boman Irani

India has always portrayed itself as a nation which rooted for peace than war. Despite testing a nuclear bomb in 1974, it seemingly abandoned its weapons programme under international pressure and supposedly concentrated on using nuclear energy through peaceful means. In 1995, American spy satellites caught on camera the preparations for another nuclear test and India was much condemned by the international community. Americans, in particular, came out hard on India. The testing was put in cold storage but under the radar, the army and a group of scientists were developing a plan to avoid detection by satellite. Parmanu is a fictionalised account of their journey. John’s character, Ashwath, is shown to be an honest IAS officer whose fool-proof plan was neglected by the powers to be in 1995. Three years later, he’s clandestinely approached by the government to rework his plan and how he executes it with the help of his chosen team forms the crux of the film. The film does have minor flaws and loose ends but you kind of gloss over them because of its emotional impact. India really shone during the time and you want to hold on to that hope, however fragile it may be, that we can achieve wonders if we came together as a nation.

Raid (2018)

Real events, recent, Bollywood

Director: Rajkumar Gupta
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Ileana D’Cruz, Saurabh Shukla, Amit Sial, Pushpa Joshi

According to reports, on July 16, 1981, the IT officials raided the house of a businessman and Congress MLA Sardar Inder Singh in Kanpur. 90 experienced officers under the leadership of the then Income Tax Commissioner of Lucknow, Sharda Prasad Pandey, carried out the longest IT raid recorded till date. Some 200 police personnel were said to be present there for the safety of the IT officials. Ajay Devgn plays Amay Patnaik, an income tax officer known for his integrity. He’s a stickler for rules and is someone who has been transferred for more times than he cares to count. He gets posted to Lucknow and fate brings him the biggest anonymous tip of his life on a platter. It’s so hot that it could bring down the empire of the local big shot politician, Rameshwar Singh (Saurabh Shukla) fondly known as Rajaji. He acts on his instincts and makes sure he has a cast-iron case before making his move. He’s thwarted initially in his efforts but later his source comes true even amidst the chaos and he’s able to perform his duties to the fullest, bringing in the richest haul from an IT raid of that era in the process. The film got praised for its stand-off scenes between Ajay Devgn and Saurabh Shukla.

The Ghazi Attack (1917)

Real events, recent, Bollywood

Director: Sankalp Reddy
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Atul Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon, Taapsee Pannu, Rahul Singh
Satyadev Kancharana

During the 1971 war, Pakistan reportedly deployed its best submarine PNS Ghazi to destroy India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. In order to fool the submarine, the Indian navy sent an old ship, INS Rajput as bait in order to dupe Ghazi. Rajput pretended to be Vikrant which sailed away to safety. It’s said the officials abroad Vikrant set depth charges upon sighting the submarine. Another version goes that it wasn’t able to successfully evade the mine; it itself had floated as a trap for Vikrant and went down as its torpedo caught fire. The film, though, gives a radically different version of the events. It shows that an S21 class Indian submarine commanded initially by Capt. Ranvijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) and later by Lt. Commander Arjun Varma (Rana Daggubati), has been sent to spy on Ghazi. Singh wants to attack it and his first mission fails narrowly. Ghazi gets alerted to their presence and there ensues an underwater cat-and-mouse chase where both the sides try to come on top. Despite his submarine being badly damaged, Arjun finally guides it to victory.

Airlift (2016)

Real events, recent, Bollywood

Director: Raja Krishna Menon
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Kumud Mishra, Prakash Belawadi, Inaamulhaq

Mathunny Mathews (popularly known as Toyota Sunny), was the brains behind the evacuation of Indian citizens from the war-hit Kuwait in 1990. He negotiated a plan with Iraqi transporters, Indian authorities and the UN to move all Indians to Amman via Baghdad and into refugee camps by buses. This meant 60 people per bus, around 200 buses and 10 trips per bus over 1,200 km one way; it was a logistical wonder but thankfully got completed without any major mishap. In the film, Akshay Kumar plays Ranjit Katyal, a Kuwait-based businessman with friends in high places. He considers himself more Kuwaiti than Indian and the film follows his internal journey as he grapples with the problem of conducting safe passage not only for his immediate family but also for the thousands stranded there because of the war. Nimrat plays his wife, Amrita, someone who is tired of her husband’s tycoon lifestyle and someone who comes to love him again when she witnesses the changes within him. The gritty recreation of the war zone — most of the film was shot in UAE and certain areas were recreated to look like 90s Kuwait — is the highlight of the film. The crowd scenes, as well as those of assault and arson, look real.

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