Manikarnika, Thackeray, and the Troubled History of Bollywood Biopics

Bollywood

Manikarnika, Thackeray, and the Troubled History of Bollywood Biopics

Illustration: Arati Gujar

 

T

he New Year isn’t even a month old yet, and the Bollywood machine has already cranked out three biopics. The Accidental Prime Minister, where Anupam Kher plays an emperor penguin masquerading as Manmohan Singh, was the year’s first, and now we can look forward to the release of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, based on Rani Laxmibai, and Thackeray, which will attempt to tell the story of the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then making a biopic about someone comes a close second. Because Bollywood biopics have, at best, a testy relationship with reality. Fact might be stranger than fiction, but filmmakers can’t seem to resist embellishing the truth.

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