12 Bollywood Biopics to Watch if you Loved ‘Srikanth’

DESIblitz presents 12 enthralling Bollywood biopics for ‘Srikanth’ fans which are filled with unique sagas about real-life figures.

12 Bollywood Biopics to Watch if you Loved 'Srikanth' - f

"They should tell more stories like this."

In the glamorous world of Bollywood, biopics are a genre of film that is hugely popular.

Fans find it extremely exciting when an influential or historic figure is brought to life by their favourite actors on celluloid.

These films can transform into gripping dramas, gentile romances, or opulent historical period movies.

For those who loved Rajkummar Rao’s captivating film Srikanth (2024), there will perhaps be a hunger to consume more material that narrates the life of a famous individual.

Join us as we take you on a thrilling journey that introduces you to 12 compelling Bollywood biopics.

Asoka (2001)


Director: Santosh Sivan
Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Danny Denzongpa

In one of Shah Rukh Khan’s first period films, the superstar inhabits the world of Samraat Asoka.

He encapsulates the character of the troubled king, finding an anchor in a vivacious Kareena Kapoor Khan. (Kaurwaki).

A scene where Asoka offers water to a dying man, only for the civilian to swat it away and smear the king’s face in his blood is a testament to SRK’s acting chops.

The king embarks on an arc of character change that includes selfishness, remorse, and self-discovery.

A voiceover at the beginning of the film says: “[This film] attempts to follow Asoka’s journey.”

This attempt certainly paid off well. The result is a sterling film of epic proportions.

It transports the audience to a world of grandeur intertwined with humanity.

Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)


Director: Ketan Mehta
Stars: Aamir Khan, Toby Stephens, Rani Mukerji, Ameesha Patel

Mangal Pandey: The Rising sees a moustache-clad Aamir Khan take on the role of the titular freedom fighter.

Set in the 1850s, Mangal Pandey fights against the British Empire.

However, amongst the painful battle and scarring wounds, this biopic is enhanced with romance.

Aamir develops infectious onscreen chemistry with Rani Mukerji (Heera).

Meanwhile, Ameesha Patel and Toby Stephens take care of some heavy lifting via their respective roles of Jwala and Capt. William Gordon.

A review of the film on Seldonp38 praises Aamir’s performance:

“[Aamir]  did an excellent job of developing Mangal Pandey’s character from the loyal sepoy who seemed to be satisfied with his life, to the embittered rebel whose actions instigated a major uprising.

“Khan conveyed this development with great skill and very expressive eyes.”

The chartbuster ‘Mangal Mangal‘ embodies the tenacious spirit of Mangal Pandey, giving the viewer goosebumps.

Mangal Pandey: The Rising is a biopic which rises above expectations.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)


Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Stars: Farhan Akhtar, Divya Dutta, Meesha Shafi, Pavan Malhotra

Milkha Singh – known as ‘The Flying Sikh’ – is renowned as one of India’s greatest sportsmen.

His athletic prowess serves as an inspiration for millions.

Farhan Akhtar takes on the challenge to play him in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Milkha harbours a dream of breaking a 400 m world record in running.

Lisa Tsering from The Hollywood Reporter writes positively about Farhan’s rousing portrayal:

“Akhtar has captured a sense of focus and piety that led Singh to rise from his humble beginnings as a post-Partition refugee and small-time crook to national champion.”

Adding kind words about director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Lisa continues:

“With Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, [Rakeysh] takes no shortcuts in depicting the literal blood, sweat and tears Singh shed in his pursuit of excellence.

“That is a patriotic message that is exhilarating indeed.”

Mary Kom (2014)


Director: Omung Kumar
Stars: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Darshan Kumaar, Sunil Thapa

Continuing with sports biopics, Mary Kom is an ode to boxing and female empowerment.

The talented Priyanka Chopra Jonas stars as Mangte ‘Mary’ Chungeijang Kom.

Mary is the daughter of a rice farmer.

Her humble beginnings put her achievements into perspective.

Her passion lies in boxing but she is forced to give up her career when she becomes a mother.

She later goes on to win the 2008 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

After a near defeat, Mary fights back and ultimately wins, earning the title of ‘Magnificent Mary’.

A review of Mary Kom by Kiva Ashby talks about the uplifting spirit derived from the feminism in the film:

“This film is a great example of what true feminism is.

“Mary is a woman.  And I mean woman with a capital ‘W’.

“She is beautiful, she has ambitions and she has dreams.

“She is sexy and vulnerable, strong and weak.

“And the men that surround her allow her and encourage her to be all of the above.

“Her husband for example was her biggest fan.”

If one wants to see a classic biopic that generates drama inside the ring, Mary Kom is a great choice.

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)


Director: Neeraj Pandey
Stars: Sushant Singh Rajput, Disha Patani, Kiara Advani, Anupam Kher

Based on the life of T20I captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, MS Dhoni is Sushant Singh Rajput at his very best.

The film tells the story of Dhoni’s rise from a ticket collector at Kharagpur Station to a legendary connoisseur of cricket.

Ambition runs in Dhoni’s veins like water through a stream. It is this ambition that propels him to win the finals for India, by hitting a six.

After Sushant tragically died in 2020, Amitabh Bachchan paid tribute to him on his blog.

About the film, Amitabh wrote:

“The film was dressed with remarkable moments of his performance, but three of the moments ever remained with me as an observer.

“They were done with such casual conviction that it would be difficult for an analyst of some credibility, to either notice it,  or give attention to its bearing.

“I asked [Sushant] how did he manage to give that iconic shot of Dhoni hitting a six winning the International tournament, to absolute perfection.

“He said he saw that video of Dhoni a hundred times!

“That was the severity of his professional effort.”

This effort is evident in every frame in MS Dhoni. 

The chartbuster ‘Parwah Nahin’ is also one of the most iconic Bollywood sports songs.

MS Dhoni is truly one of the greatest Bollywood biopics.

Dangal (2016)


Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Stars: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar

Before Nitesh Tiwari’s amazing film Dangal, little was known about the inspiring flame that was lit by wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat.

Set in Haryana, the film narrates the story of Mahavir (Aamir Khan).

It also includes the journey of his two elder daughters Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh/Zaira Wasim) and Babita Phogat (Sanya Malhotra/Suhani Bhatnagar).

The film is not only a testament to wrestling, but it also tackles the issue of inequality between boys and women.

Mahavir is desperate to have his offspring win a gold wrestling medal for India – something that he couldn’t achieve due to financial issues.

He is disappointed when his wife Daya Shobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) gives birth to four daughters, as he believes that only boys possess the physical stamina that is required for his dream.

However, when Mahavir realises that his daughters have potential, he trains them relentlessly in the sport.

The theme of equality is highlighted when Mahavir says: “Gold is gold, whether a boy or a girl wins it.”

Mahavir defies the gawking of the townspeople, financial woes, and unethical coaches. He creates two of India’s most iconic female wrestlers.

Geeta and Babita both went on to win gold medals in real life under the guidance of Mahavir.

Film critic Rajeev Masand says: “[Dangal] is a film that makes the heart swell when it isn’t pounding from all the excitement of the bouts.”

Sanju (2018)


Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Stars: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal

Bollywood fans across the globe love Sanjay Dutt. The star has been a firm fixture in the Indian film firmament for over 40 years.

Sanjay’s life has also been filled with controversy. He is a former drug user and he faced a 23-year ordeal with incarcerations and trials for possessing a rifle.

Naturally, intrigue was heightened when Rajkumar Hirani revealed that Ranbir Kapoor would be playing Sanjay in the latter’s biopic.

Sanju is an inspiring watch, exploring how Sanjay fought his drug and legal troubles.

Ranbir disappears into the character of Sanjay, nailing the superstar’s voice, mannerisms, walk, and laugh.

The film primarily focuses on Sanjay’s relationship with his father Balraj ‘Sunil’ Dutt (Paresh Rawal).

Dutt Sahab is the unwavering, supportive father, who has his son’s back in the most trying times.

Sanju also finds an incredible actor in Vicky Kaushal, who plays Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal ‘Kamli’ Kapasi – Sanjay’s best friend.

Strong performers adorn the film as capable actors including Dia Mirza and Manisha Koirala also imbibe the film with soul in smaller roles.

Ranbir delivers a career-defining performance – it won him the 2019 Filmfare Award for ‘Best Actor’.

When one talks about the biopics of cultural figures, Sanju soars high as one of the most inspiring, uplifting, and sensitive films made.

Super 30 (2019)


Director: Vikas Bahl
Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur, Nandish Sandhu, Virendra Saxena, Pankaj Tripathi

In Vikas Bahl’s Super 30, viewers have the opportunity to see Hrithik Roshan as a more grounded character.

Sporting a beard and a Bihari dialect, the Fighter actor has little starry charisma.

Hrithik plays the acclaimed mathematician Anand Kumar, who takes it upon himself to coach 30 underprivileged students for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-JEE) exams.

Anand employs creative, practical, and enthusiastic methods to teach his class, all of which result in a dramatic course of action.

The way in which Hrithik enacts Anand’s reaction to this is a masterclass in acting.

In real life, Anand Kumar felt that Hrithik was the only actor capable of doing justice to his story.

The intuition of the mathematician proves to be dead on.

Super 30‘s philosophy is underscored when Anand declares: “They always created potholes in our path.

“This was their biggest mistake as they taught us how to jump.”

The spirit of the film is its biggest strength.

Super 30 is a salute to the resilience of the Indian education system.

It shows that even the most daunting tasks can be achieved with the right attitude.

Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022)


Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Stars: Alia Bhatt, Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Ajay Devgn, Jim Sarbh

On a list that includes athletes, wrestlers, and actors, sex workers are probably not something one would immediately expect to find.

Alia Bhatt melds into the skin of Ganga ‘Gangubai’ Kathiawadi, a courtesan from Kamathipura, Mumbai.

She is a brothel madame and a female mafia don, which makes her a force to reckon with.

At the time Alia’s casting as Gangubai was announced, many felt the actress was too young to play the character.

However, the film makes them eat their words.

Gangubai Kathiawadi chronicles the eventful life of the titular character as she navigates her way through the profession of sex work.

She is unknowingly sold to a brothel as a teenager, but she then stands up for the rights of such women.

Gangubai’s speech in the film’s climax gives one goosebumps, as she demands respect for her profession.

She utters: “I am just as proud of being a sex worker as you are of being a doctor or a teacher.

“Be sure to write in tomorrow’s newspaper that Gangu spoke about her rights not with her eyes lowered, but rather by looking you in the eye.”

The ocean of applause that Gangu receives comes from both the onscreen audience and the cine-goers watching the movie.

Gangubai Kathiawadi is also noted for being one of the films to revive Indian cinema after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is certainly one of the most riveting Bollywood biopics.

Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway (2023)


Director: Ashima Chibber
Stars: Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattacharya, Neena Gupta, Jim Sarbh

This film is a hair-raising legal drama that sees Rani Mukerji lead the cast.

Rani plays Debika Chatterjee – a real-life mother whose children were unfairly taken away by Norwegian authorities in 2011.

To reunite with her kids, Debika undertakes a life-changing journey as she powers through the courts.

Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway also emboldens the importance of cultural diversity and is a tribute to motherhood.

Debika’s line that she often says is: “I give them milk.”

This is not inherently simply a nod to breastfeeding, but rather it signifies the uniqueness of a mother’s acts towards her children.

A scene in which the authorities snatch Debika’s kids away from her again simply for crying in front of them due to the joy of seeing them is painful and heart-wrenching.

Rani is the axis around which this film runs. She has the fierceness and passion of a strong-willed woman, but also the tenderness of a mother.

The film wasn’t watched massively in cinemas but ultimately gained its well-deserved viewership via its digital release.

Are you looking for an inspiring mother in biopics?

Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway is your best call.

12th Fail (2023)


Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Stars: Vikrant Massey, Medha Shankar, Anant V Joshi, Anshumaan Pushkar

Repeating the theme of education, we come to Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 12th Fail.

The film stars Vikrant Massey as Manoj Kumar Sharma, striving to pass his 12th-grade exams.

12th Fail encompasses cheating, labour, and educational challenges.

A gratifying romance is skillfully woven into the narrative in the form of Manoj’s love interest Shraddha Joshi (Medha Shankar).

Shraddha is the supportive rock for Manoj, whose determination knows no bounds.

12th Fail was a giant blockbuster that swept the Filmfare Awards in 2024.

It won ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Director’, and ‘Critics Best Actor’ for Vikrant.

Writing for Medium, Aruna Veerappan praises the change in the Bollywood hero image that is shown in the film:

“Our hero, who breaks through all the barriers and becomes an IPS officer, one of the highest positions in India.

“His determination, drive, and honesty help him reach his dream.

“It’s a simple story, but it feels so real and relatable.

“It is a nice change from the usual hero who’s all muscles and fights like a superhero.

“I think they should tell more stories like this, showing real people as heroes and inspiring the next generation.

“It’s rare to find a gem like this.

“If you haven’t watched 12th Fail yet, I highly recommend it. It’s definitely worth your time.”

Amar Singh Chamkila (2024)


Director: Imtiaz Ali
Stars: Diljit Dosanjh, Parineeti Chopra

Released on Netflix, Imtiaz Ali’s rousing drama chronicles the saga of Punjabi singers Amar Singh Chamkila and his wife Amarjot.

The titular musician is played by Diljit Dosanjh, while Parineeti Chopra stars as Amarjot.

An authentic aspect of this film is that Diljit and Parineeti both performed the duets themselves.

The Punjabi passion for music runs deep in Amar Singh Chamkila. 

Fans love the catchy melodies in the film and are devastated when the pair are assassinated.

Chamkila’s loyalty to his name is charming when he refuses to adopt a stage name.

The performances of the lead pair are exemplary. Parineeti channelises her passion for singing through this role.

In a review of the film, Anupama Chopra from Film Companion remarks on Diljit’s casting.

She opines: “Imtiaz’s masterstroke is casting Diljit Dosanjh as Chamkila.

“Diljit brings to the role an innocence and vulnerability.”

“The lyrics Chamkila wrote might have been lewd, but the man himself was gentle, affectionate and as another character says, almost servile to his audience.”

If one wishes to see two gentle characters overcome their coyness through music, one should watch Amar Singh Chamkila.

Bollywood biopics create soul-stirring narratives about real-life figures that inspire and achieve.

These stories can be about living celebrities or icons that are no longer with us.

Regardless of that, however, when they get it right, these biopics can carve a place for themselves in Indian cinematic history.

The reviews of the aforementioned films mention the rise of spirit they felt upon seeing these movies.

Do you want to share that mind-blowing experience?

Gather some snacks and embrace these great biopics!

Manav is a creative writing graduate and a die-hard optimist. His passions include reading, writing and helping others. His motto is: “Never hang on to your sorrows. Always be positive."

Images courtesy of MensXP and Hindustan Times.

Videos courtesy of YouTube.

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