Bollywood has not had many inspiring movies on sports. Reel life follows the lackluster 70 years of Indian sports after independence. But in the past decade or so, some film-makers found enough inspiration in the stories of some of our athletes to weave good movies out of them. The list is rather short, but some of these movies are terrific.
1. Dangal (IMDB Rating: 8.5)
Arguably one of Amir Khan's best movies, this is an entertaining sports drama inspired by a real-life story.
Dangal tells the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat’s battle against the social norms and centuries-old discrimination towards women athletes. A former wrestler himself, he is obsessed with winning gold for India, and sets his sights on training his future unborn sons to do the job for him.
However, he ends up with four daughters that shatters his hopes at first. But then he realizes that women can win Gold too, so his dream of winning Gold for India could still come true.
The movie revolves around his two daughters Geeta and Babita who defy the odds to rise to top wrestling positions. The story gives a strong feminist message, and the wrestling scenes are extremely well choreographed.
Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar act brilliantly as young Geeta and Babita. In my personal opinion, they were the best actors in the movie.
Overall, a very well made movie and definitely worth watching, if you have not already seen it.
DVDs and Blu-ray prints available on Amazon.
2. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (IMDB Rating: 8.2)
This is a very entertaining movie about Milkha Singh, the Flying Sikh. The opening moments of the movie takes us into 1960 Summer Olymptics in Rome. Although the Flying Sikh was the favourite to conquer the 400 meters event, he ends up finishing fourth. The story then circles around the events during partition and how it affected Milkha Singh's childhood and adolescence.
The movie is worth watching for two reasons. One, the movie concentrates on Milkha’s gradual evolution into a relentless competitor. Second, the actor Farhan Akhtar brought the character into life with his dedication. Both these factors are enough to keep you engaged throughout the movie.
You can buy yourself a copy of the movie on Amazon India.
3. Paan Singh Tomar (IMDB Rating: 8.2)
Paan Singh Tomar is an absolute must watch for people to witness the unbelievable ascent of an unknown soldier in the army to an outstanding sportsperson, and also to understand the sorry state of affairs in our country when it comes to sports.
This movie is about a soldier in the Indian army, who realizes that he can run to carve himself a position in Indian sports. But despite being a seven time steeple chase winner in national games and also representing India internationally, when he gets back home after an early retirement from the army, he is pushed to become a dacoit and a rebel. It is an agonizing story.
With superb acting by Irfan Khan, and a touching story of a struggling national champion, Paan Singh Tomar is a brilliant movie worth watching. DVD available on Amazon.in.
4. Mary Kom (IMDB rating: 6.8)
We have nothing but respect for Mary Kom, also known as "Magnificient Mary". She is one of the greatest idols that we all can look up to when it comes to sports. This movie is a great tribute to the champion pugilist.
Hailing from a remote village in Manipur, Mary Kom is a five-time world amateur boxing champion. However, not many know the struggles she had to go through while conquering the summits of boxing. The movie tells the story of a legend in the making, a girl who picks up fights with boys, a girl who’s driven with the desire of boxing.
Priyanka Chopra gives a decent performance as the main character. Although, some would say the movie is not worth a second time watch, for the sake of witnessing stories from Mary's life, we would recommend one watches this movie. DVD available on Amazon.in.
5. Budhia Singh: Born to Run (IMDB rating: 7.8)
Budhia Awooga Singh is a name forgotten by the media and probably never heard of by many people. This movie tells the true story of a kid who conquered 65 kilometers by running at a stretch, at the age of five. He has been acclaimed as the world's youngest marathon runner and is listed in Limca Book of Records.
From losing his father at a very early age to getting sold by his mother due to poverty, Budhia Singh’s had a very tragic early childhood. But soon, it was discovered that Budhia had a hidden talent. He was good at running. His physique was well suited to run long distances. The movie illustrates how Budhia emerged as the kid marathoner.
The movie revolves around the boy and his coach who grooms his talents. It makes one wonder, in a population of 1.3 billion in India, how many such Budhias do we have hidden who have not yet emerged due to lack of infrastructure, opportunities or guidance. Again, we would say this is a great movie to watch. DVD available on Amazon.in.