Inspiring, emotional, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and at times humorous - sport movies and biopics centered around the men and women of sports often find a special place in cinematic history.
There’s a reason for this - these films resonate with stories of sacrifice, struggle, and dogged determination, inspiring people long after.
With ace shuttler PV Sindhu clinching the first-ever gold at the BWF World Championships, champion sprinter Hima Das on a gold-winning spree in Europe and Virat Kohli, who in June 2019 broke Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara’s record of the fastest to reach 20,000 international runs, a nation which reveres its sports stars will celebrate August 29 as National Sports Day.
The day marks the birth anniversary of hockey player Dhyan Chand, and was commemorated as National Sports Day as a tribute to the legend who brought home Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932, and 1936.
Just the perfect time to binge on a movie marathon of the greatest sports movies ever.
Dangal, starring Aamir Khan (2016)
Lagaan and Chak De! India will always be classics, yet it’s time to hit refresh on that “favourite sport movies” list. Who better to fill this spot than the Aamir Khan-starrer wrestling flick Dangal?
The 2016 hit, directed by Nitesh Tiwari, and loosely based on the life and achievements of the Phogat sisters, shines the spotlight on the early days of the wrestlers. With Khan slipping into the shoes of Mahavir Singh Phogat – an amateur wrestler who dedicated his life to training his daughters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari – the plot traces their journey, as they go on to become India’s first world-class female wrestlers.
It’s a must-watch for the sheer quality of both newcomers Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra (who play Geeta and Babita) performances, all under the watchful guidance of their real-life (and also on screen) mentor Aamir Khan.
While you are at it, also watch out for Sakshi Tanwar as she effortlessly slips into a non-glamorous avatar.
Paan Singh Tomar, a true story based on the life of a soldier-turned-athlete (2012)
If you’ve missed this gem of a movie, it’s time to watch it. The critically-acclaimed film starring Irrfan Khan, Mahi Gil, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Vipin Sharma is a true story, based on the life of titular character Paan Singh Tomar. A soldier in the Indian Army who impressed his seniors and sports lovers worldwide with his athletic skills.
Paan Singh’s sports career picked up when he participated in the Indian National Games. Before he knew it, he was at national and international tournaments clinching gold against all odds. As life took an unexpected turn, the seven-time national steeplechase champion was forced into a life of lawlessness, becoming the most feared dacoit in Chambal Valley. The Tigmanshu Dhulia-directed film won the Best Feature Film and Best Actor at the 60th National Film Awards 2012.
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Soorma, a tale of triumph (2018)
Directed by Shaad Ali, Soorma is a biographical sports drama centred on the life of hockey player Sandeep Singh. With Diljit Dosanjh and Tapsee Pannu in lead roles, the film takes one back to the 90s, where a young Sandeep Singh, discouraged by a strict disciplinarian trainer decides to quit hockey.
His interest in the sport, however, is reignited by a series of events. But just when hard work and steely willpower put him back on track, a tragic incident takes it all away. After being accidentally shot and rendered paralysed, it is his sheer grit and determination that helps Sandeep score the winning goal.
It is a story of the triumph of human spirit – just what you need to lift up your spirits on dark days.
I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding (2017)
The 2017 American sports drama I, Tonya is every bit thrilling as it is inspiring. Ignoring a long list of real-life evidence and rancour against Olympian and competitive ice skater Tonya Harding, and her misdoings, the film features interviews with the titular character in a mock documentary style.
Although, it’s a more fictionalised depiction of the real-life events, the film has drawn major praise for actor and co-producer Margot Robbie and supporting actor Allison Janney. So much so, that at the 90th Oscars, Janney even won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Gold: The dream that united our nation (2018)
Director Reema Kagti strikes gold with this historical sports drama. The film, starring Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Kunal Kapoor, Vineet Kumar Singh, Amit Sadh, and Sunny Kaushal, documents the journey of a man who was instrumental in helping India win its first gold at the Olympics, post-Independence. Set against the backdrop of India’s freedom struggle and personal aspirations of Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar), the assistant manager of the Indian team, the plot beautifully captures the essence of the era with a strong patriotic undertone.
(Edited by Suruchi Kapur Gomes)