Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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Distorted Reality

Historical Movies Are Just Bollywood’s Surgical Strike On Truth And Facts

Do filmmakers have the right to present falsehoods in biopics and high-profile films under the guise of truth?

Half truths?: Stills from Bollywood movies Haqeeqat

Filming the biography of a person, dead or alive, or for that matter a hoary event—factual or apocryphal—is like walking on a double-edged sword, especially in a country where sentiments get hurt even by the theatre of the absurd. Swords come out of their sheaths not only over the portrayal of characters but also something as innocuous as a movie title. More often than not, filmmakers have to pay the price for their ‘audacity to distort facts’ on commercial excuses.

Yet, the intrepid Bollywood brigade does not seem to shy away from making biopics, what with its privilege of cinematic liberty to pass off facts as fiction and vice-versa, without being questioned. In fact, the Lords of Lokhandwala tend to use this very freedom to temper any script with the sugar or the spice of their choice to whet the curiosity of a gullible audience. Little surprise then, there is seldom an honest cinematic adaptation of the life and times of a person or a landmark event recorded on the footnotes of history. Obviously, the facts have not been sacrosanct in a Bollywood biopic where the main protagonist is often depicted as infallible with his dark side airbrushed with impunity. Unlike the heroes of Shakespearean tragedies, such characters do not possess any hamartia that could cause their downfall.

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