In 1999-2000, when the pre-production work for Lagaan was underway, director Ashutosh Gowariker was in talks with Shah Rukh Khan to play the lead. Shah Rukh had concerns about the box office feasibility of the film, given that sports films were few and far until then. Of course, Lagaan wasn’t just a sports film but nevertheless, cricket was a major part of the film. Highly skeptical, Shah Rukh opted out of the project and eventually, Aamir Khan was on board. The rest, as they say, is history.
Almost two decades since then, we see a plethora of sports-centric films being released. Some are biopics while others have fictional plots with a certain sport as its focal point. As long as the screenplay is engaging and packaged neatly, the viewers are always happy to lap it up. The latest sports flick set to join the club is Tamil superstar Vijay’s upcoming Diwali release Bigil, which is set in the backdrop of football, wherein a group of women are coached to glory by the protagonist. The synopsis does instantly remind us of the Bollywood hit Chak De India.
Sports films are guaranteed to set the cash registers ringing, provided they are made well. As a bare plot line, every film in this genre ends up having a rather similar theme of underdogs fighting against all odds to achieve success. But that’s its appeal factor. If we look back at some of the most famous sporting achievements, there would be enough and more of such tales. Maybe, it’s the effect of real-life sports incidents on our psyche that enables us to believe even the fictional tales from this genre. Sports biopics generate a lot of buzz right from the time of its announcement—Ranvir Singh’s upcoming Kapil Dev biopic 83 being an example.