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Sports sagas: When real life inspired reel...

Last updated on: May 17, 2016 11:55 IST
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It was double whammy for Indian sports lovers over the weekend as two big biopics hit cinema screens on Friday, the 13th.

Pele: Birth of a Legend and Azhar, biographical films on two sports icons, gave film buffs a glimpse into the 'extraordinary' lives of Brazilian footballer Pele and former India cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin.

Their stories are stuff of history, beating poverty and other odds to rise to fame and popularity. presents a look at films that capture the lives of sports icons.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag


Farhan Akhtar in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag


Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is based on the life of 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete best remembered for his fourth-place finish in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

Milkha also represented India at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and the Tokyo Games in 1964.

The star of the film is Farhan Akhtar, who epitomizes the Olympian with a fine on-screen performance.

The role saw Akhtar win many an award in the 'best actor' category.    

Paan Singh Tomar


Irfan Khan as Paan Singh Tomar


Paan Singh Tomar is based on the true story of the eponymous athlete who served the Indian Army and won a gold medal at the Indian National Games but was forced to become a notorious bandit.

This Tigmanshu Dhulia venture has Irrfan Khan in the title role.

The actor won a National award for his outstanding portrayal of the character.

Mary Kom


Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom 


The Priyanka Chopra-starrer Mary Kom is a story about the Manipur-born Olympic medalist who won a bronze at the 2012 London Games.

It's an inspiring story of an individual overcoming a series of odds to emerge triumphant.

Hailing from an underprivileged background in India's most neglected regions, wanting to excel in a sport considered inappropriate for women by her prejudiced surrounding, trying to succeed in a world full of discrimination, juggling motherhood with a physically demanding career... the movie's soul focus is bringing to attention Indian boxing champion Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom's huge achievements inside and outside the ring.

Chak de India


Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De India


Loosely based on the life of former India hockey goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi and one of Shah Rukh Khan’s finest performances, Chak De India is one of India’s best sports films in the last decade.

The story revolves around a wrongly-tainted hockey star who goes on to regain respect after he guides a disintegrated women’s hockey team to win the World Cup.



Chris Hemsworth in Rush 


Rush is a 2013 biographical sports drama film centred on the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One season.

Chris Hemsworth plays Hunt and Daniel Brühl characterized Lauda to perfection.

The film was well-received at the Toronto Film Festival and was a critical and box-office success. 



Will Smith as Muhammad Ali 


Released in 2001, Ali is the biography of boxing legend Muhammad Ali from his early years to his days in the ring.

Will Smith plays the role of Ali to the 'T'. His performance got him nominated for the 2002 Academy Awards.

The movie encapsulates the champion boxer’s rise to fame by winning the World heavyweight title in 1963, his stand against the Vietnam War and his conversion to Islam.

It packs a real punch. Surely one for boxing connoisseurs.

The Program


Ben Foster playing Armstrong in Stephen Frears's film, The Program


The Program is a 2015 British-French biographical drama film about Lance Armstrong, directed by Stephen Frears.

The film stars Ben Foster as Armstrong and Chris O'Dowd as journalist David Walsh.

It is based on Walsh's book Seven Deadly Sins.

Premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2015, it was theatrically released in France on September 16 and the United Kingdom on October 14.

The movie is about the seven-time Tour de France champion’s involvement in the doping scandal that was exposed by sports journalist Walsh.

The film, however, is not from Armstrong’s perspective and those scenes are fictitious.

It  had a lukewarm response following its theatrical release but was well-received at film festivals. 

The Fighter


Mark Wahlburg in The Fighter


The Fighter is an American biographical film on the lives of professional boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale)

It captures the bond between the brothers and how Ward fought off drugs to return and script history for himself.

The underdog boxer rallied to win both the WBU Intercontinental Lightweight title and the WBU Light Welterweight title thanks to determination and hard work after a series of losses.

This movie is a treat for sure!





The film showcases the uniqueness in which Nelson Mandela, in his first term as South Africa's President, decided to unite the apartheid-torn land by putting the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 World Cup.

Mandela tells team captain Francoise Pieenar that he wants them to win the World Cup.

The players go about intense training but Mandela decides to show them what they are playing for by making them teach rugby in small townships and spend some time in the prison where he was held for 27 years.

All this inspires them and the team to the pinnacle, making them heroes of sorts.

The Jackie Robinson Story


Jackie Robinson


The Jackie Robinson Story, starring the baseballer himself, is a movie based on the life of the first black Major League Baseball player in the 20th century.

Released in 1950, the movie charts the player’s life from the negro leagues to the major leagues.

The film shows how Robinson overcame massive racism to rise to the heights of the game.

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