Why historical movies are a subject of debate?

When you make a biopic on historical figures and take creative independence to tamper with the history, you are sure to become a victim of controversy. Padmavati, a historical movie based on Chittor’s Queen Padmini has raised more debate, heated arguments even before its release.

Making a historical movie is a risky business. K. Asif’s movie – Mughal-E-Azam took 15 years to complete. Based on the love story of Salim & Anarkali, every moment of the movie was lavish, memorable and larger than life. Whether Anarkali really existed or was a fictional character is a subject of research. The audience loved and applauded the movie. The earlier audiences just wanted to enjoy movies. Now the dynamics of movie making has changed. Movie makers want to take creative liberties and make movie as per their vision. In pursuit of achieving cinematic excellence, they end up hurting the sentiments of their target audience. When a film maker is making a movie on a historical figure, he has to take care that the incidents and events happened in the history are factual and not borrowed from secondary sources like ballads or plays.

When a biopic on freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was announced, many filmmakers chose to make biopic on the legendary freedom fighter. Out of 5 biopics on Bhagat Singh, only 3 movies saw the light of day. It was Ajay Devgan’s movie on Bhagat Singh that was applauded and got critically acclaimed. For the movie makers, biopics on freedom fighters are just a new formula to succeed in industry.

Even Bajirao-Mastani was a subject of debate when it was criticized for the wrong facts shown in the movie. It had shown Bajirao’s wife – Kashibai dancing in the movie. The true fact is that the historical character was suffering from arthritis. Creative liberties sometimes hurt the sentiments of those people attached to that subject.

Oliver Stone’s biopic on Alexander was criticized a lot for its complicated and uninspiring storytelling. The movie showcased on Alexander’s emotional relationship with his general Hephaestion. There were some scenes which questioned Alexander’s morality. Despite the negative criticism, Alexander’s movie stood unique for its story telling. Regardless of what personal life Alexander had, who can question his bravery and zeal to conquer the world?

Even the 2006 Zack Snyder’s movie – 300 was based on a historical event. The war of King Leonidas and his 300 brave Spartan soldiers against King Xerxes was shown very stylishly by director Zack. It looked more of a fantasy movie and less of historical flick. Making movies is a creative art. It should be seen and appreciated as an art. Irrelevant of their inaccuracies, Hollywood historical flicks are thoroughly viewed.

In Hollywood, there are biopics on historical figures like William Wallace, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Lincoln etc. Prior to making a biopic on a specific personality, a huge amount of research is gone behind the subject. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a result of intensive research, discussions and historical studies. Can anyone forget the academy award winning movie – Gandhi made by Richard Attenborough!!

Making historical movies is not everyone’s cup of tea. Whether it is Braveheart or Elizabeth, Hollywood directors have definitely paid attention to present the movie as per the facts. The Hollywood historical dramas are a blend of cinematic excellence and extensive research. Result!! The movies sweep the Oscars.

A well-researched biopic on a historical figure receives attention, critical acclaim and awards. Bollywood needs to learn a lot from Hollywood when it comes to making historical biopics. It is not that Bollywood doesn’t have talented directors. They make movies only to gain 100 crores profit. In earlier times, movies were made with passion. Today only few movies with a good content manage to click while rest is just forgettable. Historical movies like Razia Sultana, Taj Mahal, Jodha Akbar, Jahanara and Mughal-E-Azam are considered a landmark in genre of epic movies.

There is a faint hope that viewers will get to see a good historical movie without any controversy.


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