Discussion Post: Which is the Best Sports Biopic?

All of a sudden after years and years of no biopics, they have become a plague on the Hindi industry in the past few years, especially sports biopics. So I am going to list out all the ones I can remember and describe their main themes, and we can decide which is the best one! Or at least, which you think is most interesting. And this will prepare us for the upcoming sea of more sports movies.

Image result for bhaag milkha bhaag poster

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Stars Farhan Akhtar, and directed by Om Prakash Mehra, this one focuses on training and trauma and how they intersect. It’s less about the medals and the success and more about the internal journey that drives the hero to success. The culmination isn’t a race that is won, it is an emotional break down in grief that was long delayed.

Image result for dangal


An Aamir Khan original, but he chooses to play the coach instead of the athlete. Which gives the film a focus on the long journey to success, all the obstacles that have to be overcome or avoided in order to succeed, and the support system behind the athletes.

Image result for dhoni poster

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story

Sushant Singh Rajput’s last successful film, directed by Neeraj Panday who usually does process thrillers. A story of a career journey, honing skills and taking job after job and waiting for that big break and having faith that you will be ready when it comes. Plus a couple romances along the way. And many hair changes.

Image result for soorma movie


Diljit Dosanjh’s biggest role so far in Hindi film, directed by Shaad Ali who has over a decade of experience mostly in rom-coms. A story you wouldn’t believe except you know it is real. And this time, it is about a family and how the success of one is a tribute to the support of the others. Family is present in all the movies, but only in this film is family there when all seems lost, when everyone else has turned away, when country and sport and love no longer matter.

Image result for gold movie poster


Akshay Kumar plays the lead, but it’s really an ensemble film. And Reema Kagti directs, a completely different film from her previous except that they also were ensemble pieces. The only “team” version of a sports biopic on this list. It’s India itself that is the star here, with 5 leads all from different backgrounds and places who come together to form a team. The theme is unity from diversity and learning to work together.

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Emraan Hashmi, turned hideous by make-up, plays the lead. Directed by Anthony D’Souza who had done a couple of slick mass movies before, nothing special. The theme here is acceptance, appreciating talent and ignoring the personal. The focus is not on the actual sports moments, but on the scandals and law suits surrounding the player. Also, this is a very bad movie. The only truly terrible one on the list, which is a sign of how sports biopics have arrived, they are popular enough now to inspire bad imitations of good films.

Image result for paan singh tomar poster

Paan Singh Tomar

Irrfan Khan’s sports film, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia who came up through the Anurag Kashyap mentorship, starting as a writer. This movie I have not actually seen. But it is too important not to include. A film that looks at the tragedy of the forgotten athlete, a brilliant runner who left the army to go back to his family and got caught up in a local feud and local banditry because he had no other options. It’s about missed opportunities and forgotten glory.

Image result for mary kom poster

Mary Kom

Priyanka Chopra’s sports biopic, based on India’s female Olympic Gold winner, directed by Omung Kumar who is primarily a set designer. Again, I haven’t seen it. And again, too important not to include. A rags to riches, surviving tragedy and finding triumph, kind of movie. A tearjerker with a triumphal ending.

14 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Which is the Best Sports Biopic?

    • I was thinking that the whole time too! Only, it isn’t based on a true story. Although it feels a lot more true than some of these others which are.

      On Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 12:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  1. I couldn’t even finish Dhoni. Not for people who don’t understand cricket! I think one mark of a great sports film is one that explains the sport well enough to support the story for those who might be unfamiliar. For that reason, I always think of Lagaan as a great sports movie!


    • Gold does a really good job. Well, kind of. I never fully understood the sport, but the final game was filmed in such a way that I got caught up in it anyway, even without fully following what was happening. Soorma just gives up entirely, we don’t need to know anything about Field Hockey, it’s so personal focused instead of game.

      I think Dangal is probably the best, that little speech Aamir gives in the first half when he is explaining professional wrestling to his daughters is perfect.

      On Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 12:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. I’m not in general a big fan of sports films because they are so predictable but Dangal is great not only because it’s well written, directed and acted, it’s also Aamir transitioning to mature roles which yes, please, keep doing this (haven’t seen the others on the list). For sports movies not on the list, my faves are Chak de India and Saala Khadoos.


    • You should check out Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, it’s another well-made and not predictable option, Gold, on the other hand, is the well-made and very predictable option (but, Reema Kagti! the Talaash director! So maybe you will like it for that)


  3. I’m most partial to Gold, but close seconds are Soorma (for its overall lightness) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag for the overall execution and how it dealt so well with Partition. It also did a good job at keeping interest over the different phases of his career (something Dhoni really failed to do).

    Haven’t seen Mary Kom (and will never see it on principle) but I really should see Paan Singh Tomar, for sure.


  4. Just remembered Saala Khadoos. It was my first exposure to Madhavan, exposure being the right word. (Can anyone ever forget that first scene in his bedroom?) I spent the next several days watching every Madhavan movie playing, hunting for that same brooding, buff hunk. Never found him. And while I came to love his consummate acting skills, I missed my original dark Adonis.
    I agree with all the other sports flicks mentioned; have seen and loved them. But for total adoration, my shallow heart requires a magnificently barechested male lead. (Except for Salman; he’s past it. Time to hang up the bar bells and stick to producing.)


    • Check out Vikram-Vedha if you haven’t already. Short hair, but the same sort of bad boy big guy tough guy.

      On Tue, Jan 1, 2019 at 8:36 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • I choose Dangal too and thanks for reminding me of Saala khadoos. The movie surpassed my expectations because around the time it came out I was experiencing sports movie fatigue so wasn’t even interested in watching it. Then I finally watched it a few months after and it blew me away because it played with the cliches that these kind of movies always have but kept me hooked throughout and of course R. Madhavan!!!!!


  5. Found Vikram Vedha on You Tube, Tamil and Hindi versions. No subs. Hard to follow the plot but Madhavan looks yummy, a little softer and less cut than in Saala Khadoos but still hot. Vijay too with his gray beard and sexy sneer. Thanks, mredlich.


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