Parmanu: Story of Pokhran
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Bollywood's tryst with history!

By HT

New Delhi, Sept. 4 -- Historical films keep being made by the Indian film industry, but 2017 is quite remarkable for the number of films set in various decades - and centuries - of the past. 
 
This year began with Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon, with the backdrop of World War II and the female protagonist inspired by a vintage screen personality, the swashbuckling stuntwomanactor Fearless Nadia. 
 
Madhur Bhandarkar's Indu Sarkar was on the Emergency (1975) imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Gurinder Chadha's British Indian drama Partition: 1947 highlighted what happened when the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, had to oversee the transition of British India to independent India.
 
Among historical films now on the floors are; Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati, based on the life of Rani Padmini of Chittor; Abhishek Sharma's Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, highlighting the series of confidential nuclear tests at Pokhran in 1998; Nandita Das' Manto, on the controversial Indo-Pakistani author and playwright Saadat Hasan Manto. 
 
Less obviously historical, but also going back in the past are Milan Luthria's Baadshaho, which revolves around real-life events that happened in Rajasthan during the Emergency; Ashim Ahluwalia's Daddy, tracing the journey of gangster turned-politician Arun Gawli; and Apoorva Lakhia's Haseena Parker, on the life of Dawood Ibrahim's sister.
 
Explaining the lure of the past, trade analyst Atul Mohan says, "People are always interested to know what happened in the past. 
 
If that learning happens through entertainment, then why not?" Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia, whose film, Raag Desh, based on the 1945 trials of Indian National Army officers, released this year, adds, "Every time I come across something interesting in history, I try to see if a film around it is possible. I feel that the Indian audience also enjoys watching real-life stories on screen."
 
There are more history based movies that are eyeing release dates next year. The list includes Reema Kagti's Gold, which sees Akshay Kumar playing the role of hockey player Balbir Singh; Krish's Manikarnika, on the brave Rani of Jhansi; Muhammad Ali's Mughal Road, narrating India's fight against Kabailies (Pakistani tribesmen) who crossed over to Baramulla; and Omung Kumar's The Good Maharaja, on the life of Maharaja Jam Sahib Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji.
 
Arjun Rampal, who plays the title role in Daddy, says, "What happened in the 1970s happened in that era, and you can't recreate that world for the present generation. So a movie around that is very exciting." Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar adds,"The audience takes interest in how the past world of politics influences the present time. They don't have free time, and films, within a few hours, help them know about a particular part of history."