Sports biopics are the new flavour of Bollywood. With the likes of Dangal, and MS Dhoni: An Untold Story successful commercially and at the same time receiving critical acclaim, this is one genre that is here to stay.
A number of sports biopics like Sachin: A Billion Dreams, and Marriyappan have already been lined up for this year and fans cannot wait for their release. A major part of the success of these biopics, though, can be attributed to the casting directors who select the actors who portray the sports personalities on the big screen.
There are still a number of stories of Indian sporting heroes that need to be told on the silver screen. On that note, we list five Indian Olympic medallists, with a story worth telling and also try to take on the role of casting director and name actors who would be perfect to portray the role in movies.
#1 Aamir Khan as Abhinav Bindra
Abhinav Bindra is a living legend when it comes to Olympic sports in India. The ace shooter became India’s only individual gold medallist at the Olympics when he claimed the gold medal in the Men’s 10m Air-Rifle at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
It was also India’s first gold medal in the Olympics in 28 years – the last time India had won the gold medal was in 1980 when the men’s hockey team claimed it. Bindra is also the only Indian to have held the World and Olympic titles at the same time in any sport.
Hailing from a Punjabi family, Bindra’ the journey to the Olympics is a remarkable story. An intriguing finale in Beijing could be the essence of any feature film based on him and celebrated actor Aamir Khan would be the ideal person for his portrayal on the screen.
The actor, who is labelled as a ‘perfectionist’, has hardly taken a step wrong in the film industry. He has already proved his mettle in sports-based films in Lagaan and in Dangal. Aamir as Abhinav Bindra would be the perfect person to portray India’s Olympic hero on the big screen.
#2 Akshay Kumar as Norman Pritchard
An India-born British athlete who won two silver medals for India at the Olympic Games, during the days of British colonisation in India, Norman Pritchard’s is a story that has to be told. The Britisher later went on to earn laurels as an actor in Hollywood movies. Is there a meatier story available in the history of Indian sport?
Pritchard was not only the first athlete from India but also the first athlete from Asia to win an Olympic medal. He was born in Calcutta to British parents. But according to the International Olympic Committee, he represented India at the Games in Paris in 1900.
He went on to win two silver medals in the 200m sprint and 200m hurdles, India’s first-ever medals in the Olympic Games. Later on, he went on to star in several Hollywood silent movies like Beau Geste, Dancing Mothers, etc.
Akshay Kumar has both the physique and the talent to portray an athlete on the screen. And if there is anyone in Bollywood who can carry off a moustache like Norman Pritchard, then it’s Akshay.
#3 Deepika Padukone as PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu is the latest sensation in Indian sports. Recently, she became the first Indian woman to claim an Olympic silver at the Rio Games earlier in 2016. The 21-year-old shuttler defeated several top-ranked players on her way to the final.
But unfortunately, she could not overcome Carolina Marin’s challenge in the last hurdle. In the final, she fought with all her might, taking the first game 21-19. But eventually, the world number one Marin prevailed over her winning the last two games 21-15 21-12.
After Saina Nehwal was ousted, few expected India to bag any medals from badminton. However, Sindhu went on to do the unthinkable. Her story, on how she travelled a huge distance daily to her academy and how she went on to become an Olympic medallist, is in itself incredible.
Who better than Bollywood queen Deepika Padukone to take on the mantle of a badminton star?
The daughter of Prakash Padukone, Sindhu’s coach, Deepika herself was a badminton player before she took to acting. A movie with Deepika playing the role of Sindhu? A huge hit!
#4 Akshay Kumar as Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore scripted history by becoming the first Indian individual to win a silver medal at the Olympic Games in over a century. Rathore won India’s solitary medal at the 2004 Athens Games.
He shot to silver in the Men’s Double Trap event and rose to prominence immediately. He has also won two gold medals at the World Shooting Championships in Sydney in 2004 and in Cairo on 2006. Between 2002 and 2006, Rathore bagged as many as 25 medals in different international shooting meets.
A descendent of Rao Bikaji, the first ruler of Bikaner, Rathore was born in Jaisalmer. He served as a soldier of the Indian Army and currently serves as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting in the Indian government.
Patriotic films are Akshay Kumar’s forte. And imagine a moustache-sporting Akshay, wielding a gun and shooting for Olympic glory as the national anthem plays in the background. Goosebumps!
#5 John Abraham as Vijender Singh
Vijender Singh became the first ever Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal when he won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He defeated Gongora of Ecuador in the quarter-finals to assure the bronze medal.
Hailing from a humble Jat family, Vijender’s father was a bus driver while his mother was a homemaker. His father worked extra hours just so Vijender and his elder brother could pursue their education. But Vijender found his calling in boxing and took to the sport.
He won several medals at the national level, before going stepping up to the international level. There as well, he earned several plaudits but the Olympic bronze remains the highlight of his career. He has now turned to professional boxing and is the reigning WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight champion.
Vijender, himself, has made a few appearances in movies but none have been successful and he could portray himself on the silver screen but given his boxing career, the chances are slim. John Abraham could be the ideal actor to play his role.