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Pratik Gandhi, best known for Scam 1992- The Harshad Mehta Story, will play the lead role in a biopic on social activist and reformer Mahatma Phule titled Phule. Patralekhaa will play his wife Savitribai Phule.

The biopic wave has been nothing short of an obsession in Bollywood lately, with more than 40 films churned out in the past decade alone. The trend reached its peak in 2016 with 12 films, including hits such as Dangal, Neerja and M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, with eight such movies in 2015 and six in 2017.

There will be several more films over the next few months. Maidaan starring Ajay Devgn as real-life football coach Syed Abdul Rahim is slated for later this year while Taapsee Pannu has wrapped up Shabaash Mithu where she plays cricketer Mithali Raj.

“Biopics have always been made in India, Mughal-e-Azam was a biopic too, as was Jodhaa Akbar,“ Neerja director Ram Madhvani had said in an earlier interview to Mint. “But the thing is we are making more realistic biopics now because audiences are interested in real stories. The fantasy element of Hindi movies is changing." Madhvani had added that the things people used to traditionally go to Hindi movies for, the larger-than-life songs, romance, the heroic stuff, have all given way to a depiction of the grey shades of real life.

Omung Kumar, director of biopics such as Sarbjit and Mary Kom, said the biopic is a new storytelling technique that has been in vogue far longer abroad and came to India much later. Its appeal, he says, lies in bringing to life the story of someone who once existed and made a mark.

Director Rajkumar Hirani’s take on actor Sanjay Dutt’s life, Sanju and Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, are among Bollywood’s recent biopic hits.

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