Indian cinema loves the sports genre, for it allows the makers to explore the protagonist’s wide gamut of emotions and provides them the ease to tell a convincing story that exhibits the “zero to hero” transformation.
There are several successful films made on popular sports such as cricket, football, hockey. For example, late Sushant Singh Rajput’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, Ranveer Singh’s 83 , Nani’s Jersey and now the Hindi remake of the same starring Shahid Kapoor, that is yet to be released.
However, of late it is raining boxing dramas in Indian cinema. For instance, the Bollywood biopic on boxing star Mary Kom, starring Priyanka Chopra in the lead role. It captured the struggles that the boxer, hailing from a small village in Manipur, faced to realise her audacious dreams.
Sudhakongara’s Irudhi Suttru (Saala Khadoos in Hindi) is the story about how a failed boxer (R Madhavan), on a quest to identify female boxers, chooses to train an amateur (Ritika Singh) and lead her to victory.
Then there's Toofaan, featuring Farhan Akthar. It follows the life of an underdog boxer, who switches from street fights to bouts in the boxing ring.
Pa Ranjith's Sarpatta Parambarai delves into the life of Kabilan (Arya), from the 1970s North Madras, who works hard to redeem his boxing clan and himself from years of defeat. Then there's Anurag Kashyap's 2017 film Mukkabaaz too.
The list doesn't seem to stop. Varun Tej’s Ghani is all set to release on 8 April. Bankrolled by Karan Johar, Puri Jagannadh’s Liger, featuring Vijay Devarakonda and Ananya Panday, is gearing up to hit cinemas on 25 August.
Why Has The Boxing Drama Become a Favourite Sub-Genre?
To start with, boxing is a solo sport, and that makes it easier to narrate the protagonist's story. It offers a scope to delve into the various facets of a person’s life, and not just the sport. Such films also do not demand the development of multiple characters, that are mandatory for multi-player sports. This advantage enables the filmmaker to stay focused on the most important characters, which make casting and training of the limited actors in the ring a cakewalk.
Speaking to the Quint, trade analyst Ramesh Bala said, "Boxing films are a tried and tested genre in Hollywood. For example, Rocky, Raging bull and Ali serve as references, inspiring filmmakers based in India. Moreover, films based on boxing help build the protagonist’s life from scratch and amplify their image dramatically, catering to action movie lovers in the country”.
He added that there is always a market for inspirational stories in Indian cinema, and what better than a boxing drama?
From underdog stories to redemption narratives, boxing films are also easier to relate. Fighting against odds, believing in hope to turn things around and rising back - these elements make for strong stories. In addition, the Indian audiences’ thirst for action films is better satiated with a realistic fist fight in the boxing ring rather than a generic sports drama.
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