Farhan Akhtar’s Toofaan was a reminder that when you combine sports and movies, you often get the perfect mainstream masala entertainer, tailor-made for movie nights.
So if you’re still on a high from the film, here’s a look at some of the best Hindi sports films ever made that you can perhaps watch, or rather, re-watch:
1. M.S Dhoni: The Untold Story
Starring Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead role, this biopic was based on the life of former Indian Captain M.S. Dhoni. It certainly would not have been an easy task capturing the journey and spirit of one of India’s most loved cricketers. And yet, from the casting to the story, the film perfectly nailed Dhoni’s journey from a ticket collector to one of India’s greatest cricketers.
Based on the life of the Phogat sisters, Dangal was not just a brilliant sports film, but also an empowering story that showed what women can achieve, if only they’re given a chance.
3. Chak De! India
Much like Dangal, Chak De! India too focused more on the story than the ‘star power’, delivering a film that scored high on both, entertainment value and sports lessons. And of course, it gave the iconic ‘sattar-minute‘ speech that never fails to rouse us up.
Panga perfectly combined the thrill of a sports drama with the struggles of a mother building an identity beyond motherhood. What is truly commendable is how the film won people’s affection for a sport like kabaddi, which often gets sidelined by India’s love for cricket.
5. Mary Kom
Bollywood and biopics on sports personalities certainly go hand in hand. While the casting may have come under scrutiny, it can not be denied that the film was a perfect ode to Mary Kom’s impressive achievements and strength.
The real-life story of hockey player Sandeep Singh’s return to the game was tailor-made for Bollywood. Soorma was a fine example of Diljit Dosanjh’s acting prowess, while also serving as a lesson in what hard work and determination can achieve.
7. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Yet another biopic, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was based on the life of Indian athlete, national champion, and Olympian Milkha Singh. Starring Farhan Akhtar in the titular role, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag delivered a gripping storyline with incredible performances. A special mention to the film’s brilliant soundtrack.
Lagaan was one of the finest examples of why cricket and movies are a match made in heaven. While it wasn’t just about cricket, what no one can deny is how important a role cricket made in the film. And if you have to twist history, then this is the kind of historical fiction we can root for!
When it comes to any film genre, the story of an underdog always strikes a chord with the audience. Such was the case with the National Award-winning film Iqbal. An underrated gem in Bollywood’s milieu of sports drama Iqbal boasted of truly brilliant performances by Shreyas Talpade and Naseeruddin Shah.
Before Toofaan, it was the Vineet Kumar Singh starrer sports drama Mukkabaaz that introduced us to the world of boxing. As much a love story as it is a sports drama, Mukkabaaz is an intense tale of grit and passion, that also marked Zoya Hussain’s movie debut.
11. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
Yes, Jo Jeeta was technically a coming-of-age film. But the way it used sports as a theme to showcase Sanju’s transformation also earns it a spot in the list of sports dramas. After all, there are few films that have accurately captured the spirit of college competitions like Jo Jeeta did.
A historical sports drama, Gold traces the journey of newly independent India’s National Hockey team to the 1948 Summer Olympics. With a gripping storyline, the film won critical acclaim for the performances of the supporting cast.
13. Skater Girl
The story of a young girl from an Indian village, who chases skating and freedom, Skater Girl was a delightful coming-of-age sports drama. A classic story of fighting the odds and emerging a winner, Skater Girl starred newcomers Rachel Sanchita Gupta and Shafin Patel. It also included a cameo by veteran actor, Waheeda Rehman.
Based on the life of Indian Badminton player Saina Nehwal, and starring Parineeti Chopra in the titular role, Saina was not the finest of biopics to come out of Bollywood. But it was definitely an inspiring tale of what hard work and passion can achieve.
Is there a film you’ll add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.