Life often inspires art and so we thought it would be a good thing to let you know about the real-life stories that some of our collective favourite movies are based on. Look out for surprises, there are a few.

1. Zubeidaa

The movie, considered to be one of the best Hindi period dramas, is based on the life of Zubeida Begum, who was actually the mother of the film’s writer Khalid Mohamed. She was married to Hanwant Singh, the ruler of Jodhpur, but because the two belonged to different religions, Hanwant Singh’s family was not happy with the decision despite the fact that Zubeida converted to Hinduism for her husband’s sake. 

She had one child with him, Hukum Singh Rathore. She had Khalid from her first marriage.

The Little Corner

2. Special 26

This Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar starrer is based on Opera House heist in which a person named Mon Singh conducted a fake CBI raid on Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons Jewellers, Bombay, with the help of a group of people who thought they were actually on a mock raid for a security personnel post. He got to the jewelry shop, showed a fake search warrant, and started picking things out. He filled two bags with jewelry and gold and asked his men to put them in the bus they travelled on. Then, he asked members of his group to keep an eye on the shop while he fled.

Mon Singh was never caught.

Chill Zee
Chill Zee

3. Jolly LLB

Jolly LLB is not based on but inspired by the 1999 hit-and-run case involving the grandson of Indian navy chief, Sanjeev Nanda. Nanda, who was eventually convicted for killing 6 people in New Delhi in 2008. The case garnered a lot of media attention back then and was seen as the system’s shameful struggle against the rich and mighty.


4. Raees

Though makers denied this, Raees was inspired by the life of gangster Abdul Latif from Gujarat. They have definitely taken bits from the gangster’s life to shape the personality of SRK’s character. For instance, Abdul was in an illegal liquor business and allegedly got his rival murdered with the help of Dawood Ibrahim. He has great political influence in his region and was killed in an encounter in 1997.

Latif’s son filed a complaint against the makers of the movie for defamation.


5. Raazi 

Raazi is the real-life story of Indian spy Sehmat. That’s not her actual name though. Harinder Sikka, the author of the book, Calling Sehmat, which provided the base material for Raazi, changed her name for security reasons. As shown in the movie, she did marry a person from Pakistan and did live with his family to find out the secrets that eventually proved very helpful for the Indian Army. She was pregnant with a child when she returned to India.

This kid, who later became an Army officer, was the one who told the story of his mother to Harinder Sikka.


6. Swades

Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Swades is widely considered to be one of Shah Rukh Khan’s best works. The movie was based on the life of an NRI couple, Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi, who returned to India to light up Bilgaon, an adivasi village in Narmada valley. They developed the pedal power generator to provide light to schools. The movie introduced some minor changes to the story so it cannot be called a biopic but it was derived from the couple’s life.


7. Raman Raghav 2.0

The chilling story of a ruthless murderer is sadly and scarily a real one. It is based on the life of Raman Raghav, the killer who operated in Mumbai during the 1960s. Raghav, who was called Jack the Ripper of India by many would kill people sleeping on the side of the road, creating an atmosphere of fear in the city. He was said to have a mental illness and it is for the same reason, he was not given a death sentence. He died in 1995.

Raghav admitted to killing 53 people, though that’s his confession, and no one knows what the real number actually is.

The Quint

So fascinating.