Real-life characters are the flavour of the new decade. As everyone grabs every opportunity to play authentic characters, here is my pick of the lot.
1. Deepika Padukone as Laxmi Aggarwal in Chhapaak: So okay, the makers of the film have chosen to change the acid-attack survivor’s name. But there is no doubt that this is Laxmi Aggarwal’s story. And we should celebrate Deepika Padukone’s startling transformation into a scarred but never scared soul in that spirit. Director Meghna Gulzar has worked wonders in the past in real-life stories with Alia Bhatt in Raazi and Irrfan Khan-Konkona Sen Sharma-Neeraj Kabi in Talwar. Can’t wait to see where Meghna takes Deepika.
2. Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev in ’83: Though Deepika looks nothing like Mrs Kapil Dev; Ranveer Singh’s likeness to the actual cricketer is uncanny. From what I’ve heard Ranveer has given a performance so close to the real person that the only parallel to be drawn is what Ben Kingley did with Mahatma Gandhi years ago. There are other actors playing other real-life cricketers in Kabir Khan’s sports drama about India’s victory at the 1983 World Cup. But make no mistake this is a Ranveer-as-Kapil story.
3. Kangana Ranaut as Jayalalitha in Thalaivi: Admittedly the response to the first promotional video has been far from encouraging. People are scoffing at Kangana’s attempt to look like Tamil Nadu’s Iron Lady. But why must Kangana LOOK like Jayalalitha? Is it not more important to grab the soul of the real person? Let’s wait and see what this mercurial performer has done with one of the most enigmatic politicians of not only our times but all times.
4. Vidya Balan as Shakuntala Devi in Shakuntala Devi: Once during my childhood I had met the Human Computer in Trinidad, West Indies. Her laughter and her rapid-fire conversation is still embedded in my mind. As far as I am concerned Vidya has the range to portray the boisterousness the Maths genius. Vidya also has the most infectious laughter in the film industry. I am already convinced she is the best Shakuntala Devi.
5. Parineeti Chopra as Saina Nehwal in Saina: It’s not easy playing a living character and that too one so much in the public eye. Shraddha Kapoor realized it soon enough when she was unable to play the badminton queen Saina Nehwal. We can’t wait to see what Parineeti does with the role. Will she look convincing? The cork is in Parineeti’s court.