MUMBAI — From tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani and low-cost airline founder C.R. Gopinath (in a forthcoming film) to even Harshad Mehta and Nirav Modi who ended up doing scams, and fictitious characters, Hindi cinema has intermittently experimented with entrepreneurs down the years. Here are 10 standout movies in that category.
3 Idiots / 2009
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
The film ultimately showed that we cannot force anyone to succeed without natural aptitude. It asks what would have happened if Lata Mangeshkar had been forced to be a cricketer and shows the genius of a young man (Aamir Khan) who is resourceful and imaginative but is derided by his dean as he does not believe in conventional cramming to shine. How he triumphs forms the delightful crux of this serio-comedy that became a blockbuster.
Avtaar / 1983
Director: Mohan Kumar
An enterprising young man from the start, Avtaar Kishen (Rajesh Khanna) overcomes hardships to become successful. Later, after leaving home thanks ungrateful children with his loving wife, again fights and creates an industrial empire when already old, also starting a home for neglected old parents. The film was a blockbuster—Rajesh Khanna’s last.
Band Baaja Baaraat / 2010
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Two youngsters, one of whom (Anushka Sharma) wants to be a wedding planner, join hands for the business. The film narrates the ups and downs in their business as well as personal relationship—until their own wedding. Ranveer Singh plays the boy. The film was a hit and marked Singh’s successful debut.
English Vinglish / 2012
Director: Gauri Shinde
This film narrates the story of the enterprising but shabbily treated housewife (Sridevi), who makes and sells snacks. But she is mocked at by her husband (Adil Hussein) only because she does not know English. The film shows how she improves upon both her profession and this shortfall as per her husband’s perspective, and makes him realize his mistake. The film was produced by R. Balki, Shinde’s husband.
Guru / 2007
Director: Mani Rathnam
An average success, this film was the dramatized biopic of India’s biggest rags (well, not exactly)-to-riches story—of tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani. Abhishek Bachchan starred in this fairly gripping story that explored the important milestones in his meteoric rise.
Manthan / 1976
Director: Shyam Benegal
The film narrates the true saga of group entrepreneurs with a foresight to act in a way that was good for society and not merely for themselves. Under leaders like a local social worker who took up the cause of the farmers, they formed the Kaira District Co-Operative Milk Producers’ Union in a Gujarat district. All this finally led to the formation of Amul, a dairy cooperative in Anand, Gujarat in 1946, which is now jointly owned by over 2.6 million milk producers, and led to the setting up of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. in 1973. Reportedly, 500,000 members jointly financed the film by donating Rs. 2 each. A new-wave film for its time, it starred Girish Karnad.
Pad-Man / 2018
Director: R. Balki
Another R. Balki enterprise, this film disguised and dramatized the story of social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, though it transported the narrative to a northern state. Akshay Kumar played the role in his home production and the story was how a young man decides to make inexpensive sanitary pads for lower-class women who cannot afford branded ones and thus use dirty cloth, leading to ill-health. The film did decent business.
Rocket Singh—Salesman of the Year / 2010
Though the film did not do well and was not all that engrossing, its theme stood out: it showed that dedication, honesty, prioritizing customers and innovation with incentives was the key to success. The protagonist was a young man (Ranbir Kapoor) who experiments with business models and modules, and the ups and downs he faces.
Sui Dhaaga—Made In India / 2018
Director: Sharat Katariya
The third Yash Raj Films movie in this list after “Band Baaja Baaraat” and “Rocket Singh…,” this film narrates the struggles of a young couple in a village to achieve something for themselves and the country. Nature and man seemingly conspire to put a spanner in their works. Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma played the two bright but harangued souls. However, the film did not do well.
The Big Bull / 2021
Director: Kookie Gulati
The Harshad Mehta dramatized biopic was released on OTT and cut a sorry figure after the brilliant “Scam 1992” that was also based on the same story and played out as a gripping and authentic web series in great detail. Abhishek Bachchan, however, did a great job again after “Guru” in playing yet another Gujarati entrepreneur, who this time, succumbs to over-ambition and goes down disaster lane.