Last week saw the trailer release of the Abhishek Bachchan-starrer The Big Bull, about ‘the biggest scam in the history of the nation’. As a result, obvious comparisons were made and there was much talk on social media comparing the first look of the film to last year’s smash hit series Scam 1992 starring Pratik Gandhi as Harshad Mehta. This is by no means the first time separate projects about the same real life story have released so close to one another. We’ve seen it time and again with frequent examples through the years such as 2002’s The Legend Of Bhagat Singh starring Ajay Devgn and Bobby Deol-starrer 3rd March 1931: Shaheed. Or even across the pond with Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006), both about the story of Truman Capote. From Hollywood biopics to Bollywood prison breaks, below are other, more recent examples of twin projects based on the same story.
Utøya– July 22 (2018) and 22 July (2018)
On July 22nd 2011, far-right extremist named Anders Behring Breivik detonated a car bomb in central Oslo, killing eight people and injuring hundreds. Later that day he carried out a mass shooting at a youth camp killing 69 people. Seven years after the attack, two films were made about the tragic events of that day.
Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, Captain Phillips)’s English-language 22 July follows the events of that day and Breivik’s trial that followed. The same year Norwegian director Erik Poppe made Utoya – July 22, which consists of one long, seemingly unbroken take to help audiences experience the horrid attack.
Jobs (2013) and Steve Jobs (2015)
Joshua Michael Stern’s Jobs saw Ashton Kutcher essay the role of the famous founder and, despite his clear resemblance to the Apple founder, the film met with poor reviews. Two years later Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs similarly aspired to paint a complex character study with Michael Fassbender as the visionary inventor. While the Ashton Kutcher version took the more conventional biopic approach, Boyle (which met with far more acclaim and multiple Oscar nominations) took a different, more ambitious approach. It unfolds through three three long unbroken scenes, each taking place during the day of a new product launch. Boyle’s version focusses on Jobs’ strained relationships with those around him.
The Loudest Voice (2019) And Bombshell (2019)
Jay Roach’s 2019 film Bombshell follows the stories of the three women (Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie) who had the courage to come forward and condemn Fox News-head Roger Ailes’ predatory behaviour and the toxic work culture he imposed. The film was told from the perspective of the women with John Lithgow playing Ailes. A few months earlier the very same story was told with a different approach in the Showtime miniseries The Loudest Voice with Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes (a performance which won him a Golden Globe for “Best Actor In A Limited Series).
While the film version follows a shorter span the days leading up to the three women coming forward and the aftermath and subsequent downfall of Ailes, The Loudest Voice covers more ground and focuses more on the man himself. It covers key moments from two decades of his life focusing on the formation and early years of Fox News, the culture he created, right through to his eventual downfall.
Lucknow Central (2017) And Qaidi Band (2017)
The similarities between the Nikkhil Advani-produced Lucknow Central, starring Farhan Akhtar, and Yash Raj Films’ Qaidi Band starring newcomers Aadar Jain and Anya Singh, is uncanny, though the finer details of the narrative and characters across the two films differ. Based on a true story, both are about a group of wrongly accused inmates who start a prison band as a ploy to plan their escape. What’s more, both films released within 20 days of each other.
Phullu (2017) and Pad Man (2018)
While they may differ in terms of budget, packaging and approach, Abhishek Saxena’s Phullu, starring Sharib Hashmi, and R Balki’s Pad Man, starring Akshay Kumar, both tell the same core story. Both films revolve around a man who devotes his life to making affordable sanitary napkins for the women in their village. Both are inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, the inventor of a low cost sanitary pad machine. While the Akshay Kumar-starrer focuses more on the struggles and eventual success of the man himself, Phullu chooses to focus more on how we overlook the importance of menstrual hygiene.