Disaster drama and the desi screen

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New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) Disaster drama as a genre is not exactly a favourite of mainstream filmmakers anywhere in India because it is normally not considered a lucrative box office option. Unlike Hollywood, we are yet to see many brilliant films in the genre like “Outbreak” or “Contagion”, which explore the outbreak of disease as a theme. Most of our disaster dramas so far have pertained to natural or man-made calamity.

IANS looks at some of the notable films in the genre, across languages.

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Toplined by Amitabh Bachchan, Yash Chopra’s multistarrer drama was scripted by Salim-Javed. The film is perhaps the most high-profile film that Bollywood has ever attempted in the disaster drama genre. Although a work of fiction, the film is based on the Chasnala mining tragedy that occurred in a coal mine of the Chasnala area in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, on December 27, 1975. An explosion inside the mine caused flooding, which killed 380 miners. Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Raakhee, Parveen Babi and Neetu Singh comprised the multi-star cast.

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VIRUS (2019)

The Malayalam-language medical thriller, directed by Aashiq Abu, unfolds against the backdrop of the 2018 Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. Featuring Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Tovino Thomas, Ramya Nambeeshan, Joju George and Revathi among others, the film is scripted by Muhsin Parari, Sharfu and Suhas.

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Although more hyped as Sara Ali Khan’s debut feature, Abhishek Kapoor’s film starring Sushant Singh Rajput is the only Bollywood film set against the backdrop of the 2013 Uttarakhand floods. The film used the disaster backdrop to set up a love story between a upper caste Hindu girl and a Muslim ‘pithoo’ (porter) who operates in the valley around the Kedarnath temple.


Release as “Dashavatar” in Hindi, the Kamal Haasan film is billed as a sci-fi disaster drama. The KS Ravikumar film stars Kamal Haasan in 10 roles. The actor also wrote the script and screenplay. Also featuring Asin and Mallika Sherawat, the film is about a research scientist who develops a bio-weapon and must ensure it does not fall in the hands of a terrorist nation.

TUM MILE (2009)

Set against the July 2005 Mumbai floods, the film stars Emraan Hashmi and Soha Ali Khan. It is a rimantic that unfolds against the backdrop of the floods and is directed by Kunal Deshmukh. More than the disaster quotient if the film, it is best recalled for a few foot-tapping songs credited to composer Pritam.

KAI PO CHE! (2013)

Although not strictly a disaster flick, the genre plays a significant role in the buddy binding film’s plot progression. A big part of the story evolves around the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, as well as the Godhra train burning a year later. Based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel “The 3 Mistakes Of My Life”, the film features Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao, Amit Sadh and Amrita Puri.


Mahesh Mathai’s film is a searing comment on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984. Featuring Kay Kay Menon, Nethra Raguraman and Naseeruddin Shah as its primary cast, the film takes an unflinching look at how irresponsible functioning of big corporates can destroy millions of common lives. Scripted by Prasoon and Piyush Pandey, the film narrates the tragic tale of how leaked poison gas from the Union Carbide factory spread over 20 square kilometres, killing thousands in a single night.


Also based on the Bhopal gas leak tragedy of 1984, Ravi Kumar’s disaster drama has an ensemble cast comprising Hollywood actors Martin Sheen, Misha Barton and Kal Penn along with Rajpal Yadav, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Vinit Kumar. The film looks at the real-life tragedy through the fictional story.

DAM 999 (2011)

Based on China’s Banqiao dam burst tragedy of in 1975, the film looks at the threat that bug dams can pose for humanity. The tragedy claimed nearly 2,50,000 lives, and is narrated through the story of a marine engineer who returns to his village with his son, in search for medication of his diabetes. Sohan Roy’s film features Vinay Rai, Ashish Vidyarthi, Joshua Fredric Smith, Rajit Kapur, Vimala Raman and Linda Arsenio.



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