Bollywood has seen limited sports based movies until now, but the year 2016 will bring a change with over five films based on sports gearing up for release. From R Madhavan's "Saala Khadoos" to Aamir Khan's "Dangal", there is a plethora of sports-based stories on the big screen.

Starting with Madhavan's film, "Saala Khadoos" is a sports drama revolving around boxing. The film features Madhavan as a boxing coach and newcomer Ritika Singh as an aspiring boxer. Emraan Hashmi's "Azhar" is a biographical sports drama based on the life of the former Indian international cricketer, Mohammad Azharuddin.

Next in the line is Salman Khan's "Sultan" in which he will be seen as a wrestler and will try out mixed martial arts. In September, Neeraj Pandey's biopic on Indian skipper MS Dhoni will be released, while in December, Aamir Khan's "Dangal" based on former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat will hit screens.

"Earlier, film-makers usually made movies that were considered safe, like love stories, action films, etc. Also, most of the sports-based films that were attempted in the earlier decades didn't do well, so no one ventured into that territory for many years. Now is a good time as far as the variety in plots is concerned, because film-makers are trying different kinds of stories. I'm glad that more sports films are now being made in India," filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani said.

Apart from these releases, there are several biopics in the pipeline based on several sports personalities, including Saina Nehwal, wrestler Gama Pehalwan, footballer Sibdas Bhaduri, hockey player Dhyan Chand and Sandeep Singh. The rise in the sports based films is mainly because actors desire to do roles that are more challenging, feels trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

"Despite being a sports-loving nation, unfortunately, we haven't generously experimented with sports as a theme in our films. But now, actors want to experiment with fresher themes and sports provide a gripping backdrop. It's great that some of the top names in Bollywood are part of such films," Adarsh said.

On the other hand, exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi feels that the success of films like "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" and "Mary Kom" has worked in the favour of such movies. "Since we have been watching these sports or hearing about these many sports personalities since childhood, the sheer connect with such films is immediate and very strong," he added.