The great business done by Bollywood veteran Aamir Khan’s Dangal in the first very week of its release has good news for the Indian sportspersons. In the nation starved on sporting heroes, except from the cricket oval, the appreciation of films based on sportspersons is good news and reflects people’s interest in various sports. The biopic on Indian wrestler and coach, Mahavir Singh Phogat, whose daughter Babita Phogat won accolades for the nation at international level, crossed the much sought-after Rs 100-crore mark in its first weekend itself. The film which stars newcomers Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra and TV veteran Sakshi Tanwar, making her big screen debut, in lead roles, received an overwhelming response doing a humongous business of Rs 42.35 crore on Sunday last to take the first weekend total to an almost unbeatable figure of Rs 106.95 crore. The film’s Tamil and Telugu versions have also been concurrently release and these figures include their collections also. Earlier in the year, a biopic on Indian cricket legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni was released. MS Dhoni -- The Untold Story, which was released in Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi versions alongside Hindi had managed to break into the Rs 100 crore box-office collection club in just nine days’ time. Directed by Neeraj Pandey, the film based on India’s Captain Cool was on its way to becoming the most successful biopic of all time before the ‘Dangal’ challenge, posed by a bigger budget and bigger star-cast film. The release of the two films in languages other than Hindi has underlined the pan-India appeal of the sportspersons. Before the two films, in 2014, Mary Kom, a biopic directed by Omung Kumar and produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the world champion woman boxer made admirable box office collections. The film starred Priyanka Chopra in the lead role of the eponymous boxer, with Darshan Kumar and Sunil Thapa in supporting roles as her husband and mentor. The film depicted Kom’s journey of becoming a boxer to her victory at the 2008 World Boxing Championships in Ningbo. Writer Saiwyn Quadras had suggested the storyline to Kumar when Kom, despite her numerous achievements, was not a familiar name in India. Kumar met Kom to take her permission for the film, much before her bronze medal victory at the 2012 Summer Olympics, which brought her recognition. At the box office this film, too, managed to gross over Rs 100 crore.
The trend of biopics on the sportspersons could be said to have started in the right earnest with Farhan Akhtar-starrer Bhag Milkha Bhag. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra from a script written by adman Prasoon Joshi, the film was based on the life of legendary athlete Milkha Singh, who missed a medal at the Olympics by a whisker. Milkha Singh, affectionately called Flying Singh, has ruled the hearts of people in North India during the 1960s. This film, too, went to become a box-office super-hit and also gain international acclaim.