New Delhi: The teaser of Rajkumar Hirani’s biopic on Sanjay Dutt titled Sanju was released on Tuesday, leaving critics and audiences in a frenzy. While the launch and the film’s tagline ‘one man..many lives’ trended all day on microblogging site Twitter, the teaser had garnered 16 million (16,299,355) views in less than 24 hours on video-sharing website YouTube with industry experts pointing out the acute similarity between lead actor Ranbir Kapoor and Dutt’s looks.
The film that has been in the making for more than a year and in the news for more than a couple of years now, had moved its release date quite a few times before settling on 29 June 2018. Hirani and his team also battled much speculation on the keenly awaited title, with Dutt and Sanju being some options. But the one-and-a-half minute clip that shows Kapoor, in an unusual promotional strategy, breaking the fourth wall to introduce snippets of Dutt’s tumultuous life, has caught attention instantly.
By virtue of being backed by Fox Star Studios, the Sanju teaser had the advantage of being aired on all Star India channels besides its video streaming app Hotstar on Tuesday, cashing in on traction from the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.
Hirani’s film claims audiences will witness everything from Dutt’s drug addiction to his imprisonment and multiple marriages.
However, Sanju is only one of the many biopics that Bollywood awaits in the coming months: there is Kangana Ranaut-starrer Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Anupam Kher’s take on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s life in The Accidental Prime Minister and Hrithik Roshan’s Super 30 based on Bihar-based mathematician Anand Kumar.
Distributor Fox Star Studios is said to have bought Sanju from co-producers Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani for a fat Rs180 crore. Fox Star is currently riding high in Bollywood—its six releases in 2017 including blockbusters like Akshay Kumar’s satirical comedy Jolly LLB 2, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt-starrer Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Dhawan’s action comedy Judwaa 2,earned about Rs440 crore in domestic collections alone.
Sanju also comes from the stable of Rajkumar Hirani, who has never delivered a flop in his career. At collections of more than Rs340 crore, his last film, PK, is the second highest grossing Hindi film and the third highest grossing Indian film ever, after Aamir Khan’s Dangal and S.S Rajamouli’s war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. Other blockbusters include 3 Idiots, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Munnabhai MBBS, the last two featuring Dutt in the lead.
To be sure, the litmus test this time is for lead actor Ranbir Kapoor, who hasn’t had the best of luck at the box office for a while. Kapoor’s last release, the massively delayed Jagga Jasoos, ended up with Rs54 crore. Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil may have saved some face with Rs112 crore but trade analysts believe Kapoor’s last legitimate hit was Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani which released five years ago.
But Sanju is unlike any other biopic made in Bollywood. As industry experts point out, in this case, the subject—Dutt—is not just alive and active but very much part of the film industry.
“Sanju has a great theme but it remains to be seen how much of Dutt’s life, along with the grey shades, they will really show," said film critic Baradwaj Rangan. “It could be a landmark biopic in that sense."
All data sourced from bollywoodhungama.com