In the coming month, the Indian theaters will see the releases of two biopics that none of us knew that we needed, or even wanted, but that is basically because of our own ignorance. Sanju and Soorma are the stories based on the lives of the famous Indian actor Sanjay Dutt and the professional field hockey player Sandeep Singh, respectively. And after watching the trailers and doing just a minimal amount of research on the personalities, it is evident as to why we do require these films.
Both Sanjay Dutt and Sandeep Singh are well known and greatly respected individuals of their respective fields, but that is where the similarities in their stories end. Both the have extremely different paths and lives. One is a spoilt brat born with a silver spoon in his mouth, other is a regular Sikh boy born in a regular family in Haryana. One story shows how a privileged boy rose to the top and embraced his demons, while the other is a story of how a broken man picks himself up and rises above his problems. Both the stories could not be any more different. However, which is the story that will get the love of the critics and the audience? Which story would earn more money and which will earn more praise? Who will be the winner of this battle of biopics?
The biography of Sanjay Dutt was announced as the next project of Rajkumar Hirani shortly after the release of PK. And it was very disappointing news for me as I have been a big fan of his works since Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. and the disappointment only grew when Ranbir Kapoor was announced to be playing the lead. How would the borderline skinny chocolate boy play the role of the heavy and muscular almost larger than life character of Sanjay Dutt. These doubts and disappointments washed out instantly the moment the first teaser trailer for the movie dropped on YouTube. Ranbir Kapoor, without doing a cheap mimicry, almost fooled me into believing that Sanjay Dutt was doing the background narration, and the body transformation that he has gone through is mind blowing. It seems like he has encapsulated each and every detail of the trademark mannerisms that Mr. Dutt is known for.
It wasn’t until the release of the full length trailer that we all got to know the main purpose of telling this story. It is a very sensitive issue and a major reason for my apprehension to going out for this movie. I cannot say that this movie is a PR stunt by the team of Sanjay Dutt, but it sure seems like it. In the trailer, the lead character constantly puts himself down, calling himself an addict, a brat, a pervert and so on, but claims that he is not a terrorist. I am not going to comment on if I think it is true or not, but I do believe this is a matter that should be left for the justice system to decide. This appeal to the audience seems a little desperate.
Aside from this the movie seems like an intense yet very entertaining time at the theater. Rajkumar Hirani is one of the, if not the best directors working in the industry. He takes his sweet time to make his films and delivers more than one could expect. Sanju is bound to be a commercial success. It is yet to be seen how the terrorist angle is received by the critiques, but if done right it could be a huge success that will be recognized in the coming award season of the Indian film industry.
The story of Sandeep Singh is the complete opposite. It shows an international hockey player that came from humble beginnings found himself in the middle of a shooting incident and is shot. Paralyzed from the waist down, even walking was a farfetched dream, let alone playing for his country again, but he anyway managed to do both those thing with the help of sheer determination and will to walk again. His is a story that will inspire several people to rise above their shortcomings. The lead role is played by Diljit Dosanjh, a Punjabi singer/actor who has sown a lot of promise in his limited work as an actor in Bollywood. He is most notable for his role in Udta Punjab for which he even won some awards as the best debut actor for the year. Whilst his other movies have not got him as much attention, this film seems to be the one that will launch him into superstardom in no time.
The story has a very indie film vibe to it; however, the trailer suggests that it can very well compete with the best of commercial films, just like Sanju. The one film that dose pop in one’s mind after seeing the trailer is Bhag Milkha Bhag, which was a movie made in a similar genre and as it seems it is going to enjoy a similar success to that of the Farhan Akhtar starer.
Whilst I do appreciate a completely honest and raw telling of a true story, I would not mind if the makers did add some more dramatic elements to the script to make it a more commercialized version of the events. The main concern is to maximize the reach of this story because it is a very important story of hope and overcoming defeat, messages that are well needed to spread amongst the people.
Out of the two Biographies, Sanju will most definitely enjoy its rule at the box office and is going to make a very good amount of money. The very recognizable name of Sanjay Dutt will be a huge factor but the main contributor to its success will be because of the director, Rajkumar Hirani. He has delivered one of the top box office earners in the history of Indian cinema in 3 Idiots. I don’t think it will do the business that will compare to that of 3 Idiots, I Do believe it can be the top earner of this year.
Soorma on the other hand will enjoy more praise from the critiques. The director of this film is Shaad Ali, who has not had a lot of success in his recent releases; this could be the movie to pull him back on the top. along with the critical praise, this movie should be able to make a significant mark on the box office collection in the week of its release.
The results will be seen after the release of Soorma in the month of July.