Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s latest movie Sanju is the first biopic the director has attempted. However, the treatment is backed by Hirani’s experience of filmmaking throughout the years, albeit he has only 5 movies, including Sanju, under his belt. All the previous four movies made along with Chopra – Munna Bhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, 3 Idiots and PK – have been blockbuster hits. Hirani serves up what is a tried and tested formula for the Indian audience – family entertainment, topped with a strong underlying social message. His movies work so well and in such a scale that Hirani has become synonymous with blockbuster hits.
Rajkumar Hirani’s previous four movies – with the same ensemble, except for an actor or two – have an estimated collection of more than Rs 1,500 crore. Sanju that is running in theatres now has already collected Rs 186.41 crore and is expected to collect Rs 200 crore before the weekend. And we are only talking about the first week, that too only in India. It has already surpassed Salman Khan’s latest movie, Race 3, that had a two-week head start. By the time, Sanju’s lifetime business is reported, Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra would have raked in around Rs 2,000 crore only through five movies.
In 2003, when Rajkumar Hirani rolled out Munna Bhai MBBS, the director was relatively lesser known. Not only did he become a familiar name after the release of Munna Bhai MBBS, he single-handedly breathed life into Sanjay Dutt’s career that was on a downward spiral with a spate of utterly forgetful movies like Ek Aur Ek Gyarah, Annarth, Hathyar, Maine Dil Tujhko Diya, Yeh Hain Jalwa, Pitaah and so on. Munna Bhai MBBS, reminiscent of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film, soon became one of Hindi film industry’s most memorable movies. Munna Bhai MBBS also made quite a mark in the box office with its collection of an estimated Rs 30 crore.
Hirani followed up Munna Bhai MBBS with Lage Raho Munna Bhai in 2006. Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi reprised their roles as Munna and Circuit. The sequel was exceptionally well received and went on to collect more than twice of what Munna Bhai MBBS had collected. Lage Raho made an estimated Rs 130 crore in the box office. There was no stopping the Vidhu Vinod Chopra-Rajkumar Hirani-Sanjay Dutt combo.
The next movie that Hirani released was 3 Idiots in 2009. The movie starred Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani and Omi Vaidya. 3 Idiots, with its estimated earnings of Rs 460 crore, became the highest-earning Indian movie of that time. The Aamir Khan-starrer coming-of-age comedy-drama, a commentary on the Indian education system, complete with an eccentric madcap authority figure, resonated with moviegoers across the country. The film won accolades across the globe, especially in Asia. It also catapulted Aamir Khan into the Chinese market, making him one of the most-loved stars in the country. His subsequent movies, PK, Dangal and Secret Superstar, also went on to become massive hits in China.
But Hirani was yet to serve up his biggest hit – excluding Sanju. After a gap of five years, Rajkumar Hirani came up with PK in 2014, again with Aamir Khan. This time they were joined by Anushka Sharma and Sushant Singh Rajput. Through the trope of an alien, handled playfully, Hirani exposed the hypocrisies of the Indian society. And yes, the alien landed in India. Take that, America! With an estimated collection of Rs 960 crore, PK became the highest grossing Indian movie of that time and is still one of the highest-grossing Indian movies.
Again after a gap of five years, Rajkumar Hirani came up with Sanju. Although it is difficult to estimate what its lifetime business would be, one can be sure of its blockbuster status with its current collection. In only six days, Sanju has collected Rs 186.41 crore in India alone. It is reported that the movie is doing brilliantly overseas as well.
Looking at his trajectory, one can gauge that Hirani probably has a magic trick to it all. Perhaps a jaadu ki jhappi. Or perhaps, it is Boman Irani, the secret ingredient or it could simply be the resonating plot or Hirani’s filmmaking technique. Perhaps at the beginning of filming his movies Hirani asks himself – if a story needs to be told, can it be told humorously?