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Azhar makes a sedate start at the box office

Emraan Hashmi-starrer biopic on disgraced Indian cricket ex-captain bags Rs20.25 crore in opening weekend

Mayur Lookhar

Emraan Hashmi in a still from Azhar

In this age of T20 cricket, when one is expected to go bang-bang from the first ball, the first weekend business of the biopic Azhar starring Emraan Hashmi reminds one of the steady start to a One-Day International innings in the early 1990s, when the game plan was to begin cautiously, pick the ones and twos, and go hell for leather in the slog overs.

Azhar, based on the life and times of former India cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin, was released on 13 May 2016. In its opening weekend, the film collected just Rs20.25 crore. According to boxofficeindia.com, the film opened with Rs6.25 crore, fared marginally better on Saturday with Rs6.50 crore, and saw a 15 per cent upward swing on Sunday with Rs7.5 crore, taking its opening weekend collections to Rs20.25 crore.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh pegged the figure for the opening two days at Rs13.30 crore.

Azhar was thought to be one of the more anticipated films of 2016 owing to the controversies that dogged Azharuddin, who was banned for life for cricket for his alleged role in the match-fixing scandal. The ban was overturned by the Andhra Pradesh high court in 2012. The film also looks at the sportsman's personal life. Azharuddin had left his first wife Naureen, the mother of his two sons, to marry model and actress Sangeeta Bijlani.

Azhar evoked mixed reactions from critics, with some going overboard in their praise of Emraan Hashmi and others slamming the film. Critic Mayank Shekhar used the delicacy gaajar ka halwa to describe the film, referring to it as Azhar Ka Halwa.

Emraan Hashmi must be hoping Azhar does better in the second week as his own career has hit a roadblock. The actor has not had a hit to his name since Raaz 3D (2012).