Will opening for Dhoni biopic be second only to Sultan's this year?

The Salman Khan-starrer recorded the highest opening day collections this year and trade buzz suggests that M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story has the potential of coming in second. 

Keyur Seta

Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story started making the right noise from the time the project was announced. On the road to its release, it has become one of the most keenly awaited films of the year. The thing that has worked most for the film is the trailer. It has generated excitement even among those who aren’t die-hard cricket fans. In other words, it has taken the film's appeal beyond the target audience.

After a successful run in TV serials, Sushant Singh Rajput has gained acceptance in Hindi cinema too. Although his ambitious project, Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015), didn’t succeed at the box office, he has gained appreciation for films like Kai Po Che (2012) and Shuddh Desi Romance (2013). So, if his Dhoni succeeds, it will boost his career. Thankfully for Rajput, the audience has already accepted him as the on-screen Dhoni, going by the reception to the trailers.

The advance booking for the film started five days before its release, which is a rarity these days. After glancing through ticket booking websites, the response does look positive. In Mumbai, the most important centre as far as the box office is concerned, a few shows are already sold out. 

Trade analyst Amul Vikas Mohan believes that even if tickets aren’t booked in advance, MS Dhoni stands a good chance of making big earnings. "These days, advance booking doesn’t always happen in large numbers," Mohan said. "But the buzz around the film is great. The audience is looking forward to it. Dhoni is a relevant personality. He is still playing for India. He is also promoting the film.” 

So far this year, the record for highest opening day collections belongs to Salman Khan’s Sultan, which earned about Rs38 crore on the first day. Second in line is Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan with Rs18 crore. Going by the pre-release buzz, it looks as if the Rajput-starrer stands a chance to replace Fan in the list. 

Mohan does believe so, but says the entire first weekend's business depends on how the film turns out. “It can be. I don’t see why it can’t happen. As I said, the buzz is strong, so it can open very big. If the movie turns out to be good, the opening weekend will be very good,” he said. 

The film has reportedly been made at a high budget of Rs80 crore. But Mohan says this should not be a concern if the content of the film is accepted. He said, "The budget of the film is high. But that is secondary if the film turns out to be good. It will get covered if the film impresses audiences.” 

So, all eyes are on 30 September. A lot of questions will be answered, including whether Rajput will become a name to reckon with at the box office.