Ahead of Saina release, from M S Dhoni The Untold Story to Saand ki Aankh, how Bollywood sports biopics of last decade fared

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Updated: March 26, 2021 12:44 PM

As Parineeti Chopra starrer Saina makes to the theatres this Friday, here’s looking back at how sports sagas fared, the ones that created a benchmark and the others that landed with a dull thud.

ports biopic, Saina, Dangal, mary Kom, Saand Ki aankh, M S DhoniHow Bollywood sports biopics of last decade has fared

Fan following for both Sports and Cinema is unprecedented in India but rarely has it crossed lines on the silver screen until Shah Rukh Khan’s Chak De India set records straight at the Box Office. The success of the Shah Rukh starrer based on the real-life story of Mir Ranjan Negi, a former Indian hockey goalkeeper who made the Indian women’s team win the Commonwealth Games gold in 2002, made filmmakers take interest in sports as a subject in Hindi Cinema and since then several sport-based films, make it to the theatres.

Most of these are biopics or are based on real-life sporting events, major historical wins but has tended to gloss over the rough patches, controversies related to it. Such hagiographies although create a nail-biting suspense thriller yet give only a glorified version of the person’s.

The premises of the National Award Winning film Chhichhore is also sports, where hostelers take recourse to all kinds of ‘tikdam’ (shortcuts) to ace in the games.

As Parineeti Chopra starrer Saina makes to the theatres this Friday, here’s looking back at how sports sagas fared, the ones that created a benchmark and the others that landed with a dull thud.


The most popular sports biopic Dangal followed the story of the Phogat sisters. And how their names became synonymous with wrestling in Haryana. Dangal did a great job in explaining wrestling to its audience and provided an engaging narrating of the father-daughter equation. The movie vigorously recaptures a father’s resolve to make his daughters live his dream against all odds.

The movie set the festive Box office Collection roaring with Rs 702 crore worldwide earning according to Box Office India and is one of the highest grosser films in India till date.

M S Dhoni, The Untold Story

Directed by Neeraj Pandey, M S Dhoni came to the theatres when the sportsperson was very much in action. However, unlike its tile, there was nothing new for the audience to decipher than what was already known from unlimited media coverage about his life and career. As a film, it stays true to every bit of highs in Dhoni’s life from being discovered by his sports teacher to making it to the Indian team without hovering much around the controversies in his life. Its big win was Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance who made an unbelievable Dhoni right from imitating his body language to the iconic helicopter shot.

The movie was a huge Box Office success making Rs 189.83 crores worldwide according to Box Office India

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

The film begins from the point when Milkha Singh had to bite the dust at the 1960 Rome Olympics. The film hovering around the Partition, the struggle faced by Milkha Singh, his days in the Army made for an inspiring story. Farhan’s performance was sincere and nuanced.

The movie earned Rs 163.78 crore worldwide according to the Box Office India.

Mary Kom

The first biopic of a woman athlete to see commercial success. Even with stark criticism about casting Priyanka Chopra for the lead role, the movie earned praise from movie enthusiasts as it managed to get viewers to take interest in May Kom’s story little known to the masses. Priyanka Chopra gave a stellar performance. Director Omung tried to highlight not just Mary Kom’s story but also issues like ignorance of Indians about the North-East, women empowerment, shoddy treatment of athletes, difficulty women have in balancing domestic duties and career.

The movie made Rs 86.19 crores worldwide according to Box Office India.


Director’s Shaad Ali’s film was about the life of Indian hockey player Sandeep Singh who won the Arjuna award but his career was interrupted by an accident. The movie is about his rise to the international circuit as a hockey player and incredible grit to recover and return to the field from a career-ending injury.

The movie starring Daljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi made Rs 48.07 crores worlwide according to the Box Office India

Saand Ki Aankh

Story of two female sharpshooters from Haryana, Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, Saand Ki Aankh. The women-centric film shows up overheated Bollywood dramas about women wadding through gender prejudice. It isn’t the most subtle sports film one can see but is crisply made. Bhumi Pednekar and Taapse Pannu’s performance too hit the bull’s-eye.

The movie made total Rs 30.49 Crores worldwide according to  Box Office India.

Paan Singh Tomar

One of the finest performance of Irrfan, Paan Singh Tomar is about an athlete whose circumstances made him turn to a dreaded dacoit in the Chambal valley. Toman sprints over hurdles with the same ease and determination as he used to murder men who try to deprive him of his ancestral land. So graceful was Irrfan’s depiction of a grey character that even when he meets his inevitable fate, there is something heroic about it.

The film won the Best Feature Film and Irrfan the Best Actor in the 60th National Film Awards 2012. At Box Office though the movie made Rs 20.88 crores worldwide according to the  Box Office India.

After Saina, here’s waiting for ’83, Maidaan, Sabaash Mithu, Rashmi Rochet to ooze charm on the audience and sprint past the Box Office records.

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