• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
  • Editorial Calendar 19-20
BW Businessworld

'Dangal': An Inspirational True Story

Aamir Khan starrer Dangal has the potential to be the highest box office collection film in the history of Indian cinema

Photo Credit :


'Dangal' is a Hindi language word used for a 'wrestling competition.'

In the year 2012, a Walt Disney executive reads a newspaper article about the inspiring story of Mahavir Singh Phogat ('MSP'). Seeing good merit in the idea, Disney engages with Nitesh Tiwari and herein begins the journey of penning the biographical story of MSP. The key storyline is about a father-daughter relationship and how MSP had a personal goal to win a Gold Medal in Wrestling for India. While he was unable to do so, MSP decided to live this dream through the life of two of his daughters, who he trained to become professional wrestlers. A truly remarkable storyline!

In the year 2013, Disney approaches Aamir Khan for playing the role of MSP. Aamir suggests doing the film when he turns 60; but consequently changes his mind. Since MSP's role in the film is that of a 20-year-old and that of a 60-year-old, there was a fair amount of preparation that was needed. Aamir conceded to do the role because the 'storyline' stayed in his 'mind.'

Aamir then worked closely with Nitesh to find the most appropriate talent to play the key roles of the two daughters of MSP, who are Geeta and Babita. After a fairly rigorous selection process, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra are chosen for the respective roles. Aamir also identified Kripa Shankar Bishnoi, a wrestler from Indore to provide the wrestling training. Kripa has won a number of international medals and he is the coach of the Indian Women's Wrestling team.

On Wednesday, October 19th, the trailer of Dangal is released and it is stupendously well received. Aamir and the Disney team have stayed 'true' to the 'content' of the film and the viewers appreciated this very much. The Dangal trailer has now clocked nearly 39 million views. The key theme of the film, which is the father-daughter relationship along with a patriotic background and an underdog winning, is beyond engaging.

Following the trailer, about a month later, social media is taken by storm when Aamir's video of 'Fat to Fit' is released. This video has over 10 million views on YouTube. The idea of having one of India's finest and most prominent actors showcase his belly and his graying hair is quite bold and it also illustrates Aamir's level of commitment in doing the role of MSP. Incidentally, 80 per cent of the film's part that features Aamir has him as the father and hence he will have an older-look in most of the film.

From a positioning standpoint, the trailer portrayed that the film is entertaining and also has a social message, which makes it a 'rare' gem for audiences. The screenplay and dialogues also seem to be very appealing.

The production budget of the film is in the range of Rs 30 crore; wherein, most of these spends are towards making the film. Aamir usually works on a profit share basis and he does not charge his fees in cash. In the case of Dangal, Aamir Khan Productions has also line-produced the feature and Disney will only share in the profits of the film.

On the marketing side, the spends have been very limited. Even the advertisements in print publications are quite nominal, which is prudent and effective. It also sets a new benchmark for how a film's marketing costs can be well contained.

Dangal also has only three brand associations, which is with Vivel; Datsun and Bournvita.

Dangal will release on 4,300 screens in India and the film is targeting 1,000 screens overseas. Given that there is no competitive film for at least three weeks and since there are holidays for the New Year, Dangal will have an astounding box office collection.

The film's music rights have been placed with Zee Music for around Rs 12-15 crore and the film's Television Rights are placed with Zee for around Rs 50 crore.

Overall, Dangal has the potential to be the highest box office collection film in the history of Indian cinema.