Debutant director Rajkumar Hirani was famously told by trade pundits that a film without songs in foreign locations, set in a hospital and starring Sanjay Dutt as a likeable gangster was a doomed premise. Hirani, however, stuck to his script and created a memorable film that revived the Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Manmohan Desai brand of filmmaking.
It starred Sanjay Dutt as Murli Prasad Sharma aka Munna, Arshad Warsi as Sarkeshwar aka Circuit, Boman Irani as Dr. Asthana, Gracy Singh as Dr. Suman and Sunil Dutt as Hari Prasad Sharma, who faced the camera after 16 years to play father to his son. The film, filled with humour and drama in equal measure, follows the journey of a small-time gangster who goes to medical school after a lie to his father falls through. Once he cons his way into medical school, Munna manages to get on the wrong side of Dean almost immediately and then makes it worse by falling in love with his daughter. He also goes around the hospital winning hearts of ailing patients and the staff with his ‘jaadu ki jhappi’. The tapori Hindi lines with phrases like ‘subah ho gayi mamu’ written by Abbas Tyrewala acquired a cult status when the film released.
Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Munna Bhai MBBS won multiple awards in 2004 including the National Award for Best Popular Film, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie and Best Dialogue. It received both commercial success and critical acclaim.