M.S. Dhoni: The untold story
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla
A biopic on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India’s most successful skipper in international cricket, was obviously a film to look forward to, especially since it was coming from a Neeraj Pandey, a director who has already made his mark with interesting films such as A Wednesday and Special 26. The official endorsement by the normally reticent Dhoni and the constant chatter about Sushant Singh Rajput’s arduous preparation for the role then added further to the hype.
So how is the film? Does it really tell the famed cricketer’s untold story?
What’s the plot?
A Ranchi-based school boy- Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who loves football and has no intention of playing cricket, is picked up to be the school team’s wicketkeeper, after the coach spots his hand-eye skills while goalkeeping! Mahi (as he is fondly called!) grows up to become one of the local cricket stars, famed more for his whirlwind six-hitting batting. His father, a pump operator, is worried about Mahi’s future; unsure whether cricket would provide his son a secure livelihood. But Mahi’s loyal fast friends are convinced that he is destined for greater heights in the game.
His unconventional cricketing technique, his unfancied state team and the poor organizational support from local cricket association keeps Mahi from getting a look-in at the national selection. Working as a railways ticket collector, he bides his time at Kharagpur, almost losing the will the fight it out. But then he gets the opportunity. Will he make it count?
· The first half of the film, which shows Dhoni’s unplanned entry into cricket, his rise to local stardom and his struggle to make his mark at the national level, is racy and extremely watchable.
· Neeraj Pandey lovingly tells the story of a talented, small town boy who took on the so-called big boys’ club in Indian cricket and ultimately brought home the greatest prize in cricket.
· The real life references, smooth superimpositions on actual match footages and well-constructed original cricketing sequences lend authenticity to the narrative. The World Cup winning moment is a perfect climax.
· Sushant Singh Rajput does full justice to the titular role. He has practically imbibed Dhoni’s sincere, silent yet strong persona and his typical body language for this portrayal. The hard work in preparaing for the role has paid off. It is definitely the best role of his fledgling career.
· The supporting cast playing roles of Dhoni’s family members, friends, mentors, love interests and acquaintances does an excellent job.
· The 3 hour-plus film is too long.
· The second half of the film stutters and seems too cluttered. Ultimately it feels like a fast forward highlights reel.
· Dhoni’s love-life takes up a lot of time and space.
· The songs don’t really fit in.
· The film leaves out many important points such as Dhoni’s dramatic selection as the skipper; his ‘Captain Cool’ and best finisher roles; his wicket-keeping exploits; his test match career and even the road to the World Cup triumph.
· It only makes passing references to his colleagues and the controversies in his career. Isn’t that expected from an officially endorsed biopic of a still active cricketer?
M.S. Dhoni- The untold story is an interesting sports saga and an inspiring biopic. If what is told here is the strength of the film, then what is left untold is the weakness. The telling of some largely unknown dramatic tales in this magnificent cricketer’s life and career makes the film a must-see proposition, but keeping mum over many other interesting cricketing aspects doesn’t let it rise to the sports classic status.