The much anticipated biopic on Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets some parts right, and some parts wrong. It captures the essence of the man, but fails to deliver the complete “untold” story.
Majority of people like me, who follow cricket, know Dhoni’s story in bits and pieces. His days as a ticket collector, simple background and the struggle with board politics to finally emerge as India’s most successful captain. The trailer of M.S Dhoni-The Untold Story promised all of it, and attached reputable names like Sushant Singh Rajput and Neeraj Pandey. It was a no brainer then, that this film needs to be catched earliest. But was it a good decision?
The opening scene is arguably one of the best I’ve seen this year. Director and writer Neeraj Pandey pumps up ounces of energy within us before we head to the flashback. The movie, until its interval, then becomes the story of how an ordinary young lad from a small town overcomes numerous obstacles to achieve big in sports – a career never considered as one by Indian parents. Dhoni’s journey is ordinary, but inspiring. With brilliant camera work and Pandey’s trademark humor thrown in, the movie keeps you invested in the journey. At a point, you do feel like an interval is due now (when it’s actually a mile away) but it doesn’t necessarily bore you.
The problem arises post interval. Just when you are happy to see Dhoni finally getting selected in the Indian team, Pandey decides to take a standard Bollywood route. Yes, the two love stories.
No, there’s nothing wrong in showcasing Dhoni’s love life. But it is so cheesily handled that even the audience started rolling their eyes. Romance isn’t something that Neeraj handles well. It was evident in Special 26, where the Akshay-Kajol subplot was the only flaw in an otherwise perfect film. Both Disha and Kiara as Sakshi and Priyanka are decent, but the songs and terrible screenplay overstays their welcome.
Every cricket fan out there was only hoping to learn more about Dhoni like he is today. Alas, we never get that. While the use of VFX to replace Dhoni’s face in real footage with Sushant’s was decent enough at best, it added nothing new to stuff that we already knew. In the cost of delving too much into his personal life, we never get to see what actually makes Dhoni one of the best cricketers of the world.
The one factor that binds the film is of course, SSR playing MSD. Right from his walking style, to his helicopter shot, to the smile he gives during interviews and ad-shoots – everything is exactly like what I have noticed from Mahi. It’s not just these details, but the vulnerability and sincerity he adds to it, that makes the role, character and the film so special. Three films down, and Sushant is already in the league of talents like Ranbir and Ranveer for me.
Special mention also goes to the actor playing the younger version of a particular player. I won’t reveal the name to those who haven’t seen it yet, but he steals some of the best moments of the film.
In the end, you feel like you are in a buffet filled with a variety of delicious dishes. But instead of having the unique and special ones, you end up having the kind of food that you always eat at home. But, it’s tasty nonetheless.
M.S Dhoni is Sushant’s strongest performance, but Pandey’s weakest film.