The biggest challenge for any director to achieve success while attempting a biopic in my opinion is the time factor wherein they have to condense the entire life into a two and a half hour drama, something which is not that easy considering the different facets of the life of the person to be depicted on screen. So refining the most important, unheard-of but attractive part of life that would be catchy to the audience becomes paramount importance.
We have seen some best sports biopics emanating from Bollywood and I would pick Baag Milkha Baag, Paan Singh Tomar and Budhia Singh: Born to run as my personal favourites. Mary Kom is also not bad but I wouldn’t put it in the league of the first three which were much more refined in their narration.
Neeraj Pandey attempts a biopic on the life of M.S.Dhoni. Well, thats a towering challenge considering the stature and fan following that Dhoni has along with some of the criticisms that he is part of. Also the fact that Mahi as he is fondly called by his close associates and relatives is still very much active in International cricket and that makes it almost a herculean task for Neeraj and his team to deliver it big.
After watching M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story, what that comes up to my mind is ‘Playing It My Way”, the autobiography of Sachin Tendulkar. Just like the book on Sachin, this film on MSD also choose the safe passage of staying away from some controversial innings of the cricketer’s life that would have made the film much more exciting paving the way for some hot discussions in the coming days. Of course, some little known but interesting things are shown but overall the film with all the limitations in the form of Dhoni’s active involvement in International cricket in the shorter and slam bang versions of the game even now puts it on a safe and watchable platform.
The story, well doesn’t need a big guessing game as such. Its the rise of the boy from a little known place called Ranchi who went on to become one of the most successful captain of Team India. Captain Cool as he is referred to, the movie throw lights on his initial years before getting noticed and also gives a picture on how he comes into the limelight of Indian cricket. Beginning from the year of his birth in 1981 till 2011 when India wins the Wkrl Cup, the film is a journey of how he achieve success and who all are the people behind his transformation to a successful cricketer.
A highly impressive first half is where the film scores more and it is this portion that really show his real life from where he starts from scratch and become one of the best finishers of modern day cricket. Little known things like how he learns the famous helicopter shot, Mahi getting the autograph of Sachin for a fellow passenger during a flight journey, his rivalry with Yuvraj Singh at the domestic level when the two are yet to make their International debut are all some highlights that catch your attention. That World Cup winning moment both the T20 and 50 over finals gets recreated and are truly goosebumps creating moments for anyone who loves the game.
The shift in focus in the second half towards the romantic side of Dhoni’s life, the movie loosen its style and pace. Screenplay isn’t that effective and is primarily intended in glorifying the cricketer and in that the director has succeeded. So for the fans of MSD, it is a treat but for others it is partly good.
There is no mention of any controversies connected with the IPL fiasco nor does the names of senior cricketers mentioned during a selection committee meeting where Dhoni bats for youth and for taking some tough decisions. They have purposefully blacked out the voice part in that scene. The reason for Dhoni getting himself promoted up the order in World cup finals ahead of a padded Yuvraj was a discussion point those days and the answer to that is there in the movie. At three hours the duration is on the higher side but it doesn’t affect the pace as such in a big way.
For Sushant Singh Rajput, its never an easy task filling into Dhoni’s shoes and transforming himself to a cricketer on screen. The challenge was huge but the actor has put in lot of efforts which is clearly evident from his body language. The way Dhoni walks, his facial expressions and body movement all of which are so familiar to us have been given a perfect facelift by the actor and it was a ideal casting. All those cricketing shots when he plays for India I believe have been morphed but at the domestic level cricket we can see Sushant perfectly enacting the shots that Dhoni plays.
Anupam Kher though had little role effectively did his part as Dhoni’s father Paan Singh Dhoni. Rajesh Sharma was a notable actor among the supporting side as he was entrusted to play the role of MSD’s coach during his school days. Both the heroines Disha Patani and Kiara Advani were not bad. Bhoomika Chawla in a less prominent role couldn’t do much.
Overall, MS.Dhoni: The Untold Story is not a bad attempt considering the challenge it had but it falls short of something exceptional. Definitely a must watch film if you are a die-hard fan of cricketer Dhoni but for a normal audience its just a passable film.