M S Dhoni: The Untold Story...Makings of a hit, but targets big

M S Dhoni: The Untold Story’ is one biopic that has caused enough curiosity in the trade circles as well as amongst moviegoers. While most biopic come years after the person and his/her heroics have faded from the public memory, this one comes just in time. Even as Indian cricketer Dhoni probably now is closer to calling it a day, the legend and excitement is still very much alive.

The first half is all about the untold part of Dhoni’s life: his dreams and struggles. Something that few have known or cared to know as long as their idol was excelling on the field.

The coach of the school cricket team, Rajesh Sharma, is at his wits end as the lad he counted on as the team’s wicket-keeper has ditched him. It is only two months to exams and his parents think studies are more important than cricket. Can’t blame the parents since, till then, cricket had remained more a metro-centric game. At least, as far as team selections and spotting new talents were concerned. Cricket as a career had no future for small town lads.

Sharma happens to watch the school football team practicing and the goalkeeper catches his eye. The lad does not let a single shot get through to the post. But, Dhoni, (Sushant Singh Rajput) would have none of it: playing with a small ball is not his idea of sport. Also, when it comes to cricket, he would rather bat than field. Finally, when Rajput agrees, his father, Anupam Kher, is reluctant. As he grows, Dhoni, keeps on improving his skills and makes progress locally moving from a Rs 600/ pm stipend to Rs. 1500 and, finally, landing a job with the Railways as a ticket checker.

Dhoni keeps taking big strides but local authorities’ negligence results in him missing a chance to be selected for the Under-19 Indian team. The budding cricketer is depressed as his career is stuck as a ticket checker.

Dhoni’s luck seems to brighten up eventually. The chairman of the Indian cricket board (late ex-Chairman Jagmohan Dalmia lookalike) decides to spot talent from the hinterlands of India instead of just concentrating on big towns. Dhoni’s skills are noticed. But, there are four other contenders for the wicket-keeper’s job. Finally, it is Dhoni’s batting, coupled with his wicket-keeping abilities, which earns him a spot in the national team.

After failing badly in initial matches, Dhoni makes his presence felt with a century and, for him, there is no looking back thereafter. He is selected to lead Team India and scales glories as his team wins both the One-Day as well as T20 world championships.

The long first half is all about Dhoni’s struggles and the ultimate rise to the top.

The second half deals mainly with a celebrated cricketer’s life beyond the game. Dhoni comes across his first love, Disha Patani, at a time when he has failed on his debut. While Dhoni is in Pakistan playing for the country, Disha, out to buy a Valentine’s Day gift for him lost in the thoughts, meets with a fate that alters the love narrative.

Dhoni meets Sakshi (Kiara Advani), a trainee with a 5-star Kolkata hotel who has no knowledge about cricket. Taken in by her innocence, love happens to Dhoni again.

The film attempts to go too much into the details of Dhoni’s life and takes its own time doing so. In the process, its run time extends to three hours and five minutes. The film misses out on the vital junctures of his life like his appointment as the captain bypassing many senior players of the time.

Rather than showcase the cricketer’s prowess as a wicket-keeper, which was his forte, most of the footage is devoted to his batting capabilities and how it often helped India win. All that should have come in the latter part of the film that lacks in cricket and concentrates more on his love life. The matches and crowd footage acquired by the makers from various TV networks saves the film from shoddy crowd scenes seen in most cricket-oriented films. The film has songs in the background that are soothing.

Replicating a living and still active cricket legend is tough, but Sushant Singh Rajput slips into the role easily within few scenes into the film. He has done an able job. Disha Patani and Kaira Advani are good in small roles. Anupam Kher and Bhumika Chawla lend good support, while Rajesh Sharma, Mukesh Bhatt and Brijendra Mishra impress as usual.

`M S Dhoni: The Untold Story’ generated enthusiasm during pre-release period and is now getting positive response from the audience, thanks to the popularity of Dhoni. The film has all the makings of a hit were it not for its high cost of production.

(The film is being released simultaneously in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu versions.)

Producers: Arun Pandey, Fox Star Studios.

Director: Neeraj Pandey.

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani, Rajesh Sharma, Mukesh Bhatta, Brijendra Mishra.

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