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DIRECTOR: Neeraj Pandey
STARRING: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani
It’s that time of the year again when Bollywood doles out bonafide certificates to sports people.
The script of the film looked like this-
Bollywood Public School
308, Mutual Admiration Club, We Will Play Safe Building, Love You Dhoni Street, Ranchi.
Sr. No. 7 (Gedit? Gedit?)
This is to certify that MS Dhoni s/o of Pan Singh Dhoni is a bonafide player of the Indian Cricket Team.
He is very obedient, very sincere, very hardworking, OMG so upright. He is even a teetotaller, doesn’t even smoke, respects women, old people and is so morally conscious that when the third umpire is confused, he turns to MS Dhoni. Ha!
Principal/Producer: Mr. Pandey (aka Dhoni’s Manager!)
Bollywood hardly ever makes biopics where the journey is intrinsic, documenting a star’s internal journey, his/her insecurities/fears and how they overcame those fears to become the celebrated sportspeople that they are.
I understand it’s not a mandate to explore the internal story of a star but the reverential tone of most biopics, singing paeans in their praise, could be boring and uninspiring.
MS Dhoni like most biopics focuses on the hardships of a young Ranchi boy who dreams big Cricket dreams.
Director Neeraj Pandey creates a heartwarming small town atmosphere in the first half where friends and family cheer for the young Dhoni as the news of “Mahi maar raha hain” spreads like wildfire.
The strength of the film is in its beautiful characters played so brilliantly by each one of them.
Rajesh Sharma as a Bengali Coach and Kumud Mishra are my favourites. You give them any role, any dialect, any emotion and they nail it every time.
Even Dhoni’s friends Chittu, Param and Santosh are innocent characters set in simple times where one of them finds no fault in Dhoni and blames everyone else, fiercely defending him and the other teaches Dhoni a cricket trick for a samosa; alas the trick is never used again in the film. Like how life lessons beautifully equated with the game of cricket, “Merit pe khelo aur lage raho” make sense, but is hardly incorporated in the film.
In fact, there are a lot of things that happen in the film that have no or little relevance to the film, like kids exchanged comment in the hospital or Dhoni’s friend commenting on a hotel staff’s short dress.
All goody-two-shoes characters don’t lead to any crisis. Dhoni’s humble background is his biggest hurdle. The good thing is that they don’t manipulate it. The bad thing is that they don’t do anything about it. Anupam Kher as MS’s father sulks a bit and that’s it.
One can’t help but think of Yatin Karyekar as a farmer father in Iqbal whose fears and concern for his mute son seemed more real, his decision against his son playing the game far more convincing.
There is a brief ‘caught in the wrong job’ phase but all it takes is a match that earns Dhoni a place in the Indian cricket team. Even the low phase of Dhoni’s batting career is just shown briefly, without much context or result and you begin to wonder if there was anything inspiring about his story.
And just when you think things will get more controversial in the second half; some clash with senior players, some match fixing scenes, some cross roads, some tough decisions to make, the director mercilessly drops two love stories on us. And no, Dhoni is not cheating one with the other. YAWN!! There is an interesting shade to the romantic side of Dhoni though. He is commitment phobic. Wow, first world problems really!
Unlike Azhar, the film thankfully doesn’t change names and shows real life players as are. In fact, the film even creatively incorporates Sushant Singh Rajput in iconic cricket matches with the real life players.
MS Dhoni is yet another safe, simple, decently directed, decently enacted, never-ending ode to Dhoni without any crisis to deal with. Watch it only if you are a Mahi fan.
THE RATINGS MEAN:
5 stars: Loved it. (This could make to top ten movies you must watch before you die!)
4 stars: Liked it. Recommend it. (This will help you sound intellectual and give you stuff to add at water cooler conversations.)
3 stars: Didn’t hurt. Watch it once.
2 stars: It put me to sleep. Watch it if you are an insomniac or a newly wedded couple. Winks!
1 star: Do I even need to explain this?