M S Dhoni Movie Review: It Starts With A Ton, Stumbles On A Bouncer, Loses Ground On A Yorker, Recovers With A Six, Ends As A Brand

M S Dhoni Movie Review: Neeraj Pandey’s biopic on Indian cricketer and most successful India cricket team captain, relies heavily on Brand Dhoni and Sushant Singh’s flawless portrayal of the character. Sushant’s body, mind and speech are in perfect sync to nail the skipper’s personality.

M S Dhoni Movie Review: So the start credits show up on the screen – and we know that this film recovered its entire cost and in fact made some profits even before shooting a single scene. The long list of sponsors and brands is never ending, and somewhere also an indication as to what M S Dhoni really is about – it is about making of Brand Dhoni – and about the years of struggle, stress and frustration the man went through to be where he is today, that every brand wants to be associated with him!

The first half and the second half are like two different films. And what connects these two is the 2011 World Cup Final, which culminated by a brilliant six from Dhoni, making India the world champion, winning the World Cup. Dhoni’s story in the film is all about reaching that one glorious point, when India reclaimed the World Cup after 28 years. The film tracks the entire journey from a newly born Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the school boy Mahi to the cricket legend MSD or MS Dhoni. And Sushant Singh Rajput was born to play the character of MS Dhoni one day. No other actor could have done what he has. He is perfection personified, even his voice modulations, the Bihari accent – the boy has nailed it with complete focus and dedication.

So what is this ‘untold story’ that the posters, teasers and promotions have been talking about. It is the long and tedious journey of a small town boy from Ranchi, Bihar to the Ovals and the Edens of the world. Born to a lower middle class water pump operator, growing up in a small government quarter, with no world class sports amenities, how Dhoni managed to make it big is what forms the crux of the first half. Anupam Kher plays his conventional father who’s only dream is to see his son study well, and take the tried and tested successful roads of the world. But Dhoni, as his mother puts it very rightly ‘has bigger goals in life. he is not going to be satisfied with less.’

His story to success is not something to be shared here in words – it is an integrated and joint effort of all the people in his life who arrived at various points and guided him to his goal. This is where MS Dhoni excels as a film – in showing he small town life as is with no sugar coating. The film taps into each and every small and big character – and his/her contribution to Dhoni’s success. His professional angst, quiet tears, lonely nights, his sacrifices – everything is so beautifully captured on screen that one starts wondering – how did this boy become the great MS Dhoni despite going through so much in the name of societal pressures, traditional social thinking, repressing his dreams every day working as a Ticket Collector at Kharagpur Station.

Post intermission, the beginning of Brand Dhoni starts – with self introspection, meditation and single pointed focus on cricket and cricket only. His romance seeps into the story as well with some love ballads. This is the where the film falters a bit, but picks up again with the Pakistan tour, T20 World Cup, leading all the way to the 2011 World Cup. And in this entire process, we see the numerous products Dhoni endorses on screen one after another.

MS Dhoni is a safe film – no controversies touched upon, no names taken, no Deepika Padukone. Neeraj Pandey treads the safe and lazy path – with no explanations given for many things happening. And he smartly makes the second half a series of wonderful and exciting cricket highlights videos from all the victories led by Dhoni. In fact at one point it almost feels like – the makers are more interested in giving us a the thrill and pleasure of witnessing these cricket moments on the big screen. And we are not complaining – after all we love cricket. And a film that ends with Dhoni hitting the winning sis to lift the World Cup – it is bound to make us fall in love with it. But ironically this is where we start missing the journey. Now all we can see is Dhoni as a brand, and hear Dhoni Dhoni Dhoni as a national chant. The film does turn into a PR machine after some time, yet it is one of the better biopics to come out of Indian cinema. The film does not bother to touch upon the critical career moments of him becoming the captain, and putting together a team of talented young guns. The script very conveniently decides to tear all these pages – why?

Sushant Singh Rajput is an actor par excellence, but here he has outdone himself in every way possible as an actor.

May be it was too early to have a biopic on Dhoni – he has a lot to do and so many more years of play left in him. Byt when you leave the theatre, something is missing. The greatness of Dhoni is not accompanying you home. All I can say for that is that capturing MS Dhoni’s life with the same zest and greatness as his real persona, on screen is impossible. The man himself is an experience.

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