The film opens with MS Dhoni in the dressing room at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on the night of the 2011 World Cup final, a huge roar goes up in the theatre and you know this is going to be special.
A life as intriguing as Dhoni’s is implored for a biopic. How a young lad from a city not many people had heard of rose to take Indian cricket to new heights, is a story everyone wants to watch.
The film is quite intelligently divided into two halves, the first half is about Dhoni’s journey through domestic cricket and the struggles that you face when you come from the smaller cities. The latter half is about Dhoni, the international cricketer who took the world by storm.
Sushant Singh Rajput, who plays Dhoni in the movie, has embodied the Indian limited-overs captain to every smidgen of his being. There are sequences in the movie where you are left nonplussed. It seems like original match-clips are being played when it is actually Rajput imitating Dhoni.
The realism in Rajput’s acting isn’t just restricted to Dhoni’s cricket, but he has perfected Dhoni’s accent, the way he walks, the way he runs, and the way he prepares himself before facing a ball. Even the trademark Dhoni nose-twisting sniff is perfectly imitated by the actor.
The film is glaring evidence of how a sports biopic must look and feel like. Bollywood has made so many cricket-related movies, but, Dhoni – The Untold Story stands out as one of the best.
Not only because it’s based on true events with very little fiction, but also because Neeraj Pandey, the director, and his entire cast and crew have worked together to pay attention to the finer details and make the motion picture as real as possible on celluloid.
The first half of the film takes you on a tumultuous journey of Dhoni’s early days as a cricketer. He is faced with the perennial question of choosing between studies and his passion for sport.
Pandey depicts successfully how mediocrity is such a comfort zone for most Indian families and how talent, no matter how dazzling, always falls prey to it. There are sequences in the film where the future Indian cricketer is seen in conversations with his father Pan Singh Dhoni – played by Anupam Kher – who wants him to study and land a job while all Dhoni wants to do is to play cricket.
A job with the Railways seems like a win-win situation as it offers money and also enough time to practice cricket.
The first half takes you through Dhoni’s frustrations when he keeps knocking on the doors of various cricket teams but nothing seems to move for him, the days that went on to become the building blocks of the cricketer that Dhoni developed into.
It’s a treat to watch how scrupulously Pandey and his team have put together all the pieces of Dhoni’s journey from Ranchi to Kharagpur to the Indian team.
Hope Dhoni's biopic works well and the producers don't have to say "we were 25-30 crores short" on being asked about its performance at BO.— Keh Ke Peheno (@coolfunnytshirt) September 30, 2016
The second half is more about the Dhoni we know. His international achievements, the controversies regarding some of his team selections et al. The second half is almost equally as long as the first half, yet at the end of the movie, you are left yearning for more.
The film also touches upon Dhoni’s love interests, the first of them being Priyanka Jha, played by Disha Patani, and the second being that of Sakshi Singh Rawat (now Sakshi Singh Dhoni) played by Kiara Advani. While their parts aren’t substantial in the movie, both Patani and Advani do justice to their roles.
This is an uncommonly long film which stretches for a little over three hours, but if you’ve followed Indian cricket in the 21st century, you’ll love every minute of it.
If you aren’t a cricket fan, the film might seem like it slows down at various places. But, to be fair to the director, it was bound to slow down in parts since there was very little that he could have introduced in terms of fiction.
For the little that the film lacks in pace, Rajput makes up for it and more with his impeccable performance. He seems to go from strength to strength with every movie that he does and this might just be the perfect project to propel him into the big league of Bollywood.
MS Dhoni – The Untold Story is a story that you’ve already heard. It’s your story. The story of the ‘you’ that is passionate. The story of a never-ending will to stand out. The story of making it big. Dhoni is you and me, with a little more belief and lots of grit and determination.
MS Dhoni – The Untold Story is your perfect weekend watch. Get ready to fall in love with Dhoni, the cricketer, and Rajput, the actor, all over again.
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