Film Review: MS Dhoni-The Untold Story
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhoomika Chawla, Disha Patani, Kiara Advani, Anupam Kher and Kumud Mishra
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Screenplay: Dilip Jha/Neeraj Pandey
Rating: Four stars
Cricket is a religion in India and our stars are revered like God. After all, we are a cricket crazy nation. It’s something that outsiders can never understand and cricket is enshrined in our culture like the film stars that we worship. No one can understand our love affairs with cricket and films. M S Dhoni is a biopic on one of the most loved cricket players whose sensational batting won us the 2011 World Cup against Sri Lanka. It’s something that we will cherish forever. Neeraj Pandey is one of the most prolific filmmakers of our times who dared to trudge the biopic way of making a movie on the life of MS Dhoni-The Untold Story.
Neeraj Pandey’s MS Dhoni hits a century in this three hours plus movie which makes the audience connect with the main protagonist played by Sushant Singh Rajput who scores a sixer. The man of the match, of course, is the crisp screenplay that hooks the viewers and connecting them with one of their most favorite man on the pitch, M S Dhoni. It’s a cricket experience translated on screen with so much competence. Making a biopic on India’s captain and that too over three odd hours can get tricky but the screenplay and direction by Neraj Pandey do full justice. Of course, the lead star Sushant Singh Rajput does full justice playing MS Dhoni. It is compelling and entertaining at the same time.
What works in favor of MS Dhoni is the body language, mannerism and conveying of expression by Sushant who transforms himself into MS Dhoni in very frame and on the crease. The young actor delivers a measured but stupendous performance as India’s captain. He is spontaneous, brilliant and at his natural best. It’s heart warming to see Sushant graduating from the small screen to the big screen in such a fashion. As an actor, he has shown tremendous growth and his act as MS Dhoni impacts you in such a big way that you say, ‘Yeh dil mange more’.
It’s never easy to play a cricket superstar but Sushant does it brilliantly. He is certainly one of the brightest futures of the Hindi film industry and will achieve bigger things an actor. Certainly, Sushant is one of the contenders for the best actor award this year. Disha Patanni (Priyanka) makes a fresh debut and is spunky, shines in the small allotted screen presence while Kiara Advani playing Sakshi Dhoni is passable. Bhumika Chawla plays MS Dhoni sister and acts decently while Anupam Kher is commendable.
MS Dhoni scores on several counts. First, the footage of Cricket World Cup at Wankhede takes is back to the euphoria of the final as the camera rolls and inches towards the stadium. The film moves fast, taking us to the childhood of the main protagonist in Ranchi, working as Railway Recruitment Officer and practicing as a cricketer. The scenes where Sushant sits at the railway station wondering on the shape his life is taking and the one where he breaks down in the middle of the road is captured with sheer efficiency and sensational. The sequence where Sushant as MS Dhoni misses the flight simply touches the heart and relates to millions of cricket fans in India. Sushant Singh Rajput steals the thunder in every single scene in the movie which is one of his career’s best. He injects so much life and enthusiasm in his character. His equation with his sister played by Bhoomika Chawla and father, Anupam Kher is endearing and heartwarming. It’s about the Indian middle-class dream of making it big in life. The film celebrates not just cricket or MS Dhoni but the small town with fanfare.
The way Neeraj Pandey has shot Ranchi, a small town and the lively enthusiasm he brought in the depiction of life is a sheer delight where every frame is celebrated in a festive mood like. The director brings to the fore selfless friendship and family bonding in such a compelling way that adds to the aesthetic beauty of the film. The screenplay also relied on few real life incidents where a mob protest in front of MS Dhoni’s house after he loses a match for India or cameras zooming on his lady love, Sakshi.
The footage of cricket matches and, in particular, World Cup 2011 is shot with such technical finesse that makes it a truly alive moment. The footages are a gem and the special effects that make Sushant truly alive as MS Dhoni during the matches in real time ups the quotient. How can we forget the moments when the whole of Indian team lifts the man who carried Indian cricket on his shoulders for almost three decades, right? Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, our own God of cricket.
There are two back-to-back songs in the movie which are really unnecessary and not centric to the plot of MS Dhoni-The Untold Story. The romance also appears a tad unnecessary at places.
Neeraj Pandey’s MS Dhoni-The Untold Story is compelling and engrossing despite its three hours plus length and the whole credit goes to the director along with his co-screenplay writer Dilip Jha in a film that traces the rise of the cricket superstar. The director has made cricket such a lively experience on-screen that plays in real time. More power to such form of film-making. One can only hope that MS Dhoni-The Untold Story will usher in many filmmakers exploring sports in India as their subjects, be it, wrestling football or badminton. The director deserves a pat on the back for bringing the uncanny look-alike of Yuvraj Singh on screen. MS Dhoni is a film that you cannot afford to miss for no reason if you want to be entertained. In short, MS Dhoni is full of Hundred Tons.