Movie review – M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story – Neeraj, Sushant and team hit this one out of the park
By Joginder Tuteja
When a film boasts of a tagline of ‘The Untold Story’, it better live up to its promise. Well, that happens indeed in this Neeraj Pandey directed film where right from the beginning till the end, there are several untold stories, incidents and anecdotes narrated. The film could have opted for an easier route by showcasing several matches that Dhoni played for India and the results that came in. As a matter of fact a couple of crowning moments in the life of M.S. Dhoni – the winning of T-20 and ODI World Cup – haven’t dominated the screen either. Instead of a narrative where any other director may have taken a viewer through league matches, quarter finals, semi finals and then the finals, Neeraj chooses keep it short, simple and precise, hence elevating the overall impact.
This is where the strength of the film lies as it is this very precise treatment that wins the show. Not that it is short, the film in fact runs in excess of three hours. However, most of these three hours are actually flawless and carry those moments that had to be indeed told, hence making the film an enriching experience. As a matter of fact, the film does exceedingly well in making a viewer respect the man on whom the film is based and hence you never once feel that this is a propaganda affair in the offering. That itself is a huge achievement by Neeraj and his team which makes the film a worthwhile affair.
One does observe though that with all around good intentions on display, the film steers clear of anything controversial that has happened in life of Dhoni. Yes, there is one mention of him making some tough decisions around team selection but there too the names of the actual cricketers have been kept aside. Moreover, the romantic rendezvous that had made headlines in Dhoni’s life have been completely ignored too. Perhaps, the makers stayed a little extra true about the ‘untold story’ bit and hence stayed away from what was told – be it truth, untrue or speculations. That said, had the film penetrated a little more on that aspect as well, it could well have turned out to be a more rounded up affair.
Still, one has no complaints whatsoever about the well rounded up life story of Dhoni which is told for screen. Now this is what makes the film so special as you actually feel like being with the man when the incidents in his life happen, right from the school days when he moved in from football to cricket, to the meteoric rise that he enjoyed as a teenage cricketer representing his school or the regional tournaments that he helped win. However, what makes it so much more relatable is the personal life that he led, what with the actors playing his family members (father Anupam Kher, the lady who plays his mother and sister Bhumika Chawla) being so true for screen. Also, the music (Amaal Mallick, lyrics: Manoj Muntashir) plays a good part, especially ‘Besabriyaan’, which is so well integrated in the narrative that it is bound to bring in goosebumps. One just wishes that there was a longer version of ‘Padhoge Likhoge’ present in the film as that would have further chronicled Dhoni’s growing up days.
There are countless endearing moments due to this very aspect, especially in the first half of the film, that are bound to result in audience having moist eyes. (Spoilers ahead) Most notable of them are the scenes where the coach (Rajesh Sharma) rooted for him to the highly placed official (Kumud Mishra) putting his trust in him to his childhood friend going all out to get him his first sponsorship to a couple of other friends who stay with him in thick and thin to the other cricketer who teaches him the ‘thappad’ shot, now popularly known as the ‘helicopter’ shot and then the set of people he meets in Kharagpur, and forges good relationship with!!
All of this is treated wonderfully by the team of some brilliant actors and this is what further makes Sushant Singh Rajput shine in his performance as well. It would be wrong to say that Sushant lives and breathes the character because in true terms, the actor shows how brilliant he is by bringing his own individuality in play as well while enacting a National hero. In fact to say that he is impersonating Dhoni would be a disservice to the talent of the man since he has gone beyond the body language or the look and has actually got the true emotions out.
It is these emotions demonstrated in the early part of the cricketer’s career that make the film such a great watch. The many disappointments that he faced when it came to a late start in his career to a couple of failed opportunities to a series of low scores in the early part of his international stint are demonstrated quite well by Neeraj. This is the reason why you actually root for him when he becomes an irreplaceable part of the team. From this point, the film stays on a very good high right till the end, hence making one totally go with the flow as the story proceeds.
Yes, it is also this part of the film where the love story angle seem like a minor aberration. Of course, since it is the man’s story being told, it was imperative that the stories of his first girlfriend and then his wife are told too, with Amaal’s music coming into play as well. This ranges from being cute and sweet to heartwarming and soulful. In fact it also brings a chuckle at a few places. What is interesting is to see some of the common plot points that stories of both Disha Patani and Kiara Advani carry, especially when it comes to their awareness around the man in the midst of them. Check out the film to know more.
What is also deserving to be checked out are the excellent VFX that the film boasts of. It is marvellous to see the manner in which Sushant has been brought in the midst of all the real action that was on display on the field. This has to be one of the best mixing of real and reel scenes done on screen as never once do you feel that Sushant (as Dhoni) is not in the middle of players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Virendra Sehwag, Joginder Singh and many more, each one of whom is seen for a good time on screen. Also, it is a masterstroke on the part of the makers to bring real footage of so many matches that Dhoni had played. On other instances, they make many freshly shot scenes seem like real footage, which only bring in further consistency.
It is this consistency which wins the show for the film. Neeraj, Sushant and team hit it out of the park and ensure that M.S. Dhoni delivers hugely with his big screen avtar as well. With the kind of entertainment that the film has to offer for multiplex as well as single screen audience, there won’t be any stopping for this biggie. SUPERHIT!