Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam Kher, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani, Rajesh Sharma, Kumud Mishra, Bhumika Chawla
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Being one of those millions of cricket and Dhoni fans, I was highly excited for this movie and the trailer had given it a sky high boost. But, the film doesn’t really match up to the expectations and more importantly, doesn’t do justice to the magnitude of Dhoni as a legend.
M. S. Dhoni – The Untold Story has a good script. It deals with multitude of Dhoni’s aspects that made him a victorious leader today. His childhood, his liking from Football to Cricket, parental pressure to focus on study, coaches spotting his talent, friends, rise of Dhoni, his stuck up life as a Ticket Collector and then his extraordinary journey to being one of the best cricketers in the world is written in a decent structure. I would have expected a shorter attention to his love life though.
The film screws up in the execution. This is the first time I think Neeraj Pandey couldn’t tell the story in an interesting manner. I understand from the title, the film is about the untold or not many known things about Dhoni, so it was expected that Neeraj won’t be covering the popular milestones of Dhoni’s life in detail. But, he failed to understand that you cannot tell an engrossing story of a cricketer if you don’t let the audience relate a cricketer’s on-field actions with his off-field happenings. Dhoni’s India debut is covered in 1 ball, second match in 1 ball, T20 World Cup in 2 balls. I know, these are well known facts for us but they are shown so quickly in the film with shabby editing, it felt like Neeraj Pandey was in a hurry. It’s a 3 hour film, what’s the hurry? These were the scenarios on which he should have capitalized his off-field story. So many shots of Dhoni playing and impressing the coaches are closed so quickly, it doesn’t give a proper closure to the scenes.
Another disappointing thing is the computerized shots. The scenes of young Dhoni hitting sixes and his face were clearly artificial. What bothers me is when you are making a film that is so grand and on the life of a great personality, why not invest in good visual effects? Those scenes actually made the attempt ordinary.
Image Source: Fox Star Hindi
The first half of the film is at least decent. The childhood of Dhoni is directed sweetly and even in his younger days, his friends’ sacrifice to help him was commendable. Two contexts on cricket ground which I loved are the Punjab vs Bihar match, where Yuvraj and Dhoni meet and the 2011 World Cup final. Both were done in a typical Neeraj Pandey brilliant way. Those are the highlights of the film. You cannot stop yourself from shouting and whistling when Dhoni enters the Wankhede pitch and then hits that famed six to win the World Cup for India. The direction is at peak when Dhoni is stuck in his Ticket Collector life and feels trapped. It was executed brilliantly. The work he has done to make Sushant Singh Rajput look exactly like Dhoni is applaud-worthy.
Just when you think, the film will now dive into Dhoni’s international cricketing life in the second half, it starts going downhill. The debut and T20 World Cup happens so fast that you never get time to engage with the story. I seriously felt Dhoni’s love life was portrayed too dramatically. Add to that, the time it consumes with songs. A shorter treatment to that aspect would have sufficed.
It feels hollow when a film talks about a cricketer but almost never shows anything about Dhoni’s life with his team-mates. The biopic can’t be called comprehensive if you are not covering integral aspects like these. Also, it was surprising that no efforts were taken to throw light on the background of Dhoni’s captaincy. He is dominantly known as the Captain Cool so that was a crucial point to discuss.
In a summary, Neeraj Pandey tells the story that is like a plain narration or a boring documentary. It has good moments but they nowhere match the gigantic level of Dhoni’s intensity.
I think Sushant Singh Rajput has given his career best performance and for me, this is one of the best performances in a biopic. You can understand the research and hardwork Sushant must have done to imbibe Dhoni’s character. Of course, knowing how to play cricket has helped him a lot in this case. But, the way he carries himself throughout the film was impressive. That walk when he pads-up for the World cup final, his typical Dhoni shots and ticket collector image are all delivered perfectly. It’s a tough job to carry Dhoni’s image on screen when the whole world knows almost everything about Dhoni and Sushant does the impossible. I especially liked his act during his struggle as a TC and his dilemma between a job and cricket. It was amazing how he acts as a trapped person.
The supporting cast was strong. Anupam Kher was highly relatable as a typical father who is caring but always worrying about his son’s career and studies. Rajesh Sharma and Kumud Mishra are phenomenal in their roles. Kiara Advani adds a good charm in a love story but Disha Patani needs to work on her dialogue delivery. Bhumika Chawla too, performed nicely as a supporting sister.
M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story disappoints. The film and direction fail to give justice to Dhoni’s life and legacy. What should have been an inspiring storytelling stayed merely as a documentation.