rating: 3 stars
quick take: an authentic personal account of the life of mrs. dhoni
ms dhoni: the untold story is a biopic that promises to bring you never-before-heard details about an Indian sports hero. the untold story of an Indian cricket legend, under whom the Indian cricket team rose from good to great. the film reserves the contrast of halves for its narrative effort. The first half establishes Dhoni as a character, a person, and a boy who dreams big and hits bigger. the second half portrays him as an achiever and a lover. what the movie doesn’t do is get intimate. at least not with the greats of cricket. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s personal life has been depicted in detail, even his shy and aloof nature has been portrayed on the big screen to good effect. but the film is not about a cricketer, his journey through locker rooms and pitches and definitely not about his conflicts or controversies. But Ms Dhoni’s personal story, combined with director Neeraj Pandey’s no-nonsense approach to filmmaking, gives you a decent watch. At 190 minutes (over a staggering 3 hours), the film takes its time. but he never drops the ball. he always manages to attract you and that’s not so bad.
The story begins with the birth of Mrs. Dhoni and goes all the way to his six wins in the 2011 World Cup Final. The first half is set in the ranches of the 1980s and 1990s as a bright-eyed Dhoni discovers the pitfalls of cricket over football. his prodigious talent makes him an instant favorite in local circles. as he grows, so does the impending big break awaiting him. his lower middle class family does everything in their power to make dhoni an international cricketer. Opportunities don’t come easy and the travails of a small town boy trying to live his dream make the first half of Ms Dhoni truly and genuinely fascinating. In reality, Dhoni is perceived as a simple and humble man, despite his herculean achievements and talents. the film’s setting does justice to that fact. takes a genuine and insightful look at the life of an aspiring cricketer. he plays on the fact that dreaming big is okay and achieving dreams doesn’t need miracles.
However, the second half is a whole new ball game. it simply goes through dhoni’s cricket life keeping the focus on his romance and humility rather than his involvement in cricket politics. there is a brief mention of his aggressive recruitment policies, but everything else about his professional life is conveniently left out. You never get to be intimate with India’s most successful cricket captain. the focus remains solely on a small-town type that succeeds on a global stage.
although more dhoni, the film does not have the integral capacity of the person in which it is inspired, it excels within its limitations. Director Neeraj Pandey crafts an engaging story about Dhoni’s life. his efforts, especially with the detailed production design and script writing, make even the 190 minutes feel balanced and snappy. Mention should also be made of the excellent use of CGI to transfer Sushant Singh Rajput’s face to real-life footage of Dhoni. the quality of visual effects on offer is top notch at all times.
however, the biggest contributor to the film’s impact is its leading man sushant singh rajput. his efforts are perfect. with every passing minute all you feel is that you are actually watching mahendra singh dhoni. not an actor trying to be a cricketer and a confident but measured man. he lives the role and makes dhoni come to life. his cricket shots and his body language are a master class. Sushant Singh Rajput’s efforts alone make the film worth watching. Supporting performances from Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla, Rajesh Sharma and Kumud Mishra are perfectly fitting. The heroines Disha Patani and Kiara Advani only appear in the second half and both ladies have marginal roles. however, disha patani stands out with her presence on screen.
ms dhoni: the untold story is a long movie, but it manages to entertain and engage the audience despite its length. While it may not be based on important information about Dhoni’s cricket career, it is a compelling story through his personal life. If you ever wanted to get up close and personal with the most dhoni person, this is the movie to watch. it’s a solid biopic, turning its subject into a true hero.