MS Dhoni: The Untold Story Movie Review: Sushant-Neeraj play safe and that’s not the Mahi Way

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You’ll like the Neeraj Pandey biopic depending on how you feel about the sports icon. Personally, it is difficult to not put him on a pedestal. He, like Sachin Tendulkar, is the embodiment of the middle-class Indian dream (the milieu is this film is beautifully crafted). Much like Shah Rukh Khan in our world. The story is about a humble beginning, struggles of being stuck in a mediocre job and then that one chance which can make or break. It is all very watchable but you wish there was more drama than an author backed narrative. Are we trying to say that the tribute is tilted? Yes, it is. What better to expect from a movie that is produced by Dhoni’s collaborator Arun Pandey. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s story becomes the staple filmy tale about an underdog who wins big. But the screenplay seems so carefully written that it lacks the firebrand quality of the man himself. It is not what you identify with Neeraj Pandey either. Pray, when did he become so politically correct…By no means is his film a bad one. For crying out loud, Sushant Singh Rajput is nothing short of phenomenal. He has the demeanor, the spark, the vulnerability, the built, the stature. He becomes Dhoni. It is not another character for him clearly. And of course, in his case, the challenge was bigger. The man is still in his prime and there was no question of going wrong with it. But the film, though not an absolute PR exercise, is relatively dodgy.

The first half is crackling. The conservative father is played aptly by Anupam Kher. He, well-meaningly, pushes his son to pursue a career in the Railways just like him. Fate had a different design for him and Dhoni struggles to rise above the overbearing rut that entrapped him. Bhumika Chawla, who plays his sister, too is perfectly cast. As the budding cricketer shifts between his job as a ticket collector and practice sessions, you are bound to be astounded by the hard work that goes behind making a star. The rousing enigma casts a spell, and being a precise director Neeraj knows which buttons to press and how far to go with it.

But the second half unravels the writer’s challenges. How to say a story bringing forth the upheavals of a cricketer’s professional life without digging dirt or bringing skeletons out of the closet? There are fleeting references to match fixing, dropping senior players, objecting to experienced icons and structuring the team ‘his way’ but Pandey ducks instead. His focus moves on to Dhoni’s love stories. The tragic tale of one that doesn’t see a happy ending, followed by his commitment issues and then the romance that changes his life for better. Over a beautifully worded breezy number, shot in picturesque locales, Dhoni and Sakshi (played adequately well by Kiara Advani) eat up screen time that you wish were rather devoted to in-team politics and his stint as a captain. Well, let’s just say that there are secrets which are kept well guarded in the green rooms; as guessing and gossiping ensue.

A word of praise for how beautifully Neeraj stitches the reel matches with the real ones. Only a filmmaker of experience and intelligence can blend it so seamlessly. Of course, he has ample support from the cast. Everyone does justice to their roles and Sushant is one fine topping on the cake. He makes you believe that no one else could’ve done it better than him. The sincerity is overpowering and overshadows nearly every glitch that is in the tale.

It is a tad disappointing that the well-orchestrated film isn’t as well-nuanced. Resting solely on the acting prowess of the lead man and the charisma of the subject isn’t enough in a good film. This one had potential but the screenplay doesn’t justify it. Here’s on of those films that will get registers ringing, families will flock to the theaters, make it to DVD shelves but fails to be pathbreaking cinema. The subject deserved better, Dhoni deserved better but in a country, where offence is our favourite tool, it is best to play safe. So what if it’s not the explosive style he is known for.

As for the helicopter shots, there are enough hair-raising, history-repeating-itself moments with oodles of patriotic undertones. Go to the cinemas just to celebrate the worth of a common boy who makes the nation proud. Go cheer for this son of the soil Kyun ki Mahi maar raha hai, with the same gusto, the same flair since 2005. And if it is possible, he has only got better at the act.

We rate the film 68% on the Pinkvilla Movie Meter.

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Comments

Why was dhoni's elder brother not shown in the film? Not suitable choice for dhoni's PR?

I don't know why I liked it so much, maybe because I'm a big time cricket fan. It was just really great for me to get to know things about him that I didn't know before- HOWEVER I do agree that the casting for Sakshi was a bit off. Alia would have been better as Sakshi Rawat. I think they could have shown his internal camaraderie w/ his teammates a little more.
Also the guy who played yuvi was spot on. That famous south paw pout is hard to miss.

Nothing much, praising praising abt angel playing cricket. Kids will enjoy this movie

FANTASTIC MOVIE! People have liked it very much. Doesn't matter what this review says!

My thoughts, exactly! Congratulations team Pinkvilla for this honest & precise review! Dhoni deserved a better film, the screenplay and editing let down the film, it just couldn't build up the momentum. Instead of Dhoni's love interests the director - writer ideally needed to focus on the camaraderie Dhoni shares with his team members. The Yuvraj Singh bit was superb and we deserved to see their friendship grow when eventually they played together for India. There was so much they could have done, but just didn't. People will ofcourse flock the theatre for Dhoni, but Neeraj Pandey (Writer - Director), has not done the job upto the mark.

Superb movie

Better should have cast Dhoni as himself..he looks better & has better screen presence than Sushant!!

SSR is really a good actor... He does remind me of SRK ... hoping he gets better especially his dialogue delivery...

ssr rocks

Yes, he was perfectly cast! Looved the movie

SSR is the new SRK! Both came from TV, both conquered Bollywood! Sushant's day has truly come.

the credit for the oepning goes to dhoni and only dhoni.His stardom in india is huge.SSR was good but nothing extraordinary

2016, year of the biopics. And just like that, Sushant assured himself a place in the nominee list for best actors Filmfare Awards at minimum, & NA at best. Nawaz got a strong competitor. Interesting.

Boy has arrived & how. I don´t like him - too arrogant - but yeah. He is there. & if the movie does well, there will be no stopping him.

Basically films tells u dhoni is an angel not a human

Let's dedicate Tahir Shah' song Angel to this movie

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