Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not only the most successful Indian captain of all time, but he is also one of the most popular men in India. His rags to riches story is one for the ages. But inspite of all the fame and adulation he has received, hardly anyone knows his story in more depth than is written in the sports pages. So the interest in a movie that is his biography was always going to be sky high and the overwhelmingly positive response to the trailer has promised a huge opening. The buzz for MS Dhoni, the movie, means that the film has to be good enough to keep the audience entertained for the entire 3 hours plus duration. Time to see if it lives up to the expectations.
Story: MS Dhoni traces the journey of Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Sushant) from Ranchi who was born in a family of meager means. But his interest in cricket catapulted his life from that of a railway ticket checker at Kharagpur to getting into the Indian cricket team and then captaining it to a world cup within a short span of time. He had to fight with his father (Anupam Kher) who preferred the safety of life as a railway ticket checker to the unstable life of a cricketer. The film also shows us his fiery sister (Bhumika Chawla) and his two love interests (played by Disha Patani and Kiara Advani) and all the familiar characters around Mahi’s life both professionally and personally.
Screenplay and Direction: Neeraj Pandey does a good job of encapsulating the whole life of MS Dhoni from birth to the 2011 World Cup final. The important moments of his life are all there and they are all bound together in time as years pass and MS keeps achieving one thing after another. It is an engrossing film from start to end as the life of India’s favorite son is very interesting. But, and there’s a huge but, the film misses out on a soul as the events start feeling very superficial and the intimacy that biopics deserve goes missing. The hollowness is masked by the large scale events of the movie to an extent. Neeraj Pandey took on a herculean task of showing the life of MS Dhoni and he doesn’t fail at all. He doesn’t score a century but he gets very close to it. Full marks for the effort and for the scale of the movie. It must have been a difficult film to make.
MS Dhoni works as a movie because it feels real. Neeeraj Pandey must have taken special attention for realism as the sets, the costumes, the cricket scenes all feel extremely life-like. Unlike movies like Azhar which felt orchestrated, MS Dhoni feels like a really entertaining documentary. But technically, it is not 100 not out as the background score is painfully average. The Vfx too sticks out like a sore thumb. The superimposed face of Sushant on that of MS’ looks fake in a few of the match and celebration scenes. But, general viewers won’t really notice that. The music of MS Dhoni is peppered with 3 breezy romantic tracks (Jab Tak, Phir Kabhi and Kaun Tujhe) and they alongwith the other tracks suit the nature of the movie.
Acting: Sushant Singh Rajput leads from the front and knocks it out of the park. He channels MS Dhoni through his impeccable positioning, body language and expressions. This will be the star making movie for Sushant. Anupam Kher takes some time to get the Bihar lingo but eventually he gets it right. Other actors like Kumud Mishra, Rajesh Sharma and the assorted supporting cast support Sushant ably. This is one of the better cast films of the year. Special marks to the casting director who found the young version of Yuvraj Singh. The resemblance is uncanny.
Conclusion: MS Dhoni is the perfect story material for a Bollywood movie of this scope and size. His story lends itself naturally to the underdog spirit and the director didn’t need to do much to get it right. The lack of a soul is something which is bothersome, but what it lacks in intimacy is made up for by the goosebump moments of Dhoni’s life. The 3 hour plus runtime doesn’t feel too long because there’s so much ground covered in the movie and the expanse is so vast. Everything that needed to be showcased of his life is there. If you’re a fan of cricket, MS Dhoni is a must watch, and if you’re not it still makes for compelling viewing.
- MS Dhoni’s life is so interesting that it never feels too long
- Sushant is brilliant in his role
- The realism of the movie is evident
- The supporting cast is able and talented
- The goosebump filled moments are worth the ticket price
- Gives the viewers another chance to experience the magic of the 2011 world cup win
- The production design is huge
- The background music doesn’t always suit the scenes
- The vfx is sometimes awkward
- The film lacks the soul and there’s a lack of intimacy