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M. S. DHONI - Despite being a three hours long film focusing on the selective life events offering not much as 'the untold story', it still keeps you glued with all impressive well directed performances deserving appreciation. (Review By Bobby Sing)

01 Oct, 2016 | Movie Reviews / 2016 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / M

When a film is widely promoted as a biopic on the eventful life of an iconic sportsman/cricketer (or any achiever for that matter) then the viewer is willing and eager to watch two aspects of his life in particular.
ONE – The story behind the making of the icon, his early days as a kid in the school, his introduction to the game, his family members, his teachers, the coach, the first job and the close friends who actually provided the much needed support in those struggling years along with his relationships with girls or the love affairs.
TWO – The story post his becoming an icon, as a part of the Indian squad, how he met the other big stalwarts in the team, how he broke the ice establishing a relationship coming from a small town and how they handled the stress and failures together heading towards the bigger wins in various major championships or at least some relevant insights about their collective joys, their fights and known controversies giving us ‘the untold truths’.
So a biographical film essentially has to deal with these two important phases of a well-known achiever’s life in order to be rated as a great attempt which sadly cannot be said about M. S. DHONI to be honest. However, as a project made to excite and entertain the viewers talking about a renowned figure, the film still works on many levels discussed in details below.
It begins with a similar declaration as in AZHAR saying that this is not a biopic but a film based on true events from the life of its lead character (once again contradicting the wide publicity as a biopic). Plus just like AZHAR this one too has the icon actively involved in its making and promotion (also reportedly being the co-producer), so you are obviously not going to find any grey or negative shades at all in the entire film. In fact where AZHAR deliberately tried to present Azharuddin in all positive shades by including a major controversy, M. S. DHONI simply refuses to deal with any such thing and completely skips the controversy part related with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s career resulting in a clearly one sided projection of our sports icon.
Anyway would further like to talk about the film focusing on its two halves.
The First Half
MSD’s first half is a big winner as it beautifully portrays his early part of life, rightly fulfilling the first expectation from a biopic as mentioned above. These initial 80-90 minutes are long but full of amazingly executed moments right from the first scene of Dhoni wearing his No.7 jersey in the green room. Every individual character as well as the original locations transport you back into the life of a middle class boy who actually was more interested in being a goalkeeper playing football instead of cricket.
One feels like being a part of the narration brilliantly presented by the team beginning from the school days to the dilemma or depressions slowly creeping in during the Railway officer job specifically. There are several scenes in this first half making a strong impression but the ones featuring his immensely helpful group of friends score the maximum.
Having said that there is still a grave mistake made in this crucial part and that is of deleting the character of the real elder brother of M. S. Dhoni from his life as if he never existed showcasing a false picture of his personal family relationships to be straight.
Frankly I didn’t know filmmakers, writers or directors are also allowed or enjoy this facility to pose as GOD pressing ‘Shift+Delete’ for a character like the elder son of a real family in a biopic for their own convenience or reasons to satisfy the icon himself. I personally didn’t expect that kind of ‘buttering’ or 'fooling his audience kind of act' from a director like Neeraj Pandey? May be that is the reason why he chose to use the tag line as 'THE UNTOLD STORY'.
Second Half
Post interval, as the viewers expect to see some real insights into the unknown aspects of Dhoni’s professional life, the director once again moves to his personal life instead ignoring the latter completely.
For instance, becoming the captain of Indian Cricket team is undoubtedly the most crucial phase in the life of a cricketer or sportsman, but the film never tells you anything about that ‘major jump’ at all for some undisclosed reasons. Further it simply avoids or ignores any grey shades or controversies involved with the name, resulting in a quite shallow or deliberately painted ‘made to order’ kind of positive sketch to be precise.
So for friends looking for the professional anecdotes and stories, there is nothing of that sort in the film, not even the mention of the questions raised over his Captaincy, CSK betting case in the IPL or conflict of interest issues reported in the recent years. Moreover even in the scene where the board is discussing the chances of continuing with some known experienced players, the director decides to press the mute button, yet again pointing towards a film designed as a ‘made to order’ product as quoted earlier.
On the other hand, a sweet and subtle romance followed by an unexpected brutal tragedy still makes a strong positive impact, though it turns the film into another typical Bollywood venture due to the forced songs and much more time devoted towards the love affairs. However as the romance gets over, we once get to see a continuing program of highlights conceived as the spirited climax that successfully wins over the viewers bringing in the proud nostalgia, but doesn’t justify the film to be rated as an informative honest biopic as projected.
Despite its big notable flaws and intentional deletions, MSD can easily be included amongst those rare Hindi films that have a more than 3 hours duration but still thoroughly keep you glued to the screen because of many well-crafted, inspiring sequences and all flawless performances (discussed in details later).
With a director like Neeraj Pandey coming up with a biopic on the life of a cricketer post films like A WEDNESDAY, SPECIAL 26 and BABY, one is bound to expect something exciting as well as explosive following a different approach.    
But Pandey’s M. S. DHONI appears to be a half heartedly prepared dish on ‘a dictated recipe’ just to please the crazy fans of the icon, riding high on the already known famous characteristics of the unconventional captain of our Indian cricket team, unfortunately.
Because where at one end Pandey successfully portrays the early life of Dhoni with an amazing ease and conviction along with all fabulous performances, he simply shuts his eyes while portraying his hero’s professional life raising many serious doubts over his intentions of making a truthful biopic.
In clear words, it seems MSD was not a subject or a project chosen by Neeraj Pandey himself, but he was actually hired by a third party to direct this specific film serving their own hidden motives. Otherwise I don’t find any reason why a bold director like Pandey would simply ignore the professional life of a cricketer making his BIOPIC and get overindulged in his personal or love life instead (with full length songs too) in the second half.
In fact that’s so unlike a Neeraj Pandey film to be exact. Because we don’t really know him as a director who would agree to put many important truths under the carpet just to have a HIT film. A director who has no problem in deleting the ‘elder brother’ from the real life story of an icon cheating his audience, or a director who would like to focus more on affairs and songs instead of the other much exciting and expected professional aspects of the unconventional celebrity cricketer.
Besides the highly debatable projection of the game in the film also makes you wonder that is CRICKET only about SIXES hit for a long distance or helicopter shots of a player ignoring all his other skills of wicket keeping and tenure as a captain managing the other veterans in the team? Supporting the question, its really amusing to see that post the first half, the director simply portrays Dhoni as a batsman ignoring his above mentioned facets quite conveniently painting an incomplete picture.
Keeping in mind Neeraj’s earlier ventures, he is best at handling the characters with strong ‘grey shades’. But since MSD doesn’t even feature any such negative characteristic of its hero presenting him as ‘a perfect man’, the film ends on a ‘too sweet’ note on the cost of sounding ‘unrealistic’.
Why the film still works?
A 3 hours long,’ one dimensional’ biographical film with some major flaws still successfully works because of its extensive research of the early times, a powerful ‘emotional quotient’ making an instant connect and all commendable performances reaching out to the audience entertaining them thoroughly.
Where the first half does the trick with many inspiring sequences depicting the middle class struggle and value of true friends in a budding player’s life, the second half emotionally makes a solid impression with the shocking tragedy and real life footage of the original matches and clippings used brilliantly. Here a special mention essentially needs to be made for the VFX department enhancing the film with their exceptional work in both pre and post interval sequences amazing one and all (though it sometimes gets caught due the mismatching proportions).
MSD also works due to its fine cinematography (presenting the on-field sequences superbly) and a gripping background score that doesn’t let the film lose its uplifting spirit in even a single scene. Plus though not required, its songs still sound soothing in the film taking good care of the subtle and effective romantic feel.
In short its ‘Dhoni - Off The Field’ which truly works in the favour of the film instead of ‘Dhoni - On The Field’, giving you the right picture. And finally its the performances, which actually elevate this questionably conceived biopic to much superior levels.
As an honest confession, many including myself had some big doubts as Neeraj announced the film last year with Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead playing Dhoni on screen. But both the director and his lead actor proved us all entirely wrong as Sushant is unbelievably spot-on and makes the most of the big opportunity given proving his untapped talent. In fact now after watching the film, one cannot even think of anyone else playing M. S. Dhoni on screen other than Sushant Singh.
The actor literally transforms himself into Dhoni adapting every single mannerism of the icon including his body language, his stance, the famous shots and much more giving a terrific, award winning performance. He brightens up every frame in the film right from the opening scene and simply excels in the emotional sequences in particular. And the film should ideally prove to be the much awaited turning point in the career of Sushant Singh Rajput from here onwards.
Among the girls, Disha Patani as his first love interest makes a sparkling likeable debut but Kiara Advani is just fine playing the wife. Bhumika Chawla as the sister makes a decent comeback whereas Anupam Kher once again is impeccable as the hesitatingly supportive father. Apart from these key actors, three other supporting names make the film much brighter with their short but important roles and they are Rajesh Sharma as the first sports teacher introducing Dhoni to cricket, Kumud Mishra as his first official supporter and Herry Tangri who plays Yuvraj Singh in the film (and he is a great find). Majorly contributing in the best parts of the film, just watch out for the scene where Kumud Mishra requests Dhoni to forget about the past saying ‘Dil Mein Kuchh Mat Rakhna’ and then how Rajesh Sharma silently expresses his proud of being the first coach watching Dhoni hitting a winning sixer in the world cup with all tearful eyes.
Overall, M. S. DHONI as a biopic majorly focuses on 'the making of the icon' and his personal life in its 3 hours long duration ignoring the later events lived as an Indian player and captain (avoiding the controversies). Yet it’s still going to be loved due to the fabulous performances by the cast superbly led by Sushant Singh Rajput putting his mind, body and soul into the act coming up as a clear winner.
As a personal conclusion I would like to call M. S. DHONI as a Sushant Singh Rajput film much more than a Neeraj Pandey baby giving him the much deserving credit. The project is certainly not a six hit out of the park, but a four for sure, making M. S. Dhoni much bigger hero than he earlier was in the eyes of his numerous fans and countrymen appreciating this ‘made to order’ film.
Rating : 3 / 5 (with a big applause for Sushant Singh Rajput’s earnest effort made.)
Note: Addressing the repetitive issue of ‘Unfair increase in ticket prices by the Multiplexes’.
Though my site and write-ups might be too small in front of the big runners and my voice raised against this MULTIPLEX MAFIA also might not get heard or reach anywhere.
But what nobody can stop me from is deducting ONE STAR from every such film that takes ‘we the viewers’ for granted (in revolt). So a star goes from the rating of DHONI too since every big actor, director, production house and exhibitor is equally contributing in this sheer exploitation and willfully ignoring the issue over the last couple of years.
Final Rating : 3 – 1 = 2 / 5

Tags : M.S.Dhoni Review by Bobby Sing, MS DHONI Movie Review by Bobby Sing, Biographical film, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Hindi films on Cricekt, Hindi Sports movies
01 Oct 2016 / Comments ( 4 )
Dear Bobby,

With respect to deletion of Dhoni\'s elder brother, maybe director has got inspired by the otherwise great movie \"The Beautiful Mind\". This movie also hides first wife of Jhon Nash, whom he had abandoned, based on her social status, which he thought to have been beneath his.
Maybe, if the director had also included her then it will become quite difficult to include \"beautiful\" in the title of the movie. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Forbes_Nash_Jr.)

Bobby Sing

Dear Sidhanshu,
I think whenever the biographies are made with a specific purpose of glorifying the person instead of presenting a real-life portrayal, such things are deliberately omitted due to a fear of hampering the overall image of the hero.

Interestingly this also reminds me of the biography of GANDHI which doesn't give you any insight about his relationship with his own sons

Keep Visiting and Writing In,

Raja Shah

Dear Bobby,
Today we watched Dhoni here in US to a packed theatre on Monday Night. I must say that i had gone to the movie after reading your review, with a gut feeling that tonight your review may prove wrong. I was wrong!

YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NAILED IT in terms of content, omissions, performances etc. Even my 15 year old cricket fan son said after the show that why they feel only sixes are important to win the game!

In this vision of director, Dhoni was reduced to a confused lover boy with just big hitting to lift his game. Thoroughly disappointing as we know that the Man is much more, with being captain, introducing fitness, giving sharp interviews, handling veterans, running between the wickets, patriotism and a whole other list. However, none of that was highlighted and undue weight is given to both love stories with some weird repeated filmy scenes.
I agree completely with your review, except, I would give it only 1.5 Stars for all actors performances, especially Sushant!
Thank you Bobby once again!

Bobby Sing

Dear Raja Shah,
Thanks a lot for the kind appreciation and your observations are bang on too.
Dhoni as a sportsman was not at all there in the film as it was more a personal account of his life and that too missing an important member of the family for their own reasons.

Moreover I wonder how can a truthful biopic be made when the person is himself co-financing the film with a set purpose.

Anyway Please do Keep Visiting and Writing in.

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