Deafening roar of crowd is in the background. Initial slippery slope of the men in blue in the 2011 final is playing on the screen in dressing room. Watching it with stoicism is a guy who suddenly moves after a wicket, changes into Dhoni’s t-shirt, wears cap and turns to tell the coach that he is going in. Follows the
bridge to the stadium with the mad chant of the crowd and the packed cinema hall explodes-Dhoni Dhoni…! I am not a cricket follower but this opening with its thumping music and sheer aura of Sushant sent a shiver down my spine too. From there on Pandey takes us into the flashback of Dhoni’s humble
background. Sushant delivers like nobody else could. He has imbibed MSD’s subtle mannerisms, his stoic stare, the shoulder lurch and the frustrated ruffle of hair verbatim. Mahendrasingh Dhoni is certainly an interesting man and Sushant does him justice.
Pandey drives the film with a subtle hand in the first half or shall I say two thirds, looking at the sheer length of the film. Government quarters upbringing of Dhoni is brought to vivid life and one does feel the relentless rise to godhood which follows due to the careful treatment meted out to the streets of Ranchi. Dhoni’s devotion to his hometown and his friends is stuff of legends and it is refreshing to see almost equal attention given to his close-knit group of friends. Anupam Kher gives an uncharacteristically subdued turn as the father. Supporting cast is competent and complements Sushant’s performance nicely but nothing stands out.
All the praise notwithstanding, it does feel that the narrative has been sterilized when it comes to Dhoni’s actual dealing with the national team. Token scenes depicting the Sehwag controversy and his dealings in cricket are insufficient and hurried. No attention is given to his crucial role as the Indian
skipper and except for repeated helicopter shots from various matches throughout his storied career, his cricketing life has been deliberately put on a backburner. I could have done without the detailed love interests and inevitable songs and would have loved to see how was the actual dynamic between him and the team. To the extent that no major cricketer except for Yuvraj has even been casted for the movie. This seems like an error of commission most likely due to MSD’s insistence on not involving his team mates or creating a controversy. A fine editing scissor to trim down the unnecessary song and dance sequences and his railways stint would have helped the flow. When a film which started out with such a bang feels long before interval, insufficient editing definitely share the blame This was fun to sit through largely due to sheer watchability of SSR and his rip-roaring interpretation of the most interesting man in cricket. Lately it has been that if I can sit through a Bollywood movie without feeling like leaving before interval, I would call it a success. With this admittedly lose definition,
this would be a sure thing for cricket fans and even casual watchers. People expecting juicy details of MSD’s cricketing wheeling dealings would be sorely and surely disappointed. While whiny film critic types would have it otherwise, I would suggest go for it and get entertained; you won’t leave before interval!