MS DHONI: AN UNTOLD STORY
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam Kher, Kiara Advani
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Trailer length: 3 minutes 17 seconds
Release date: September 30, 2016
MAHI’S WAY IS THE HIGH WAY
American blogger Amanda Marie Marcotte once summed up the biopic conundrum rather well – “The problem with real people is that they’re not characters in stories.” A biopic of someone who has passed on is hard enough. You don’t want to disrespect the departed. Moreover, the dead can’t exactly defend themselves. Living heroes are even harder to portray. The dramatic compulsions of fiction tend to make facts glossy. Life, as Marcotte noted, often comes with a matt finish. MS Dhoni, still captain of the Indian team in limited overs cricket, is indisputably a tricky subject. We (nearly a billion of us) don’t want to see shades of grey when it comes to our Mahi. We want pure adulation.
The trailer of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story confirms one assumption. Director Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday, Baby) isn’t interested in puncturing our worship. On September 30, he will tell us a story of ambition, of talent being nurtured, of an enviable self-belief. Like all good stories, this one will expectedly start right at the beginning. A coach spots a young Dhoni goalkeeping with an acrobatic finesse and he decides to give the child a pair of wicket-keeping gloves. Despite the odds – school exams, a lack of playing opportunity – MS’ talent is hard to hide. He finally impresses with the bat. Commentators start recognising him. His name is whispered in the ears of those with influence.
In the 3 minutes and 17 seconds that this trailer lasts, you are overwhelmed by a single question – it would have been easy enough for Sushant Singh Rajput (Shuddh Desi Romance, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!) to grow his hair down to hair his shoulders, but how did he emulate Dhoni’s helicopter shot and straight six so perfectly? Rajput has quite clearly replicated the cool of our captain with some chutzpah and greater swag. He is seen climbing up India’s somewhat rickety cricket ladder with a gritty determination, and by the time you see Rajput wear the Indian blues, you have to blink to tell the difference between him and MSD. He really has gotten Mahi down that pat!
Enough newspaper and magazine profiles have made mention of the Indian captain’s two-year stint as a ticket collector in Kharagpur. The MS Dhoni trailer revisits that 2001-2003 span a fair few times. MS’ struggle is one that our burgeoning middle class might easily identify with. Torn between his father’s (Anupam Kher’s) insistence on job security and his own sporting talent, the cricketer’s dilemma is one that anyone with an improbable dream will find relatable. What could possibly be a little hard to swallow are visuals of MS romancing Sakshi (Kiara Advani) on a typically Bollywood sun-kissed beach, but one hopes that Pandey will not make him suffer the ignominy of a lip-synced tune.
Indian cricket, its administration in particular, has always been a tad clumsy. In the trailer, we see a young Dhoni being given only three balls to prove his worth as a wicket-keeper. He is given a single over to bat. During a selection meeting, we see him demand that three players be dropped. His fellow selectors immediately detract and resort to a massaging of egos. MS’ reaction to this is rousingly patriotic. Cricketers, he says, are “servants”, doing their “national duty”. One can already hear the galleries cheer, but thankfully the trailer promises that the film will not simply push all of cricket’s messy politics under the carpet. The title would have you believe that MS Dhoni will tell an ‘untold story’. The BCCI has for long gagged our cricketers. It’s time the real MSD finally stood up.