Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam Kher, Disha Patani, Kiara Advani, Rajesh Sharma, Kumud Mishra
By Saibal Chatterjee
The title of the film is rather misleading. M S Dhoni the Untold Story reveals precious little about the star cricketer that isn’t already in the public domain.
Made with the backing of Dhoni himself and co-produced by his business partner Arun Pandey, the film is built around selected nuggets of information and Interpretations of events and actions aimed at bolstering the cricketer’s brand equity as his active playing days draw to a close.
The result is a dreary, overlong, antiseptic drama that fails to create a nuanced, layered portrait of the most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket.
What M S Dhoni The Untold Story does instead is unabashedly seek to give the Indian wicket keeper-batsman a halo of perfection. Anything that is likely to be at variance with that single-point strategy is summarily glossed over.
Steering completely clear of, or merely skimming over, the controversies that have plagued Dhoni’s long reign at the top, the film focuses on his rise from Ranchi’s back-lanes to the very pinnacle of international cricket.
The story the film tells might have been more entertaining had Dhoni’s life and times not been so extensively documented by the media over the years.
In any case, there is little in the protagonist’s formative years that could be described as exceptional. India’s sporting annals are replete with far more startling success stories scripted by underdogs.
If MS Dhoni The Untold Story is watchable in parts it is only because of lead actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance and the strong support he receives from a cast of skilled character actors like Kumud Mishra and Rajesh Sharma.
The narrative has a generous dash of mirth, but any genuine dramatic potential is stymied by the film’s need to skirt around the conflict points of Dhoni’s career.
Rajput pulls off an impressive Dhoni impersonation, getting the body language and gait just right, although he might not bear much resemblance to the real-life hero that he plays on the screen.
In fact, Herry Tangri, in a cameo as a swaggering Yuvraj Singh, looks far more like the Punjab southpaw than Rajput does like Dhoni.
A whole lot of resources has clearly been pumped into MS Dhoni The Untold Story. But the outcome isn’t a cracker of a film.
If anything, director Neeraj Pandey’s eulogistic take on the life of one of India’s most successful contemporary cricketers is a stolid, overlong exercise that completely loses its way post-interval.
The second half of the film focuses both on Dhoni’s international career and the two women in his life Delhi girl Priyanka (Disha Patani) and his would-be wife Sakshi (Kiara Advani).
While the former bit is designed to solely boost his reputation as a sportsman, the latter is a pretext to push several romantic ditties on to the soundtrack, which slows down the already sluggish film.
The movie, which has a running time of 190 minutes, is strictly for Dhoni fans and for those that want to see for themselves how close Rajput gets to the spirit of the protagonist.