Neeraj Pandey has captured MS Dhoni well in the silver screen apart from some flaws
Neeraj Pandey has captured MS Dhoni well in the silver screen apart from some flaws

The D-Day has finally arrived. Every Friday brings new expectations, anticipation and excitement to cinema-lovers. September 30, 2016 should turn out to be a day where Bollywood s diehard fans will flock in large numbers to watch one of the most awaited movies of the year. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story has released on a day where cricket is expected to join hands with Bollywood. Dhoni, India s limited-overs skipper (and former Test skipper) needs no introduction but here is a biopic on him which promises to expose more to the world who still know very less about him. But will the movie justify its hype? Will the three-hour long film satisfy the desires and questions of Brand Dhoni s loyal fans? Here is a review by Aditya Sahay and Abhishek Kumar on a captain who has won accolades and every ICC title in cricketing field:

The movie starts from one of the most iconic scenes from India s rich cricketing history. Dhoni (portrayed by Sushant Singh Rajput) walks out to the middle in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. What happened rest (in the match) is not untold but director Neeraj Pandey takes us to the flashback. He wants to engage the audience in how and where it all started for the swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman. The film takes us to 1981, Ranchi (then a part of Bihar), the birthplace of Dhoni. Pandey does well to glue the audience in the first half showcasing Dhoni s ups and downs.

The movie captures how Dhoni s school coach took a liking towards him when he was a capable goalkeeper in football. Having an inclination towards sports, Dhoni gives a nod to try his hand in cricket but has to win the trust of his father. Pan Singh Dhoni (played brilliantly by Anupam Kher) is shown concerned about his son s future as he feels studies can take his child to greater heights rather than sports. Pandey captures the apprehensive father s insecurities well as this remains a vital mindset problem of parents, especially in Bihar and Jharkhand. Most of them still remain concerned with their wards grabbing government jobs rather than sticking to sports.

Dhoni became a rage when he broke into the Indian team because of his aggressive strokeplay. The fearless approach did not need to be instilled into him. It came to him naturally. His friends were in awe of him since his early playing days and did everything possible to see him succeed. The supporting roles filling in as Dhoni s mother, ever-reliable friends and a supporting sister (Bhoomika Chawla) fit the bill perfectly and do their bit to give a push to his career. The audience will connect well as Pandey does a commendable job to pull off the small-town flavour and middle-class family life. The real locations of Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Kharagpur station are well-captured.

Sushant has undoubtedly done his best job so far on celluloid and is sure to get noticed. The way he pulls off Dhoni s shots, walk, smile, body language, hesitation to face cameras for endorsing brands in his early days are a treat to watch. Rajput has done just what was expected of him filling in the big shoes of India s second World-Cup winning captain. However, all his shots, trying to copy Dhoni s unorthodox batting technique, are shown from a close-up angle in the first half of the movie. Pandey shows his street-smartness but does not capture Dhoni s strength playing in the off-side region. Rajput s shots in World Cup final 2011 are also not an exact replica of the ones played by Dhoni but one can see the sheer efforts of the protagonist.

The biopic touches on various aspects but not wholeheartedly. It shows how Dhoni was not given an equal run in one of the selection camps held in New Delhi (being a small town bloke or maybe due to his long hairs) but does not dwell much upon it. Where the movie emerges a winner is in the way it showcases Dhoni s haphazard days, working as a ticket collector in Kharagpur. How he tries to cope up with a job he is not inclined enough to carry on and still hopes to achieve somewhere in cricket is shown well. You feel for the guy who is seen giving it a shot only to make his father happy.

Rajput has floundered at times. Just before the interval, there is a scene where Dhoni vents out his frustration regarding his breakneck fast-paced life to his employer. Rajput loses his accent for a while, completely ignoring the tone of a boy hailing from Bihar/Jharkhand. He ends up saying karta hoon before going back to the usual karte hain (in the same scene). It was probably the only blip in a well-stitched first half.

The first half sees Dhoni s character taking interest and falling in love with the game, juggling two careers, facing rejections and finally taking the big decision of going ahead with his instincts (as does the Dhoni we know) of giving a full shot to his dreams. His calm and composed character is also churned out well as he is shown trying to convince his father of giving him full license to chase his dreams. Dhoni s restrained expressions are portrayed and captured well. You cannot help but admire Rajput in the moments when he hides his professional and personal loss from friends and wipes alone.

Other highlights from the first half include Yuvraj Singh s character (Harry Tangri), intelligent, dry humour, and the birth of the Thappad Shot , now known as Helicopter Shot .

The second half is a bit stretched with the focus primarily on his personal life. Dhoni s former girlfriend Priyanka Jha (Disha Patani) does a fine job and adds an emotional touch to the 70mm screen with their unfortunate end. Dhoni s selection in national side, following a string of performances in First-Class cricket along with glimpses of his initial struggles and rise to fame in international arena are shown nicely.

The big misses remain which should have been told were some dressing room strategies laid down by the man responsible for India s past heroics. There could have been more weightage to ICC World T20 2007 could have got more footage. The makers have missed out on explaining how Dhoni got loaded with captaincy burdens, which, in our opinion, was probably baffling. It is not unknown that the World Cup 2011 final forms the climax, but Pandey misses to give the film a fitting finale. In other words, Pandey could not pull off a Dhoni: there was no focus on what was going through Dhoni s mind while batting in the night of the final at Wankhede.

The names of the players Dhoni wanted out of the team as newly-appointed skipper are also revealed indirectly. The makers have tried to play it safe (again, like Dhoni) and stayed away from controversy. While that is probably commendable, the audience had probably expected more. The whole world knows about Dhoni s patriotic nature and love for the Indian Army, but the film gives it a surprising miss as well. These things could have given the movie that extra bit of edge.

Before summing up, one thing deserves a mention. It felt strange when Dhoni and Sakshi (Kiara Advani does a decent job) were romancing in front of Taj Mahal in Aurangabad. We first thought this was a goof-up but no, there is indeed a replica in the city.

Most importantly, the movie does not glorify Dhoni but shows him as a near-flawless character. Overall, it is an above-average performance if one looks at it in terms of accuracy and details. It is a simple story with an underlining message that you can be a small town boy but if you have talent and a little bit of luck, you can be unbridled. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story shows Dhoni s love, struggles, rejections, luck, insights into his personality (including his most used words, definitely and process as well) and his rise in Indian cricket. Barring a minor glitch here and there, the movie manages to keep the viewers interested. The film has its flaws, misses here and there and falls a bit in the death overs .

Nonetheless, it should still not be missed to get acquainted to a person who keeps things confined to himself, soaks in pressure and wins us matches from time to time. His success will be rejoiced (with goose bumps) and pain will be shared. Go for this one (with some tissues) and come out feeling proud of the 35-year-old star.

Director: Neeraj Pandey

Producer: Arun Pandey

Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kiara Advani, Anupam Kher, Disha Patani, Fawad Khan, Ram Charan, Bhoomika Chawla, Herry Tangiri, Rajesh Sharma.

Music: Sanjoy Chowdhury.

Duration: 190 minutes.

Release date: September 30, 2016.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with CricketCountry.com. He can be followed on Twitter @abhik2593 and on Facebook at abhicricket.kumar)