The Outsider

I was 8. I ran to the counter at school where they issued the cricket coaching forms. I stood in line everyday for half an hour during the lunch break for the next week. I got a form. My parents didn’t allow me to join the coaching.

I was 9. Same thing happened.

I was 10. I was 11. I was 12. I was 13.

I was 14. Nope. Nothing changed except my will to stand in line for half an hour during the lunch break to get that cricket coaching form.

My parents weren’t against me pursuing my passion. They were always supportive of my interests in music, badminton and basketball, but not CRICKET. Maybe they felt I might not become a player of any significance and wanted to prevent me from the heartburn resulting from such a rejection in my life.

With age, I understood the reason behind the decision of my parents to not let me try my hand in cricket. There is an insane amount of bureaucratic,infrastructure, hierarchical, socio-economic and caste hurdles one has to cross, before getting a place in an Indian team. Maybe they were disillusioned by the staggering amount of lives that had been sacrificed in the altar of cricket. When I saw Sachin and Sourav, they could see the rest of their Mumbai and West Bengal teammates.

I understand.

Probably why, MS Dhoni – The Untold Story moved me in a way I never imagined.

The movie starts off at the 2011 World Cup finals, just before the Captain walks out into the field and ends with the shot that made me jump up with arms raised in the air and cheering for a person that I’d never cheered for before. It was the biggest cricketing achievement a 1989 born Indian had seen. I was constantly supporting the game of cricket even when it was shamed beyond repair after the match-fixing scandal. So this World Cup Victory was a vindication of sorts.

Finally Indians found a new cricketer to criticise,  emulate and adulate, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The movie tries to portray the path that lay for Mahi to become MS Dhoni. Every anecdote that the media fed us over the past decade or so about him takes a visual representation here. His friends, his family, his romantic interests, his trials, his pain, his glory, his victory and the way he perfected that ‘Helicopter’ shot.

Yes, Dhoni was a goalkeeper in his school and became the wicket-keeper of his school cricket team. But I didn’t know that his family was such a solid support system. Of course things might have been different in reality and it might have been sugar coated for the discerning audience. I didn’t care. I loved the idea of middle class parents talking more about what their child wanted and in a pleasantly surprising detour, didn’t want him to top in all his exams.

Yes, Dhoni was not from an extremely affluent family and had a very close group of friends. But I didn’t realise they had such an influence. Of course things might have not been this Utopian. I didn’t care. My eyes welled up at the scene where Dhoni finally gets his kit and he directly goes to that friend who fought for sponsors and wanted people to recognise Dhoni in a way that he deserved.

Yes, Dhoni started off as a ticket collector at Kharagpur. Probably there is an over-dramatisation of his life there. I didn’t care. I understood the feeling of breathlessness that creeps up even in the most cushy jobs. I could relate to the need to run away from something, not out of cowardice or inability but because one is brave enough to do something that keeps one truly happy.

Yes, Dhoni had a few romantic interests. The movie mainly talks about Priyanka, his girlfriend that died in an accident and Sakshi, his wife. There is a definite oversight in the timeline and a few facts here and there regarding the actual history between the people. I didn’t care. The romance was understated and the scenes underscored with a subtlety that now goes hand in glove with Dhoni.

It is not everyday when you find every actor in a movie being in fine form. Right from stalwarts like Anupam Kher, Kumud Mishra and Rajesh Sharma who play his father, mentor and coach respectively to actors playing the role of Dhoni’s family, friends, romantic interests and colleagues, no one misses a beat and stay in the hearts long after.

It is not easy to portray someone who is living, playing and etched so deep in our psyche. I don’t quite know if a biopic on someone so relevant and in the present was ever done.

Hence, it is very tough to convince people that it is Dhoni and not Sushant that is on screen. I could wax eloquently about the performance of Sushant but nothing would surmise this better than a statement that I overheard from an audience member who doubled up as an ardent Dhoni fan, “I have never seen Dhoni cry. But I’ve now seen Sushant Singh Rajput cry as Dhoni and I don’t think ‘Thalaivar’ can cry in any other way.”

The movie carries the weight of a biopic very lightly. It is skewed in favour of the titular character. It is more of a movie about cricket, a movie about India and more importantly a movie about a man from the middle class who took the entire nation by storm.

Yes, Dhoni has had his share of controversies. I do care. But there might not be any change in the way I viewed this movie. The principal reason being that if Sachin Tendulkar was said to be carrying the weight of a billion dreams on his shoulders, Dhoni created a billion new ones.

With having directed three movies that I am in love with, Neeraj Pandey’s latest directorial venture is his safest and most uncontroversial movie. It is okay, he’ll charter other areas with his following movies.

I am not skilled enough or rather, skilled at all to talk about the technical aspects of this movie, but the movie was wonderfully pleasing to the eye and with such a high budget behind the making, it is imperative that they are top-notch and the entire team delivers it with style, especially the visual effects and the music.

Oh yeah, the movie was lengthy as compared to the other movies releasing nowadays. I didn’t care much for it especially when I used to pay lakhs to sit in Engineering college lectures that hardly were interesting let alone inspiring.

MS Dhoni – The Untold Story might not shatter all records. This movie might not break all the barriers existing between a dream and reality. It is okay. This is a movie about the scenario that many of us grew up in, where some swam against the tide, some wallowed in the middle of the sea and many of us drowned. Yes, this could have been a way better movie, but it is perfectly flawed in its present state and that’s how life works out eventually.

I am 27. I’m pursuing a dream that not many parents and the society approve. On my way to college, there is this cricket ground and invariably every time, I slow my bike to look at those players in their whites playing cricket. Everyday the inevitable question crops up in my mind.

What if?

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2 thoughts on “The Outsider

  1. by now i think most followers of your blog know that you arent technically qualified to talk about technical aspects of a movie. I dont think you need to mention it in every movie blog post. a nice touching review. i loved the movie and reliving that winning moment did bring tears to my eyes. it was a well made biopic…

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    1. There are newer readers everytime. Have to cater to them too. The point of that paragraph is to establish the fact that when most of the reviewers talk about the art, Cinematography, screenplay, editing and the likes, they have no clue what they talk about.

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