M. S. Dhoni - The Untold Story - Review

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV (?)
quick review:

The film is more a story of middle-class India than about the most successful Indian cricket captain. And that's its charm.

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Wogma Review

A biopic usually chooses to paint a larger-than-life picture – and it would be justified because hey, the person has achieved enough for a biopic to be made on his life. A biopic usually elaborates the well-known, key moments of success. A biopic rarely goes beyond what newspaper headlines cover. M S Dhoni – The Untold Story does none of the above. It chooses to impress with details of a more than humble beginning. It chooses to inspire rather than merely awe. The pace is slow. At 185 minutes, the film is long. A person waiting for the scoop on Dhoni's controversial decisions will have to wait longer.

Of course, they promised us things we didn't already know. And a lot of the first half's charm comes from those little details. In fact, the makers might have taken advantage of the reverence his fans have for him. Had this been a fictional story, the details might or might not have been as interesting. We'll never know. But as it stands, the film is cute, refreshing, surprising and inspiring. Not only because Dhoni had to fight a lot of odds. He did so with humility and gratitude. It almost feels like Dhoni chose this medium to thank the people who helped him reach where he is now and told the filmmakers only about those situations and moments.

The writers also give us these philosophies that he had, developed and lived by. Unfortunately though, we are not made privy to his strategy, his thought process. They even tease the audience with an instance of how he took his teammates in confidence but they never tell us exactly what he thought or said. That I was looking forward to and sorely missed.

That Mahi bites his nails, is afraid of commitment, wants to please his father, is a prankster, gets frustated – make him human – like you and me. These tidbits keep him from becoming a superhero and instead show his level-headedness.

Ok, I will stop myself from making this into an essay on Mahendra Singh Dhoni. One last thing - I loved the romantic flirt in him. Not to mention, the couple of romantic scenes in the film do much more than feature length romantic films. Of course, if it were not for Sushant Singh's cutesy boy-ness, these scenes might not have worked. Otherwise too, he carries the character and the film well, never once seeming unconvincing.

However, there are quite a few things that kept me from enjoying the movie more than I did. The background music. The occasional use of slow-motion and other dramatic elements. Sure these elements worked to bring a smile. Of course, a reaction shot of a non-believer of Mahi's shot is bound to bring a smile. I digress again.

There was a slack in pace at the beginning of many sequences. There is attention to detail and there is detail. You can appreciate the simplicity of the clothes that Mahi's family wears, the pains taken to show a true-blue middle-class household, the characters that make small-town India and so on. The movie fills you with warmth for the hard-working, dedicated working class of India. But the movie also begins to annoy with too much detail. The audience enters almost every scene a little too early. Way too many scenes have a character enter a room, open a door, sit, exchange pleasantries and so on. Precious screen time spent on setting the mood, and it doesn't really happen.

But hey, for a person who likes to watch test matches more than a T-20, it was worth the wait for me.

And yet, when the second half picks pace it sorely lacks detail. 35 years isn't a very long life. However, when you have achieved a lot in those 35 years, it can warrant a film. When one sets out to make that film, they have lots to pick from. Biopics could be interesting or not depending on what was left out. M S Dhoni – The Untold Story picks a lot of lovely details from before the man's rise to success and stardom. However, life after success is skimmed through in a rush.

Maybe it is intentional, metaphorical even. The struggle was long. The success, once it came, happened all too quickly. Or maybe the last 8-10 years are too “current”; a little risky to have the details open for public scrutiny. Maybe it is an opening for an untold story - Part 2, when this will all be history. Yes, I am a fan and I can't have enough.

Till then though, we can bank on Bollywood to deliver the predictable. And this once we are thankful. You know how this specific biopic is going to begin. In fact, you want it to begin and end so, and no other way. And yet you have goosebumps when you watch it. That is the power of your fandom and your love for the game. The makers would have to really mess it up to take that away from you. They don't.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: The true life story of the most successful Indian cricket captain of India.
  • General Look and Feel: Keeps things simple. No glitz, no glamor, just plain and simple story-telling.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 3
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 3.5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 2.5
  • Music Director: 2.5
  • Lyrics: 2.5

M. S. Dhoni - The Untold Story - Movie Details

M. S. Dhoni - The Untold Story - Trailer

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Comments (29)

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Fan:

I have no issues with film makers successful in one particular genre trying their hand on another genre. In that sense Neeraj Pandey shifting genres is alright. But of all things why select a biopic on a still serving player - and that too a player whose life has probably no secret aspect thanks to the 24x7 social and other media barrage?

The only aspect in a Dhoni film would be a rags-to-riches tale. But that saga has been the staple income of Bollywood producers over the decades, and thus cannot be made further interesting.

I cannot say that I am really waiting with bated breath for this Neeraj Pandey film to release.

Anuj:

That a Neeraj Pandey film would be brilliant on screenplay, story telling & direction is a given. But the real genius in him lies in the fact that he's paused the film at the 2011 world cup & not focused on the 14 overseas test defeats which puts a huge question on MSD's already dubious legacy. Imo, he's a good ODI cricketer blown out of proportion by the media. His poor test record would always remain a question mark on his legacy.

Anuj:

Full marks to Neeraj Pandey though! MSD is easily miles ahead of BMB and Mary Kom in terms of film making.

Anuj:

Along with Shoojit Sircar, Neeraj Pandey is the best film maker in Hindi cinema today Imo. I rate both of them ahead of Raju Hirani bcos Hirani tends to stick to his comfort zone while Sircar & Pandey have excelled in diverse genres in all aspects of film making, be it writing, screenplay and of course direction.

Ehinome Okojie:

MSD is a bigger film star than SRK, HR, and Akshay as per 2016 first day box office. Welcome to bollywood Mr Dhoni.

kawkaw:

The movie is about the cricketing great and the people who supported him to be what he is through success and failure.

Anuj:

41 cr is 2 days is a superb start and brand MSD once again proves to be a bigger brand than any bollywood actor. Despite a boring and prolonged second half, this biopic is worth a watch. At the box office, the movie would find favor among the urban and mass audiences alike. Brand MSD is a blockbuster and the bumper box office opening has reiterated this fact! I expect an 80%+ recommendation rate which could take the film to a lifetime number of around 180 cr.

http://simplebollywoodreviewer.blogspot.in/2016/10/ms-dhoni-untold-story-calender-of-events.html

ehinome okojie:

If this film does not cross TJB, it will not be encouraging for Bollywood.

ehinome okojie:

Prediction is 173cr.

Dhoni Fan:

I loved the movie and can give 3/5 stars to it. But I know since this is a biopic that why it has very low chance to become a blockbuster.

Anuj:

Huge drops on Monday and Tuesday. Seems like the lack of known faces and foot tapping music is impacting this movie badly in the mass sector. Agreed that the second half is labored and boring, but so was the second half of Sultan. The only difference being that that had the [comment partially delete because it is a personal attack]. As of now, it seems like MSD is carrying appreciation only among the high end and mid range multiplexes of metro and semi metro cities and the final tally would be in range with films like ZNMD, Barfi, BMB and Airlift. But at a cost of over ₹100 cr (thanks to [comment partially delete because it is a personal attack] MSDs remuneration), this movie would never be the success that the above mentioned films became.

Anuj:

So as per admin, insulting actors is an act of personal attack (not that most of them deserve anything better)! Wow, way to go :D

meeta:

Yes @Anuj, insulting, especially by calling names is a personal attack.

Anuj:

Yeah it is! Doesn't matter if that person is a proven criminal, pseudo secular dimwit or a complete opportunist. Perfect communist line of thought from the critics and parallel cinema junkies who make legends out of mediocrity like Naseer "saab", Shabana "memsaab", Nandita Das and Anurag-The flop Kashyap.

Fan:

My views on censorship are quite known (I hope). When Anurag Kashyap is told by censor board to clip certain dialogues as it hurts sentiments, all pseudos including those on the wogma site, are up in arms.

When @Anuj or somebody else does an Anurag, the admins are quick to remove everything that they deem as objectionable.

Why the double standards? Or basically nobody has the courage to the stand up to industry bullies?

Anuj:

@Fan : Different strokes for different folks is something that every strata of the society in the country tends to follow. Be it online censorship or be it theatrical viewership. I have no issues with MSD's uneven word of mouth, but I fail to understand why the audiences are always so selective in their judgement. Why is it that a Salman starrer like Sultan with an equally boring second half continued to run to packed houses into week 2 and 3? Why is it that despite a pathetic trailer, a HNY opens to much higher occupancy than an equally massy BMB or an MSD. Or even among the urban audiences, how's it that a movies like FAN and TALAASH whose trailers have virtually nothing to write home about open to better occupancy than far more convincing trailers like PIKU, Pink and Drishyam? "Stardom slavery" is ingrained among both, the urban and mass audiences alike (more so among the masses, at least urban audiences give urban movies a chance on word of mouth, eg Neerja, Pink, Kapoor & Sons etc) and is here to stay. Gone are the days of rank new comers and unknown actors like Rishi Kapoor & Amitabh Bachchan delivering mega hits and top annual grossers like Bobby and Zanjeer. Or even a newcomer Salman delivering a mega hit in MPK as late as 1989. Indian audiences seem to be moving in reverse gear as far as star worshipping is concerned!

Anup:

Anuj - havnt seen the movie..But definitely got confused of your comments. So please clarify.
The movies was brilliant on screenplay, story telling & direction , then a full marks to Neeraj Pandey (which you give to all his movies so you are a fan no doubt like anybody can be any bodies fan and defend him , but tye fact is that you dont like it when someone defends a person whom you byyourself dont like) and then you say the Movie has a Boring and Prolonged 2nd half. How can a movie having brilliant screenplay and director having full marks can have a boring 2 nd half.
Quite contrary of thoughts by a same person.

Anuj:

I clearly mentions "The first half is brilliantly written, edited and directed. Neeraj Pandey brings his expertise to the fore. The dialogues are delightful and the viewer gets a good entertaining insight into MSD's upbringing and his young days. Watch out for the scenes where his coach (played by an exceptional Rajesh Sharma) is convincing him to forgo his passion for football and take to cricket."

"After a riveting and delightful first half, the movie becomes more of a romantic drama in the second half and all we get is an overdose of MSD's love life [Comment partially deleted because it gives a part of the movie away] and the sequence of events leading up to his marriage."

Rest is left to your interpretation. As for Neeraj Pandey's skills, I'm not the only one who thinks that he's a master of his craft!

Anuj:

@Admin : I committed the cardinal sin of calling Naseer mediocre and Anurag a flop director. Please [delete the comment partially as it amounts to personal attack] :P

Anuj:

I am surprised that none of the regular wogma users have watched this movie as yet to indulge in a discussion. After further thought though, I personally cannot help but get a feeling that this movie has perhaps been made to cater to MSD and portray him as a holier than thou who could do no wrong. No wonder, it does not work as well as a usual biopic should. Biopics need to delve on the vulnerable and no so perfect aspects of the individual too. None of which is a part of this film. Aspects like the IPL CSK match fixing allegations, MSD's rift with the seniors as well as the 13 embarrassing overseas test defeats between 2011-14 have all been conveniently given a miss.

http://simplebollywoodreviewer.blogspot.in/2016/10/ms-dhoni-untold-story-calender-of-events.html

Anup:

Anuj - couldnt watch it , some injury problem i have.
Not saying that Neeraj Is not a good director , anybody who made A Wednesday is a craftman , but unlike Shoojit whom i find better and better with every film , i find Neeraj Going down with everyone of his films..

Anuj:

Anup : A Wednesday is a once in a generation film that might never be recreated. Special 26 was interesting and Baby was a notch above that. MSD is in the biopic genre and his weakest movie till date imo, still a decent one time watch nevertheless.

Fan:

I have yet to watch the film. As noted in one of my initial comments on this film, it is not something for which I was waiting with bated breath. I very much enjoy watching Dhoni as a cricketer, but I am not a fan of his overhyped image of captain cool.

However, I must appreciate Neeraj Pandey for his integrity, courage and position on country coming before everything else. To have the guts to remove each and every scene featuring Fawad Khan is surely commendable. The last thing we need in times of crisis is to encourage foreigners who are refusing to condemn terrorist acts against Indian soldiers, thereby accepting that they support the terrorists more than the soldiers. If for that one single reason, if I have to watch every Neeraj Pandey film, then I shall do so.

On the one hand we have Neeraj Pandey who did not mind sacrificing the solidness of his film for the right cause. And on the other hand we have the champion of mediocrity, Dharma and YRF, who for some monetary gains are backing Ali Zafar and Fawad Khan who refuse to condemn terrorist act against Indian soldiers. That those monetary gains are delusional will be known by Diwali, when Karan will lose money instead of making money due to his lack of guts to take a position for the right cause.

Even more proud of you Neeraj Pandey.

Anuj:

@Fan : Was Fawad part of this film initially? I didn't know that.

Fan:

@Anuj: yes, he had a cameo. Playing Virat Kohli. When Fawad refused to criticize the terrorist attack on Indian soldiers, Neeraj removed the cameo parts. Good thing, in my opinion.

Anuj:

Yup! Good that he'd followed up movies like A Wednesday and Baby with a courageous stand in real life too.

ehinome okojie:

@Anuj, you were the one telling us who is the most popular among these actors (pseudosuperstars) and went as far as telling us how popularity matters more than money making. Akshay and Salman can do charity and set up infrastructure with money and not popularity. If we the audience empowered other actors, we will see major surprises in highest earning movies. We are stuck in this popularity battle between Salman and Aamir, sometimes SRK comes in and we forget that others deserve to make it. The rise of Salman coincided with the fall of Hrithik when Kites was rejected and Dabangg was accepted. As for me, I have watched movies from India starring
Akshay Kumar
Akshaye Khanna
John Abraham
Vir Das
Kunal Khemu
Om Puri
Nana Patekar
Kangana Ranaut
Kareena Kappor
Karisma Kappor
Radhika Apte
Amitabh Bachchan
Irrfan Khan
Tusshar Kapoor
Sanjay Kapoor
Sanjay Dutt
Ajay Devgan
Dharmendra
Sunny Deol
Bobby Deol
Esha Deol
Hema Malini
Vivek Oberoi
Aftab Shivdasani
Abhishek Bachchan
Aamir Khan
Salman Khan
Saif Ali Khan
Shahrukh Khan
Imran Khan
Jaya Bachchan
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Nikhil Dwiverdi
Rajpal Yadav
Harman Baweja
Rajnikanth
Suriya
Mahesh babu
Ram Charan Teja
Tabu
Prabhas
Boman Irani
Shiney Ahuja
Emran Hashmi
Ranbir Kapoor
Hrithik Roshan
Dino Morea
Bipasha Basu
Twinkle Khanna
Uday Chopra
Rahul Dev
Rani Mukherji
Kajol
Mahima Choudary
Priyanka Chopra
Genelia D"Souza
Katrina Kaif
Twinkle Khanna
Juhi Chawla
Zayed Khan
Aishwarya Rai
Jimmy Shergill
Amrita Rao
Sushmita Sen
Karan Shah
Neelam
Amrish Puri
Mumta Kulkarni
Arjun Rampal
Sohail Khan
Arbaaz Khan
Sunil Shetty
Madhuri Dixit
Sharman Joshi
Sahil Khan
R. Madhavan
Manoj bajpai
Sonakshi Sinha
Diana Penty
Abhay Deol
Farhan Akhtar
Sonu Sood
Ileana DCruz
Vidya Balan
Mohan Lal
Raj Ranade
Mithun Chakraborty
Arshad Warsi
Anupam Kher
Manisha Koirala
K.K Menon
Asin
Jacqeline Fernades
Sonali Bendre
Omi Vaidya
Anuksha Sharma
Lisa Haydon
Neha Dhupia
Ali Zafar
Kalki Koechlin
Zarine Khan
Sohum
Isha Koppika
Jackie Shroff
Konkona Sen Sharma
Chunkey Pandey
Meena Kumari
Siddharth Malhotra
Varun Dhawan
Since I know these actors, they are equally popular to me, those who chose to know certain actors and want to watch them repeatedly sometimes by buying multiple tickets do not want to expand their horizon. I wont complain,In fact Aamir and Salman must rule Bollywood till they are 75 years, lol.

Anuj:

Yes, audiences have made them popular and there's nothing wrong in making on screen performers popular. But the recent trend of audiences "saving money" to watch movies of the popular one's (irrespective of how pathetic the trailers are) and not bothering to watch a new comer or a not so popular actor despite the movie being a one time watch (or even better at times) is a worrying trend. And this worrying trend has directly coincided with this "holiday release" craze and hype that's been created by the media and the PR of most of these so called superstars. I have witnessed people accumulating savings and spending on movies like Bodyguard and Kick but the same folk would give a boot to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Airlift and prefer watching them on television instead, only b'coz Kick has "Bhai" acting in it. Had this mentality prevailed in the 70's we'd never have had an Amitabh Bachchan or a Vinod Khanna. Heck, even the likes of SRK, Aamir and Salman would have been struggling back then and there would be no DDLJ's and HAHK's to write of. Its high time the Hindi movie audiences give a 300 cr grosser to a non Khan, just to get things back to equilibrium. I do not see that happening as of now. I'm sure even before its trailer, there are more people saving up for Dangal and Tubelight than for even a tried and tested movie like Baahubali among the Hindi audiences.

Fan:

In normal circumstances I would not have had watched this film. In general biographical Hindi films are not something that I am fond of.

so what gave? Several factors, but the biggest being the commercial success that the film achieved, and secondly my soft spot for Neeraj Pandey.

Quickly on the fact v/s fiction, I am unsure on how much of the film is factual and how much is fictional. So I will skip that aspect, and treat the whole film as fictional and rate it based on that.

It is a very long film, but I did not mind the duration - it did not get tiresome.

The performances are very good, from every character. Sushant Singh Rajput has very well mastered the mannerisms of Dhoni (walking style, batting style, etc.)

I did enjoy the film immensely, but I find it very difficult to put my finger on the precise things that made it work for me. The overall package is simply good, and I think rewatching the historical wins all packed in 3 hours gives you an immensely feel good emotions filled with pride. Probably that was it which made it work. At least for me.

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