Cricket, the game which holds the nation together & which is like a religion in the sub-continent holds an unfair advantage in the region much to the chagrin of lovers of other sports. Being a sports buff, I pretty much follow most of the sports with unbridled enthusiasm but Cricket remains my favourite though I admit we need to give as much support & respect to Champs of other sports. It might seem like an absolute waste of time with hardly anything happening for long periods of time to many of the detractors. But once you love the game, even Tests can be engrossing; maybe check out the Kolkata Test which has Kiwis on the ropes & you will understand what I mean. Over the years, we had many legends in the game & one name which will be added to that list by the time he hangs his boots will be our Captain Cool aka M S Dhoni. In recent times, we had a couple of biopics on sports icons such as Milkha, Mary Kom, Azhar etc . So when a biopic on MS was announced & that too by the talented Neeraj Pandey, I was eagerly waiting to check it out. Will it be able to give an insight on how Captain Cool thinks & handles the challenging situations???
As it is well known to most of the cricket lovers, MS hails from Ranchi & the movie is about his journey from that small town to the pinnacle of Indian cricket. Dhoni was the goalkeeper of his school & during one of the practise sessions , he catches the eyes of the school's cricketing coach, Bannerjee (Rajesh Sharma) who sees his potential as a wicket-keeper & coaxes him into taking up the game. His father, Pan Singh Dhoni (Anupam Kher) was the pump operator in MECON who just like any other father wanted his son to concentrate on his studies as he believed sports cannot become a form of reliable livelihood. However his sister Jayanti Gupta (Bhumika Chawla), mother & close buddies supported his passion for cricket. In due time, his exploits with the bat becomes known far & wide.But his promotion to the Indian team was still a distant dream. How he makes that big leap from Ranji to the most successful Indian Captain forms the subsequent portions of the movie.
Neeraj Pandey is a director who needs no introduction courtesy of his excellent movies "A Wednesday", "Special 26" & "Baby". Even his latest venture, he has done utmost justice as it emotionally connects with the audience due to the authenticity it imparts in its execution. The first half was fantastic as it captures the struggles of MS extremely well & also the influence of his friends & family who does whatever is possible from their side to support his growth as a player. But the second half was were the efforts of Neeraj Pandey & Dilip Jha as writers was disappointing as they chose to just eulogize the highs of Dhoni with absolutely no mention of the controversies be it IPL or equation with certain players with whom there is said to be animosity. Apart from a fleeting mention of the dropping of the seniors prior to the Commonwealth series in Australia, there is also no insight provided into what makes him Captain Cool in crunch situations or the dressing room interactions ; all of which was expected after all there was emphasis on the phrase "The Untold Story" in the title. Inspite of this, it's still a cracking movie which keeps us hooked till MS hoists that famous 6 into the stands & wins the World Cup. All the technical aspects were top notch be it Santhosh Thundiyil's visuals, the impressive CGI & catchy BGM. However, Shree Narayanan ought to have done a better job with the editing while the songs though fine proved to be speed breakers.
There is no doubt that the film has been well crafted but one of the prime reasons for that is the excellent performance of the artists who were aptly chosen,so kudos to the casting team for that. Sushant Singh was brilliant as MS in all aspects be it the calm restrained demeanor, his body language or typical Dhoni shots. As Dhoni said in one of the promotions, it seems Sushant is actually better than some of the Ranji players; I guess he is going to be the most sought after star in the next season of CCL. As for the rest, it is hard to pin-point as each one has done their part really well such as the ones who essayed the role of Dhoni's friends, Rajesh Sharma, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla etc. Among the female leads, Disha Patani was fantastic while Kiara Advani as Sakshi was fine.
Verdict: The film has all the makings of a blockbuster not to mention Captain Cool has one of the biggest fan following in the country. Neeraj has showcased the journey of MS extremely well though he chose to focus on only the high points of MS's career which was kinda disappointing. But there is no denying that the film is both engaging & inspirational at the same time making it an enjoyable experience for the audience.In short, do check it out!!!