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FILM REVIEW: Dhoni – The Oft-repeated Story

The need to make more challenging biopics in India rather than boring PR jobs that satisfy no-one

Amna Mirza
Publish Date: Oct 27 2016 3:56PM | Updated Date: Oct 27 2016 3:57PM

FILM REVIEW: Dhoni – The Oft-repeated Story

The title of the film is M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, but it is the opposite; what’s shown in the movie is the story that has often been told and which everyone knows. There is amazingly nothing new in the movie. Even if I were to narrate the entire movie verbatim, you might say, “Don’t we already know it all!” That was my reaction on watching the film and experiencing the usual disappointment of watching many such biopics that are made in our country.


Dhoni who grew up in Ranchi is fondly called Mahi by his friends, he faced hardships, worked in the railways and finally made it big in life. We have read it over and over again and salute his struggles. 


Like for thousands around the country, he is one of my favourite cricketers and along with Sourav Ganguly one of the best Indian captains that I can recall. But what I wanted to see was how he coped with the Chennai Super Kings’ controversy? Did he actually have a fall-out with Sehwag? Did Raina and Jadeja get to play because they were managed by his sports firm? Why was his marriage such a hush-hush affair? Does he still meet his friends who he grew up with? How and when? 


Sadly, none of these questions are answered!


In fact, our biopics are nothing more than ego massages and simplistic goody guides. You get to know only what you already know about the person. We never tackle difficult issues or answer the questions that we would naturally be asking. 


The movie threw no light on Dhoni’s IPL stint or talk of his rise due to Srinivasan. Not that it changes my perception of him as the best finisher Indian cricket had seen in a long time or arguably one of the best wicket keepers to have turned up in Indian colours, but that’s not the point. 


I enjoyed watching Zuckerberg’s personal strife in ‘The Social Network’; was glued to the seat to see Dylan’s image transformation in ‘I’m Not There’ and had a whole new insight into Hitler’s character in ‘Downfall’. These biopics have stayed with me despite watching them a few years ago while I have almost completely forgotten Azhar despite watching it a few months back. 


And my comparisons aren’t far-fetched. Azhar and Dhoni are no less rockstars for me and Indians around the globe than a Dylan or a maverick like Zuckerberg. As a fan I want to know about my stars and I feel their biopics will offer me something, which the media hasn’t told me yet. 


The biopics of Zuckerburg, Dylan or Hitler, I mentioned weren’t sensational in revelations. They didn’t lead to burning debates or revealed anything earth shattering. They just portrayed an aspect of life which challenged one, it helped fit in a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that these icons are. It raised some universal debates on private and public personalities, of problems of power, and so on. 


One day I hope we too will have biopics where our directors are able to treat our stars as human and show us their human side. With the kind of cinema we are producing, I am sure we will have one benchmark biopic soon. But that will only happen hopefully when the protagonist will not be the producer or a fan will be director.


-- Dr Amna Mirza is Assistant Professor, Political Studies, University of Delhi