Lets face it. Neeraj Pandey doesn’t get romance. Period. He’s shown us just that in Special 26 (IMDb) and again in Baby (IMDb) (Both terrific films, mind you). M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is no different.
This movie is clearly in two parts.
The first is an exceedingly well made Iqbal..ish, dreams-of-a-small-town-boy part. The director spins an inspiring tale of the struggles and the disappointments and success of a boy who doesn’t settle for less. The practice, the friends, the samosas.. All done to perfection.
Neeraj Pandey excels at this and it is where the director’s, and by extension the film’s greatest strength lies.
Unfortunately, the second part is a stereotypical Bollywood love story complete with honeymooning, bike riding, shirt flying absurdity. Pandey’s lack of expertise shows and despite spending a large chunk of the film’s runtime on Dhoni’s love life, the whole thing comes off as half-baked.
There is a 180 degree tonal shift from the first half and the movie never recovers. The eventual payoff too comes off as extremely weak. The director fails to do what movies like Moneyball (IMDb) have done expertly. Towards the end the entire affair becomes repetitive and you start looking at your watch.
The movie never offers the “Untold” part it promises. It shies away from the controversies (barring a couple) and gives us a sugar-coated version of the story.
The cast does well. Sushant Singh Rajput handles the role like a boss. He shines especially in his scenes as the TC at the Kharagpur Station. He manages to imbibe Dhoni’s mannerisms but never to an extent where it overshadows his performance. He creates a hero we truly want to see succeed.
Disha Patani & Kiara Advani serve no purpose other than to be beautiful distractions. Anupam Kher is reduced to being a typical “Padhai pe dhyan do” dad but does well with whatever little he’s been given. The friends make a cheerful lot and provide some good laughs.
Watch it for Sushant’s fabulous performance and the inspiring first half.