MS Dhoni: The Untold Story did manage to achieve some of its aim to become what Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’ is for historical biopics
MS Dhoni: The Untold Story was released today five years ago, only to edge a niche in sports biopic history. It went on to earn 66 crore rupees in the first three days, contributed by the worldwide release.
The movie’s not-so-loud on-screen representation of the modern Indian cricketer has set it apart from other biopics, the slew of which began after the success of the MS Dhoni. It seemed that our self-professed national cinema had pegged all the players in the fray waiting to tell their story.
The Neeraj Pandey directorial aimed to create the same effect in sports biopic like Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’ did for historical biopics. But ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ was as intimate as Dhoni and filmmakers allowed it to be. Certain elements or treatment of the characters might be comparable, but not the entire flick.
Richard Attenborough’s historical epic – ‘Gandhi’
Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’ is a rare epic film spanning across decades, tracing the human thread with the help of thousands of cast. There are quite a few remarkable scenes in the entire movie. In the movie, Gandhi at the peak of his career and fame, and his wife of many years is standing near a water body where they reenact their wedding vows shyly. At the end of the scene, he says, “We were 13 at that time.”
The aura of the scene has transfixed both Indian and foreign audiences. The writer will speak more about the Indian audiences due to the sensitivity of the matter. The essence of the very same scene was juxtaposed quite skillfully to Gandhi’s growing maturity, reflected in his smile.
The entire movie rolls on to profess the character Gandhi since his return to the nation and watching his people treated as second-class citizens in their own country. The portrayal of his pain during the Hindu-Muslim divide pinches the audience directly.
Pandey’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
Neeraj Pandey, the man behind capturing various common men stories to successful films, does his job quite well in ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’. The movie is a tale of a young talented cricketer graduating to an old talented cricketer.
The scene where Dhoni is confidently telling the then Indian cricket coach Gary Kirsten to change the batting order, and allow him to go top of the order in the 2011 World Cup Finals against Sri Lanka, creates the mood.
This scene had set the tone of the movie with thumping drum music and rock music playing in the background. ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ starts with an obvious question a father could ask the nurse while his wife is in labour. Anupam Kher playing Dhoni’s father asked the nurse, “Is it a boy or a girl.”
The plot is timely supplemented with music increasing its tempo, needed to make the audience feel the scene and the characters. This movie also involves a paramount cast trying to keep pace with the central character.
The level of intimacy
Both these movies became famous commonly for one reason – portraying the characters as intimately as possible. Unlike ‘Gandhi’, MS Dhoni’s biopic showcases intimacy only to a point allowed by the cricketer and the makers. The thorough attempt to avoid controversy was visible. It was possibly due to the overly (but not required) sentimental population of India, which is bound to rise due to the present-day situation.
Luckily, Attenborough did not have to think about all of this while making the masterpiece, or else things would be a little different today. Delving deeper, it might not translate too much controversy as people clearly don’t understand real Gandhi to date.
The intimacy portrayed by Neeraj Pandey was made to look better with the background score. As mentioned above, Attenborough’s Gandhi did not require much musical support to connect the audiences with the emotion portrayed.
The central characters
Both the movie had showcased the central character without too much OTT. For MS Dhoni’s biopic, the choice of casting Sushant Singh Rajput was ideal, considering the actor’s background. But Ben Kingsley will score far more due to his unforgettable portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi. Kingsley’s performance made audiences feel like that spirit of Gandhi had taken over the screen.
In both the movies, the actors have tried to portray the characters closest to the real beings. But in the MS Dhoni biopic, the grandeur of the central characters was conveyed through multiple gigantic back shots (a cinematic treatment to show larger-than-life characters).
Both these movies had a large supporting cast that supported the main character till the end of the tale. This caste included a fair share of local people to highlight the earthiness of the biopics.