M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story ***Dir: Neeraj Pandey. With: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kiara Advani, Anupam Kher, Bhoomika Chawla. 184 mins. Cert: PG
More five-dayer than 20:20 blast, Neeraj Pandey’s hefty Hindi biopic seizes upon the Indian cricket captain as a long-haired, motorbike-riding poster boy for the country’s modernisation. This Dhoni (Sushant Singh Rajput) strides out with logo-emblazoned bat onto a succession of pitches incrementally grander than the one his humble engineer father (Anupam Kher) struggled to water; even his erratic development – stuck checking train tickets after a promising student career – seems somehow tied to the state and fate of the nation. Any Boycottian analysis would rule certain aspects a tad daft – there probably wouldn’t be so many midwicket musical montages in The Andrew Strauss Story – and the tone’s somewhere between understandably fond and fawning. Still, the on-field activity’s convincing, and Rajput makes MSD a winning mix of eyes-on-the-prize focus, square-jawed stoicism and quiet humility. Pandey holds up this career as cause for communal celebration, and his film has the big-match temperament to set us cheering – or, in this Englishman’s case, politely applauding.
M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is now playing in selected cinemas.