Rating: 2.5/5 Star (Two and Half stars)
Star Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Darshan Kumaar, Sunil Thapa, Minakkshi Kalitaa, Zachary Coffin, Shishir Sharma
Director: Omung Kumar
What’s Good: Priyanka Chopra is ace in the role of Mary Kom. She is dedicated, sincere, earnest and nothing short of brilliant.
What’s Bad: The bad direction, sketchy narrative that makes the film devoid of soul.
Loo break: Far too many than I had expected.
Watch or Not?: Mary Kom is not an unbearable film but it is largely unwatchable. It was painful to see the most hardworking sporting star of India being reduced in a film that is a caricaturish blend of Chak De! and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Obviously I went in with far too many expectations but this film isn’t a heartfelt attempt at film-making. If you at all decide to watch the film, do so for Priyanka who upholds the unbreakable spirit of Mary Kom, in its most pristine form. When everything else scrambles apart, Chopra courageously puts in better than her best foot. I wish the story could give both Chopra and Kom their dues. Sadly magnificent Mary loses herself in the maleficent trappings of Bollywood floss.
Based on the life of Olympic Champion Mary Kom, the film traces her story to success. Daughter of a small villager, in the troubled state of Manipur, this woman dared to dream beyond what was allowed to her. In a country where sports means cricket,she despite being a woman pursues a career in boxing against the wishes of her father. At the peak of her career she gets married to Ondler (Darshan Kumaar) and soon enough delivers twins. Married with two babies, unable to get a decent job, she returns to boxing. But her body has changed and she doesn’t have stamina and youth by her side. Lecherous, slimy bureaucrats too go against her. How she rises from a self imposed life of oblivion to claim back the success she deserves in What the film captures.
Mary Kom Review: Script Analysis
In a scene in the film, Mary’s baby pees on an old paper clipping that was a glimpse of her former glory. In one scene, minus any words, the heart wrenching and moving story of Mary Kom was conveyed with such brutal conviction. It takes that little to create an impact. But there aren’t many scenes in the film which will convey the same to the audiences. In plain words, this was a plastic attempt to tell a beautiful, memorable story. But the persistent problem with this film is the lack of depth in it. All through the first hour, too much time is wasted on harping upon the father-daughter’s strained relationship which out of the blue, miraculously fixes itself when an emotional, dejected wrestler father suddenly cheers for her daughter’s match as he watches her on television, playing for India. On paper, it was a very emotional cue, I bet. But when the same happened on screen, I cracked up. Such cinematic liberties in a biopic of a living person, is the heights of being irresponsible.
The story written by Saiwyn is immensely predictable. Nothing shocks you. I was expecting the insensitive federation Sarkari babus, who trip on their own ego to feel above the real achievers. I was expecting her conflict with her coach. I was expecting her to face the same aggressive player, she had beaten to pulp, against her in a match that will mark her return. The story offers neither anything novel nor anything that explains that the film has its heart in the right places. The fabric is too unreal. I remember reading Kom’s Unbreakable. It wasn’t anything path-breaking as ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ but it was brave and motivational, to say the least.
The film loses tension too early. The goosebumps that the trailer left by fizzled out too soon for me. The fact that the writers projected her as a hot headed, fight-picking, short tempered, trying too hard to be strong sort of a person doesn’t go down well. Give her the credit that she has worked hard against all Odds of resistant family, insensitive society and rigid laws of nature to become what she eventually did. The message of misguided, forced feminism is something I am better spared off.
And finally, the problem is Mary’s lack of chemistry with her husband who had been her pivotal support system. Priyanka has paper thin chemistry with Kumar and the story has such spurts of engrossing moments and boring cues that by the end credits you are confused about your feelings for the film. I, for one, was sure I was left exhausted, disappointed and upset. And my heart reached out to Chopra who did everything to save a bad film but the canvas of the movie could not do justice to her potential.
Mary Kom Review: Star Performances
I am back to being in love with Priyanka. Where was this lady in Zanjeer, Gunday, Krrish 3? Delivering such a power packed performance, she gets every note right, every shade of the character correct and emotes every emotion to perfection. Her physical delving into the role too helped her infuse authenticity in the role that was otherwise all gloss-no meat. She was engrossed in her performance that everytime the film stumbles, you feel bad for Chopra.
For the rest of the cast, I have no kind words. Thapa grumbles too much. Kumar fumbles too much. And others aren’t allowed well fleshed out roles.
Mary Kom Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Omung Kumar is so clearly an advertisement guy. He is brilliant at selling stuff so smartly that in a gripping scene you’ll be told how Prega informs you correctly about unplanned pregnancy, Iodex works better than its competitors, Mother Dairy milk is what made Kom strong and finally Tata Salt is desh ka namak. I had far too many facepalm moments, unintentionally funny moments and heartbreaking moments. Kumar’s lack of experience ruins a perfectly good story. His style assured me that he isn’t cut out for biopics. His problem is that he can’t inject emotions or authenticity in his films and neither can he help you delve into Karan Johar’s world of super-realism that lures you to it. Mary Kom’s story is anything but bland, however, the film is often insipid. His boxing bits are well done I admit but it doesn’t interest you like the hockey matches in Chak De did. The use of the reference is just to explain why Mary Kom fails to impress and the former did not. It is the faltering gusto that doesn’t work. Despite having a different ending of every match, the celebration of the sport does not reflect in the film.
I can forgive that the film doesn’t capture why sports and music are two very important veins of Manipur or their insurgency issue. But Kumar’s failure is in his inability to capture Mary’s life interestingly, with the right feel, recreating the impact of having her shine at the Olympics. I think news channels did it better than a tribute film could do for her.
The last act was too forced and ridiculous. It was a terrible idea to alternate between a dying baby and a heart broken mother who cannot be there for her child because she has to claim back her lifeline (boxing). The alternating shots irritate you enough to not allow you to focus, diluting the climactic impact attempted by its makers. The shabby editing too adds on to the inconsistent narrative but blame the lack of love in the director’s vision. He did not feel the story he was creating and that’s when it was a lost war for the cause.
Mary Kom Review: The Last Word
The cinema child inside me was bruised and I could not bring myself to like Mary Kom. As a woman, I deeply respect her and draw inspiration from her. But the film that was aspiring to reach her story to millions falls prey to mawkish ways and tells a half baked, semi-impactful, immature story that doesn’t allow you to empathize, feel for or connect with the subject they are paying tribute to. This film was clearly a business vehicle that was made to draw money than to create good cinema for posterity sake. I am going with a 2.5 /5. I have not returned this upset from a film since Imtiaz Ali’s Highway which broke my heart for being insincere. This was a more unexciting experience. Ouch!
Mary Kom Trailer
Mary Kom releases on 5th September, 2014.
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