Mary Kom review: A thrilling ringside view!
Mary Kom review: A thrilling ringside view!
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 5 September 2014
Priyanka Chopra, Zachary Coffin, Darshan Kumaar
It's rare to see a biopic about a person who is still young and rocking - most tend to relive a faded legend's past. (Mary Kom, mom of three kids, is set to compete in the upcoming Asian Games with an eye on the 2016 Olympics.) For offering a ringside view into this exhilarating story, the film gets brownie points.
And then you have Priyanka Chopra, transformed into Mary Kom, to give us this year's most earnest, memorable performance thus far!
When Priyanka's Mary Kom saunters into the local boxing academy asking to be trained, the coach is dismissive (this portion will have you thinking back to Million Dollar Baby). She persists so strongly, the coach (Sunil Thapa, excellent) calls her ziddi. That of course is to be her strength in days to come, as the training gets tougher.
Come to think of it, Priyanka must have had an equal amount of this determination and stubbornness to take on this role. It's not just the accent and the look and all of that - it's also breathing Mary Kom's story, sensing and expressing her disappointments and triumphs completely, and physically training the way a boxing world champ would. Which is why, her performance envelops you and makes you relive the story.
Debut director Omung Kumar shatters many cliches expected of biopics. The first, as I mentioned, was that the subject is in form and active in her professional field even now. Secondly, Kumar makes no attempt to make her story any larger than it is. He is very clear that the story's extraordinariness lies within ordinary details.
So he plays up her feisty spirit, as we see it take form in her early years as well. From bashing up her friend's abusive boyfriend in school, to pursuing her goal with fanatic focus, she's an exceptional person indeed. Her rise to the top makes you want to cheer- for a girl from a village in Manipur becoming a boxing legend is the stuff of fairytales.
But as the story progresses, her struggles change. At first the aim was to beat all odds, and reach the top. Post-marriage and babies, this tussle becomes even more acute. And this is a dilemma that several parents will be able to identify with- the time when a deadline coincides with the child's fever or when there is no option but to leave a wailing child at the creche. It's the daily struggle of every parent, and in this case, it is far more amplified.
Kumar brings out these everyday essences beautifully in the story. And it's a delight to watch Priyanka storm into the boxing court, punch the daylights out of her opponents, and return home to turn into a tender mom!
Darshan Kumaar as Mary's super-cool husband Onler is equally superb. It's an interesting role to play ? to be the strong support, and yet not be overshadowed. And Darshan plays it with the right amount of understated confidence and charm.
Apart from this emotional essence, the film has loads of drama. The matches are electrifyingly shot, and you're riveted throughout. The spat between athletes and the inconsiderate government officials is also superb. You feel for the athletes, who have to fight on an empty stomach, competing with countries that provide their participants with the best facilities.
Dialogue is wonderful. There's that line by the coach- "A goal is just as stubborn as you. Only if you move towards it, will it move towards you". Another striking one is the coach asking Mary to "surrender" to boxing and give the sport her happiness, time and even identity. Mary's standoff with the officials also has some great stuff.
About the only grouses are slight accent inconsistencies and a blatant use of in-film endorsements, often clumsily handled. The gimmick towards the end where you have to stand, balancing your popcorn and samosa, is just unnecessary.
Who would have thought that a female sportsperson from Manipur battling financial problems, disapproving parents, family responsibilities and lack of basic facilities would rise to this level, win at the Olympics and be awarded the Padma Bhushan. The film is about the triumph of a person who makes it against all odds. Mary Kom is an important film that's hugely inspiring. But more importantly, it's also great fun to watch. Book your tickets, I say!