For the actors its wee-bit more challenging than singing and dancing around trees or punching away villains; and the actors’ calibre to get into the skin of the role, pun well intended, is considered the half-point of success. We clearly remember Irfann and Milkha, oops Farhan Akhtar, and without being too critical, a little bit of Priyanka Chopra too for her photoshoots.
But cricket is not boxing and athletics, and in this country every single Indian is a cricket expert, who is ready with his own set of ‘tracer bullets’! Everyone has actually played cricket, and every guy around the corner is only a slightly lesser batsman than most in Team India. Yet there’s no one like Dhoni. And that’s precisely the point.
Can Sushant Rajput, who did teach a cover drive and pulled the roller and the nets with his masculine physique in Kai Po Che, play the helicopter shot? Can he drive just like Dhoni does, or nudge in his own unique way? Without doubting Sushant’s acting abilities, perhaps he can mimic Dhoni’s mannerisms – like flapping his gloves after every delivery, smile like him, wear the number 7 jersey and even grow long hair that made MSD iconic in his early days. But can he play cricket like Dhoni?
The viewers can accept Sushant the actor as Dhoni the person, but will the viewers accept Sushant the cricketer as Dhoni the batsman/wicketkeeper? That will decide the fate of this movie. Else, the makers have to clearly stay away from his cricket, and perhaps there’s some hint of it in the tagline that says: MS Dhoni --- the untold story. But won’t that be such a letdown?
There have been a slew of bad cricket movies, and then there was Iqbal. But Dhoni’s biopic will raise the bar like no other film has. Ever.
Shreyas Talpade and the great Nasseruddin Shah was amateurish in their cricketing skills but fiction allowed them to get away with it. But this is a biopic, and the key is adaptation, and depiction where reel should meet reel. There’s little chance of going wrong, because it’s on Indian cricket’s greatest skipper, and a current heartthrob. It helps when Dhoni’s company is being part of it; that should take care of the nitty-gritties, but the success of this film will determine if the sports biopics will keep trending or not. Like they, its never too easy being in Dhoni’s shoes.
(Once an aspiring cricketer, the author now makes his living by writing and commentating on cricket. He is Associate Editor with ABP News. He tweets at @GSV1980.)