MS Dhoni The Untold Story didn’t give us what we wanted as an audience – a gritty, no-hold-barred look at a celebrated cricketer’s life, warts and all. Biopics make great films. They draw inspiration from real life incidents and infuse a depth that is otherwise difficult to create on screen. However, with its flaws, MS Dhoni succeeded in transporting the audience to the world of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni when he was just a young boy in Ranchi with big dreams.
And the credit goes to one person for this, Sushant Singh Rajput. The actor somehow managed to give a stellar performance and made us believe we were watching MSD himself on screen. Sushant played a boy from a lower middle-class family with utmost sincerity. You can see a certain vulnerability in his character as he starts exploring his opportunities. From his mannerisms in a cricket stadium in Ranchi to his hanging out with his friends, he played the role with complete conviction. Yet, his belief in his sheer talent never leaves him, again so characteristic of a small town upbringing. And that somehow seeped in the entire movie.
The first half of the film belongs to Sushant’s sheer acting abilities. As an actor, he was able to transport us to the life of a man who dreamed big. The film anchored by Sushant’s powerful performance creates a curiosity and familiarity among you to know more about Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his family and city. Isn’t that an actor’s job? That he brings a certain novelty to a film. That he convinces and makes you believe in the film’s story. Sushant holds your attention with his act. His ability to play a humble personality with immense confidence gave a new life to MS Dhoni The Untold Story.
Still, in recently conducted Star Screen Awards shows he was not chosen as the best actor in the male category. He was handed over Best Actor Critics’ Choice awards. Instead of recognising and celebrating this new talent, our jury and filmmakers carried out the same old ritual of handing an award to a popular actor who has managed to give a hit. We just wonder what stopped jury to celebrate the new, raw talent of Sushant Singh Rajput? Amitabh Bachchan’s act in Pink was not novel. We have seen him doing that for so many times, the angry man out to demand justice.
We have seen actors who have played lawyers with more ease and conviction. In Pink, we see an angry Mr. Bachchan spouting a few lines, stare at the judge and walk away with the Best Actor Award. And Pink had the amazing support of six new actors. Only it was Bachchan who got to play that demigod who finally saved the girls from facing an attempt to murder charge. Dhritiman Chatterjee’s act as a judge was far more convincing than that of Bachchan’s. Only if our jury could see that.
In terms of box office collections also, MS Dhoni surpassed many of the celebrated films of the year. MS Dhoni is the third highest grossing film of the year after Sultan and The Jungle Book. Unlike Ranbir Kapoor’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, it didn’t have all those songs and dance sequences and Karan Johar’s direction. Unlike Sultan, MS Dhoni didn’t have a Khan either. Sushant Singh Rajput, in contrast, paints a different picture. His presence did wonders for MS Dhoni.
Even if we leave aside the awards show, where was all that loud noise that usually accompanies an actor’s performance in a hit movie? Why there was no Sushant Singh appearance on Koffee With Karan? Why is he not celebrated the same way as, say, Alia Bhatt or any other newcomer with an established surname? Why there were no big announcements of films starring Sushant Singh Rajput? Why we don’t take Sushant’s name in the same category as we take of others like Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor?
We can’t hear the success of an outsider like Sushant Singh Rajput as Bollywood is too busy honking its own old tune. Probably, it is time to accept change and look for people beyond Khans and Kapoors.