The giant poster at Hinu crossing in Ranchi has become a little wizened. The person at the Fun Cinemas counter sheepishly lets out the numbers for a Tuesday 8.30pm show of M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. “Only 14 so far,” he whispers. The movie is about to begin…
Don’t jump to conclusions too soon. The reality is that the biopic on India’s most successful cricket captain has enjoyed a golden run at the box office as far as his hometown is concerned. That the movie is still in theatres, four weeks after its release, attests the success story.
The only issue many locals in the Jharkhand capital, whose characters feature in the movie, is that the story takes certain liberties with facts and is a bit economical with the truth.
However, Dhoni’s life story understandably pulls at Ranchi’s heartstrings.
Krishna, a resident of Harmu, explains… “I’m here (at the theatre) for the third time and more than the movie itself, I’m coming because of the city connection. He is one of our own who grew up and learnt his cricket here, and went on to become a legend.”
Amit Minz, assistant manager at Fun Cinemas, provides further details. “For the first two weeks, we had 15 shows per day at our theatres. For 12 days at a stretch, all shows were houseful. Now we have four shows per day and till October 25, we have made a gross collection of Rs 54 lakh. Only Dhoom 3 did better business at this movie complex.”
Minz has watched the film and liked the first half that centred around Ranchi. “That’s the untold part. His exploits on the field are well known,” he says.
A segment of Dhoni’s close connections, however, feels a bit let down by the “distortion of facts” and his brother Narendra missing from the film. The Untold Story rightly gives a lot of importance to Dhoni’s sister Jayanti (played by Bhumika Chawla) and how she played a big part in Dhoni’s life. But the movie completely ignores his brother.
Chanchal Bhattacharya, Dhoni’s coach at district level and also at U-16s and U-19s, is not impressed. “The movie has made a good effort to capture Ranchi around Dhoni’s childhood and teens. The Doranda fish market is a throwback to our younger days. It’s surprising that Narendra is missing from the biopic. They grew up together, although they were opposite in nature. Mahi has always been ice cool, while Narendra carried a volatile temper. They separated about four years back, but I don’t know the reason,” Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.
“Also, the Deori temple deserved a mention. Mahi never went to an important cricket match without offering prayers at the temple,” he adds before coming to the “facts distortion” part.
“The movie shows Dhoni playing for his school, Jawahar Vidya Mandir, in 1999. It’s wrong. Mahi, along with his pals Santosh Lal and Shabir Hussain, took admission at Gossner College that year. The film captures Mahi standing dejected at Kolkata airport after missing a flight to Agartala. But he reached there on an afternoon flight and was the 12th man in that game. The filmmakers didn’t do enough research for the biopic.”
Hussain had shared a 317-run opening partnership with Dhoni in school cricket. He is now AG, Patna, and confirms Bhattacharya’s version. “Yes, Dhoni was sent to Agartala and joined the squad. As for the movie, it’s good and enjoyable, but the surroundings it shows were never there. Chittu came into his circles much later, in 2002. He wasn’t Mahi’s best friend right from the start,” he tells this paper.
Paramjit Singh of Prime Sports, who went out of his way to get a kit sponsorship deal for Dhoni, is guarded in his reaction.
“I always want to see Mahi as a winner,” he says, making a request that he doesn’t want publicity around The Untold Story.
Bhattacharya’s 12-year-old daughter Omesha, meanwhile, is not concerned about the specific and practical details. “We all liked it in our school. After all, our school is in focus because of MS Dhoni. The whole class went and enjoyed every scene. He is a hero to all of us and we take pride in the fact that he is from Ranchi,’ says the little girl.
She sums up the mood en masse.