Sep 6, 2014

'Mary Kom' is Neat, Sincere and Inspiring

Attempting to make a biopic on a sportsperson is tricky enough, add to it the fact that the subject in question still happens to be active and very much in the news; then you are virtually playing with fire. Howsoever ignorant the Indian public may be about the Northeast, most of them would have at least gone through the real Mary Kom's Wikipedia page since a movie on her life was announced. It is in this context and the fact that you already know which way the boxing match in the climax would go, 'Mary Kom' stands out and deserves praise. Debutante director Omung Kumar and story & screenplay writer Saiwyn Quadras smartly go up, close and personal into the champion boxer's life and beautifully weave the narrative around her life's challenges and predicaments.

The film interestingly and cleverly does not follow Mary Kom's career's most recent events (the boxer's bronze medal winning effort in the last Olympics Games). Starting from Mary's younger days in Manipur where she battles insurgency, poverty, her father's resistance and society's prejudices, the film eventually closes after tracing the boxer's unbelievable comeback to the top (wining the 2008 Women's Boxing World Championship Gold in China) after getting married and delivering twins, and while battling the sports administration's apathy.

The film's biggest strength lies in the way it depicts Mary Kom's unusual relationship with three important men in her life- her husband, coach and father, and how it shapes the boxer's life on and off the boxing ring. Darshan Kumar as Onler Kom, Mary's out-of-the-world husband beautifully underplays his part and ends up making you smile and dote over him (and of course, the 'real' Onler). The actor as the ever-supportive husband, friend and motivator who gives up his own career, baby sits the twins and digests all the barbs of the world for being a man who 'lets his wife go out and get beaten', looks very believable and effective. Shiv Thapa as Mary's maverick coach is affable and outstanding.

Aided by a wonderful support cast, Priyanka Chopra gets into the role of Mary Kom with her heart and soul, and boy it shows! The actress is almost flawless in her dialogue delivery and diction, powerful and fierce when she is punching her opponents, and vulnerable and excitable when she is confronted with emotions. This is easily one of Priyanka's finest performances that is oozing with sincerity and dedication. The gorgeous actress has gone de-glam, bulked up and trained really hard to play her part and it has come out magnificently on the screen. Thankfully, the director does not fall prey to the temptation of trying to make Priyanka 'look' like Mary Kom. This is an out and out commercial film that never tries to come across as something which it isn't or cannot be (characters maintain a consistently believable accent while they speak in Hindi, no one goes overboard in trying to look and sound like a Manipuri).

But, everything is not ten on ten in the film. The film's soundtrack, although played in the background, is a big downer and distracts you many a times from the narrative. Also, the first half of the film gets a tad slow towards the interval and you suspect that the makers look a little lost while trying to bridge the pre-marriage and post-marriage events of Mary's life. The climax of the film also looks a little over-dramatized, especially when most of the film moves you without trying to be too dramatic.

All said and done, Mary Kom definitely has more pluses than pitfalls and it surely qualifies as a fine biopic that never lacks purpose and honesty. Watch it for Priyanka Chopra's stellar performance, balanced storytelling and to get inspired from one of India's greatest sportswoman's unbelievably remarkable journey to the top.

Rating: *** 1/2 (Three and Half - Very Good)

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