Bollywood has over the years been known for its commercial 'masala' films, however, every once in a while, the industry also gives birth to films that tell the real life stories which touch your heart and soul. While the former gets many takers, the latter is fast becoming popular. Thanks to the new found attention being given to reality based films, there are many filmmakers out there who have and are waiting in wings to try their hand at making movies based on the real life stories of iconic personalities. A few examples (read 'testimony') in the past have been films like BOSE: THE FORGOTTEN HERO, GURU, GANDHI MY FATHER, THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH, PAAN SINGH TOMAR and not forgetting the controversial film THE DIRTY PICTURE. Interestingly, films on sports personalities are picking up with CHAK DE INDIA and more recently BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG winnings the audience's heart.
This week's release, Omung Kumar's MARY KOM is one such film which is a biopic on one of India's most illustrious sports personalities, Mary Kom, who, despite all her hardships, put our country on the international map with her achievements. The film goes on to show the real life story of this sports star, which not many are aware of. The film serves as an eye opener not just on the fact that India can produce international 'gold medal winning' boxers, but also that Manipur is very much a part of India!
The irony of the film is that, while it starts off with a pregnant Mary Kom (Priyanka), who later goes on to 'deliver' a performance of a lifetime. Mary and her ever-so-supportive husband Onler Kom (Darshan Kumaar) fight against all odds in a curfew stricken Manipur to ensure the safe delivery of Mary. Hereon, the viewers are subjected to a series of flashback events which lead to the making of the star pugilist 'Mary Kom'. Delving into her upbringing, the film explores her past that includes her father's strict opposition to boxing during her childhood and Mary's undying spirit and love for the sport.
Omung does a great job of building up the climax with heart wrenching scenes where Mary chooses to box over spending a blissful life with her family. Post her opting to box, Mary accidentally lands up at the boxing training academy of her coach Narjit Singh (Sunil Thapa), who, after seeing her persistence, teaches her that 'the world maybe round for everyone, but her world should be the shape of the boxing ring, a Square'! Mary's talent for the sport combined with her coach's training form a deadly unbeatable lethal combo who go on to win international competitions galore.
However, things come to standstill when Mary marries Onler Kom, despite her coach's firm opposition, and Mary's subsequent pregnancy, and her delivering twin children, thus bidding adieu to her long cherished game of boxing, something which her coach had always feared for. Resigned to live the life of a commoner finding it difficult to survive with two kids, Mary applies for a job, but the job she gets is that of a 'hawaldaar', something that slaps her from within. Unable to continue with a mundane existence, Mary vows to make a comeback in the ring, this time round, minus the support of her coach, a decision which proves wrong in the long run.
Now, after serious losses in the ring, the absence of her coach and the unbending politics of the boxing federation, Mary faces an uphill task. Will she manage to convince her coach to train her again and will she manage to overcome the boxing federation forms the rest of the film.
Omung Kumar certainly deserves an ovation for having shown the guts to make a biopic on Mary Kom, something which will surely go down in the history of exemplary biopics on Indian celluloid. He has managed to achieve the task of making Priyanka refrain from imitating the real Mary Kom, at the same time managed to show her inimitable love for the sports and her spirit to fight against all odds. The film definitely serves as an eye opener to all those who were ignorant about Mary and her contributions to the sports arena.
As far as the performances are concerned, it is indeed Priyanka Chopra who steals the show. She does total justice to this author backed role. One just cannot but miss the transformation of 'Marte Chun Chun Kong' to MC Mary Kom and also the scene when she confronts the boxing federations' chief. When you have a role that's tailor made for the heroine, it leaves us with no doubt about the screen space for the hero. But, in this film, it's the 'hero' Darshan Kumaar, who exhibits good screen presence and holds his ground firm, despite Priyanka's towering performances. Full marks go to Sunil Thapa, who shows his emotional, professional and rational sides with equal ease. He is exactly what the highly ranked coaches are made up of. Same applies to the couple playing Mary's parents. The rest of the cast help the film to move forward without any glitches or flaws.
The music of the film (Shashi Suman, Shivam) is just not upto the mark, but its shortcoming is overshadowed by the film's background score (Rohit Kulkarni) and the film's crisp editing by the man himself Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who also is the producer of the film. Brownie points go to Saiwyn Quadras for his screenplay and story, Karan Singh Rathore-Ramendra Vashishth for their dialogue and dialect. The film's cinematography by Keiko Nakahara is totally at par with costume designer Isha Mantry.
On the whole, MARY KOM is definitely worth a watch. The icing on the cake is that the film has been made tax free, something that should help the film in pulling the audiences to the theatres, besides the word of mouth. Go for it.