Priyanka Shines In Tribute To India’s One In A Billion Baby

Mary Kom is more about a person who despite facing all odds becomes the world’s número uno through passion, ‘zidd’ and ‘paagalpan’.

Mary Kom (2014)
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Sunil Thapa, Darshan Kumar, Shishir Sharma and Zachary Coffin
Music: Shashi-Shivamm
Director: Omung Kumar
Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Rating: 3.75/5 (averaged with friends)

Despite being a sports blogger and ardent follower of India in non-cricket big events, I hung my head in shame while analyzing India’s prospects for Asian games 2010. It was for the first time I became aware of Mary Kom. By which time she had been bestowed the title of ‘Magnificent Mary’, won five World Championship golds, nurtured two lovely babies, survived a near tragedy, fought poverty, federations and odds to be one of India’s living sports legends.

Two years later she added an Olympic medal to her glorious tally. But till date, India hardly knows her, barely recognizes her and most will struggle to put a finger on Manipur’s coordinates in a blank map of India.

This story had to be told. The opening scene of SLB’s Mary Kom portrays the apathy of a three time world champion staying in a dilapidated house, walking over muddy dirty lanes, in torrential rain, in search of transport, to reach the hospital and deliver her babies.

Mary Kom Movie Still

Instantly, I wished instead of an inspiring movie fighting opponents, Omung Kumar had made a Paan Singh Tomar – mirroring the nation and society which refuses to acknowledge sportsmen. Racist attacks against people from the North East have made headlines recently, indicating deep seated ignorance about this part of our country.

Priyanka gives her best performance to assure none could have done better. If word of mouth spreads, it will be only be for her. She will make it to all the annual awards contenders list, but likely will remain unfortunate as pitted against Queen Kangana. Kudos also to Bollywood for giving us the year’s fifth women centric film – Highway, Bobby Jasoos and Mardaani being the others.

The nature of boxing as a sport has great ingredients for a revenge movie, which Hollywood has cashed upon well – Million Dollar Baby to Cinderella Man to Rocky series. Bollywood’s answer so far had been Boxer, Apne and Ghulam. The last mentioned is a better product than Mary Kom.

This story is more about a person despite facing all odds becoming the world’s número uno through passion, ‘zidd’ and ‘paagalpan’. Unfortunately the odds aren’t highlighted enough, nor are the victories celebrated much. The movie has less ‘lump in throat’ or ‘heart pounding’ moments, as could have been made. We see most of what already came in the newspapers. The surprise factor, the shock element is missing. Her struggles, parents’ sacrifices and boxing rivalries deserved more depth and screen time, although that would have compromised on pace.

Mary Kom Movie Still

Still, credit is due. Biopics are hardly watched here, which justifies the certain degree of masala added to the film to attract the masses. The support cast, particularly Darshan Kumar, is commendable. Manipur’s lush greenery and Manali landscape are shot beautifully.

The preparation scenes are great and Priyanka towers over every situation effortlessly. The makers keep the surroundings realistic and efforts to give the protagonist a local look – slightly bloated cheeks to make the eyes smaller, freckles, thicker lips and flatter chest – work well.

Mary Kom the boxer, meanwhile, is preparing for Olympics 2016 undeterred, runs a fight club for ladies self-defense and not a patch of a celebrity when compared to Sania Mirza or even some male boxers. Blame it on the government, media and ignorance. She received two crore rupees from various ministries after her 2012 Olympic medal.

Hence, thank you Omung, Sanjay, Priyanka and here’s wishing Magnificient Mary the very best for Rio 2016.

Go watch it and take your daughters along.

Box Office Prospects : India’s best women centric movie, Queen, started poorly and after word of mouth labored to 97 crores. Word of mouth will hold key for Mary Kom, and likely it will end up grossing around the 50-70 crore mark, although I wish it touches triple digits.


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