Film, Hindi, Review

Mary Kom

Based on the life of boxer Mary Kom, the film charts out the story of Mary (Priyanka Chopra) from her humble beginnings in a Manipuri village, her initial years of strife, her rise to becoming World Champion, her struggle with motherhood, her comeback to the ring and her subsequent triumph.

Mary Kom is a real-life hero. The kind of anomaly and a success story that dreams are made of. A woman from a small village tucked away in Manipur, fighting against a number of stigmas, both figuratively and literally, and rising to the stature of World Champion – Her story has all the elements for a great biopic. However, Mary Kom the movie is hardly that. Laden with an incredibly manipulative screenplay, the cringe-factor is pretty high here.

The real life struggle of Mary Kom has been deliberately cartoonized for a friendlier appearance and consumption. So instead of trying to concentrate on her struggle and ordeal, this movie provides us with Mary Kom’s struggle sponsored by Usha Fans, Havmor Ice Cream, Sugar-Free and Intex mobile phones.After a while, I was pretty sure the movie would be interrupted by a full-blown advertisement telling how Mary used a particular product to become a World Champion, so you should go and buy it right now. Who gives a damn about her story anyway, right? It’s extremely sad to see such a story of a real life hero being reduced to a mish-mash of manipulative direction and a barrage of advertisements.

The good parts of the movie appear in bits and pieces. The supporting performances are average with the roles played by the Nepalese actor Sunil Thapa standing out as Mary’s coach as does Mary’s father who gives a moving performance. Priyanka Chopra, like the film, is good in parts and it would have been great to see an actor making a role her own as a real-life character but thanks to the incessant advertisements, her performance looks like we are watching another one of her goddamn commercials. So we end up watching Priyanka Chopra as Mary for parts of the movie and in the rest of the movie we are just watching Priyanka Chopra.

The movie is technically pretty sound and the fight scenes have been choreographed pretty well though they never look too realistic and cinematic goofs like live Hindi commentary blaring out in a Chinese stadium help to reduce any effect whatsoever. And that climax. Ah, what a travesty of humongous and excruciatingly cringe-inducing proportions. The directorial decision of almost killing one of her children just to intensify the drama on-screen should be reason enough for us to understand the intentions of the filmmaker but the debutant Director Omung Kumar (production designer for many Bhansali movies) doesn’t stop there. He uses the National Anthem to invoke a standing ovation from the viewers at the end because “just in case you were not moved enough by the near-death of Mary’s child, here is the National Anthem, which will move you. For sure. Physically.” It unsubtly reeks of the opportunistic tendency of the whole screenplay which manufactures and fictionalises large portions of Mary’s life to give us the story of a boxer that may be called Mary Kom but is definitely not Mary Kom. This ‘biopic’ ends up being equal parts fictionalised and commercial instead of a true account. Our heroes deserve better. Much better.


Hindi, Drama, Biopic, Color

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