Mary Kom

mary-kom-poster

Mary Kom
Release date: September 5, 2014
Directed by: Omung Kumar
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Darshan Kumar, Rajni Basumatary, Sunil Thapa, Shishir Sharma (WHY ARE THE END CREDITS ROLLING DOWN SO FAST!?)

Biopics always get the viewers’ guard up, be it in terms of factual details or just the chronology of events in the title character’s life as compared to the real timeline of those events in the person’s lifetime. MC Mary Kom is a boxer who still actively competes, and that may have deprived the makers of this film from putting a definitive byline to it. Unlike Paan Singh Tomar or Milkha Singh. Yet, they don’t even make good of what they have at hand.

Mary Kom’s story is shown in a non-linear order, going back and forth between her current maternal state and her humble beginnings. The struggle to attend legitimate training, the opposition of a family member, her ‘love story’ and even her initial round of victories are shown in a matter-of-fact manner; which translates to no empathy/sympathy for the lead character. Everything just happens, and nor any of it is given any depth whatsoever.

If you replaced all of the actually-boxing-in-the-ring parts and substituted them with any other sport, you wouldn’t spot a difference. There’s absolutely no insight on technique, no interesting anecdotes. All of what I just mentioned might appear to be superficial flaws if they stuck with an uncompromising story at the core. But they falter at that too.

Kom’s fight against the Federation has no base to play out on. The disagreement with the officials who don’t select her for her comeback tournament comes up short, even somewhat (unintentionally) sympathetic to the apparently erring officials. An ill-placed self-victimizing racism allegation, in a film where not a single vague racist stereotype is depicted, left me with a strong pungent repulsion for the protagonist in that particular scene.

What’s likeable, you ask. Priyanka Chopra’s grit as Kom, the victory dances and her incoherent and unexplained anger outbursts. With an unnecessary mishmash of two floundering accents, she’s the hero *cough* yes, hero. You don’t have to use ‘heroine’ just because it’s a woman! She has various layers to her, a liberty that almost no other character was bestowed upon. Darshan Kumar, who plays her friend-lover-husband shows shades of range, only to be clipped by the editor or perhaps the writer. Sunil Thapa as M. Narjit Singh is stellar and thank the heaven and hells, he doesn’t have a horrible hybrid accent.Also, lo and behold Keiko Nakahara’s photography. If the film makes you shut up and watch, her frames have a major part to play in that.

The first-half of the film is just a series of shots and scenes highlighting no specific hurdles of Kom, making you question what direction is the film going in. Alas, in the second half, the screenplay starts to assume a certain shape and form. Notwithstanding the formulaic reuse of generic components, the lack of a potent downfall of the athlete and the persistent one-dimensional treatment of major characters, Priyanka Chopra and the spirit of Mary Kom keep fighting to grip you. Do they grip you? Of course they do, because they don’t make movies on influential women in India. Yet.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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