Mary Kom Movie Review: Not Very Compelling But Not Frivolous Either
Aaj paani thanda tha kya
A cheeky line like the one above comes out of nowhere when Priyanka Chopra has a casual chat with her husband who is taking a shower. The connotation here? Well, you must have got that by now. A line or two here or there in the film's narrative keeps the mood light occasionally, hence not quite resulting in an overtly tedious affair. Perhaps this was the endeavour of first time director Omung Kumar too who wanted to tell the story of a woman behind Mary Kom and not just make a film that was centered on the life and times of a sports person.
Now that is always a tough stance to take because audience usually loves to witness an underdog's tale, preferably the one which is peppered with a rags-to-riches touch to it. In case of Mary Kom, the central protagonist never really comes across as the kind who really struggled. Whether it is early days of coaching, beginning of wins, family acceptance, finding love, understanding of colleagues - just about everything (save for a continued battle with the federation - that too not quite overtly persuasive) is laid out well for the woman in question. Perhaps she indeed has enjoyed a good rise to stardom, which is a good thing, but if there was some struggle indeed and that has been cut short then well, perhaps the makers have missed the chance to make Mary Kom a much more compelling affair than what it turns out to be.
Oh yes, there is a major turning point, the one where she and her husband (Darshan Kumar) decide to raise a family. It is interesting to see the dilemma that a sports person v/s a mother plays on screen. The turn of events from this point on right till the major comeback that Mary Kom makes in the end keeps you gripped, especially with the kid angle thrown in. Of course the best 'comeback' in this genre, stage and setting stays on to be fight-to-the-finish between Aamir Khan and Sharat Saxena in the climax of Ghulam. Still, given the fact that one can't really replicate the same magic again, what one gets to see in Mary Kom is engaging enough.
In fact what makes it special is the training sequence in the second half of the film which is remarkably done. It is actually the kind that tires you physically as a viewer just because the lady out there is slogging it out; it is done so well. In fact the other good sequences are the ones in the boxing ring, especially the ones where Priyanka meets her German competitor twice. They are well laid out and lavishly shot, even though rest of the movie has a we-have-to-keep-the-budget-tight feel to it.
Hence, there is no wide canvas akin to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag nor the charged up turn of events a la Chak De India. Where it does score is the emotional appeal due to the mother angle and of course the lady who gets it truly right - Priyanka Chopra. She is out there in practically every scene and gets the part bang on, right from the body language to dialogue delivery to her dress up to her lingo to her overall physique. It is amazing to see how she can just turn into a character itself by doing roles as diverse as the kind in Barfi and Mary Kom with an item number in Ram Leela thrown somewhere in between.
The other actor who too is present in around 75% of the film is Darshan. It was a pleasant surprise to see him get such good prominence when one felt that it would stay on to be mainly Priyanka's show. He is confident, self assured and fits in perfectly well in the part. One does feel though that Sunil Thapa, who plays Priyanka's coach, could have loosened up a bit as he is forever angry and mostly due to no rhyme or reason. Again, a Sharat Saxena or even better, Danny Denzongpa could have been a perfect casting. As for the man playing Priyanka's father, he appears to be conscious of what he is doing and totally hams it up in his most important scene where he begins to support his daughter.
Nevertheless, one has to acknowledge Mary Kom for a film it is as it brings to fore the tale of a woman who is amongst us and is aiming for bigger glories in the next Olympics. Though the film doesn't quite promise to be the next Chak De anthem, it is worthy enough to be a non-frivilous tale of a celebrity who is worth an applause, courtesy the actress who has gone an extra mile to do something different from what others of her ilk are doing.