Monday, September 08, 2014

Mary Kom 

 Queen of Sports

It’s such a pity that an inspiring story like Mary Kom’s rise to boxing glory gets the full Bollywood treatment. Mary Kom’s life, without all this embellishment, must have been so eventful, her struggles so tough, her victories so precious, that it needed a filmmaker who could present it with the honour and awe it deserved.

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom belongs to Manipur, but the film just ignores the conditions in the troubled North Eastern region, or tries to even cursorily examine why boxing is so popular there, with both men and women. It doesn’t even bother  to go into how Mary got so passionate about boxing. There is a fleeting scene in which a little girl wandering around what looks like a bomb site, picks up a boxing glove.

Next thing you know, Mary as played by Priyanka Chopra is brawling with boys at school. Why is she so aggressive? No idea. While chasing a boy who beat her up when she attacked him, she spots a boxing institute, begs the coach Narjit Singh (Sunil Thapa) to teach her, and that’s where it starts. There’s a fully filmi scene in which Mary picks a street fight with a big, burly boxer to earn money to retrieve the family’s pet cow. Strange, that her father (Robin Das) who is vehemently against her boxing, doesn’t notice that she sneaks out every morning for training or returns with cuts and bruises on her face. But there is the melodramatic scene in which the father tosses her gloves into the stove and demands that she choose between him and boxing, and she chooses boxing!

The coach renames her MC Mary Kom, and so focussed is she that she starts her winning spree, in spite of the indifference of the Boxing Federation and poor conditions—fighting on a tea and banana diet!  The Federation is represented by one villainous official, who takes an almost sadistic pleasure in humiliating Mary.

The real conflict arises when, against the advice of her coach, she decides to marry the kind Onler (Darshan Kumaar), and then gives birth to twins, thus putting an end to her glorious career.  So much so that a kid who is her fan, does not recognise her on the bus. (She is so upset by her pregnancy, that one wonders why they didn’t practise birth control!)

Her husband inspires her to resume, the father and the coach come around, and Mary becomes a winner again, after going through a boot camp in picturesque Manali, pretty much like the one in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

The climax is so excessive and cringeworthy, that if it is true, then Mary Kom’s life must have been scripted by fate in a Bollywood frame of mind.

Priyanka Chopra lends Mary Kom a basic competence, and has obviously put in hard work, but the film needed a new face; because the other actors look authentic, her fakeness stands out.  If the film is still somewhat watchable, it’s because of the real Mary Kom, not the counterfeit one.


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