Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions’ Mary Kom is a biopic. It traces the journey of a little girl from a small town in Manipur, who dreamt of becoming a boxer – and became one, making India proud by becoming the world champion a number of times.
Mangte Chungne Zang (Priyanka Chopra) loved boxing right from childhood but her strict father (Robin Das) would hear nothing of the girl taking to boxing. Still, Mangte Chungne Zang registers her name with the boxing coach (Sunil Thapa), of course, unknown to her father.
Mangte Chungne Zang’s father learns of her boxing bouts when she first wins a competition and her photograph is published in the local newspaper. By then, she has been rechristened M.C. Mary Kom by her coach. The father is so angry with her for taking up the sport that he gives her an ultimatum, asking her to choose between boxing and him. Saddened by her father’s ultimatum, she chooses boxing.
Mary Kom now starts preparing for the next competition and wins that too. The coach is very impressed with her and is confident, she can be the best in the world. Indeed, Mary Kom becomes the world boxing champion and, by now, her father has also forgiven her.
Onler (Darshan Kumaar), an admirer of Mary Kom and himself an accomplished football player, proposes to Mary Kom. She accepts his marriage proposal but her coach is absolutely disgusted with Mary’s move to get married as he is sure, she would never be able to pursue boxing after marriage. However, Onler has promised Mary that he’ll let her continue boxing.
Soon, Mary and Onler become proud parents of twin boys. Days pass and Mary gets busy in household chores and in looking after her kids. Then, one day, she decides to take up boxing again. Her husband, Onler, is her pillar of strength and prods her on to pursue her passion, offering to look after the children.
Mary Kom trains again but is the comeback easy? She faces defeat in a boxing match but she accuses the jury of favoritism as she feels, she deserved to win. Mary is suspended for her bad behaviour. She is forced to apologise. Now, Mary goes to her erstwhile coach for further training. Does the coach agree to train her again despite the fact that she had disobeyed him when he had asked her to not get married?
Mary Kom has to face a lot of hardships before she reaches the finals of the world boxing championship. But her biggest problem is yet to come! What is it?
Is Mary Kom able to participate in the world championship? Is she, as her coach in Manipur always told her, able to focus?
Saiwyn Quadras has penned a story and screenplay, based on Mary Kom’s life, with so much feeling that the film turns out to be an exhilarating human drama. The first half has some light moments and a fair deal of drama too. The Manipur locations, the local language, costumes, the boxing training and the boxing championships – they all entertain the audience amply.
Post-interval, Saiwyn Quadras’ screenplay becomes more emotional as the family drama of Mary Kom’s parents’ home is replaced by the family drama of her own home with husband and kids. The humiliation Mary has to face before the Federation’s official, Sharma (Shakti Singh), is so effective that the audience feels hatred towards him. The same official’s taunts and barbs for the Indian participants, including Mary Kom and the others, at the world championship after Mary’s comeback, creates such a disturbing impact on the viewers that they would start clapping when Mary Kom revolts. In fact, there would be a thunderous round of applause in the auditorium when Mary Kom’s colleagues come out openly in her support and actually warn the official. From this scene onwards, the film is outstanding and will evoke claps and whistles. The entire climax is so nail-biting and emotional that it would be difficult for many to control their tears. There would be whistling and clapping and tears of joy at a couple of places in the climax too. The inter-cutting of the boxing match with another sequence in the climax is fantastic.
All in all, Saiwyn Quadras has penned a screenplay which is fabulous. Karan Singh Rathore and Ramendra Vasishth have written very realistic dialogues which touch the heart.
Priyanka Chopra lives the character of Mary Kom and proves that she was born to play the role. She has put in tremendous effort to essay the role and all the hard work seems to be worthwhile because she shines with a mind-blowing performance which is absolutely award-worthy. She scores as a boxer, daughter, wife, mother and even as the daring student. Her special efforts to get the language right and her costumes, look, makeup – they all add up to make this one of her most memorable performances. Darshan Kumaar makes a truly impressive debut, remaining secondary to the principal character played by Priyanka, as required by the script. Not once does he go overboard or try to overpower the main protagonist. Sunil Thapa is marvellous as Mary Kom’s coach. He conveys his emotions of hope, despair, fear, frustration, anger at different times, all so wonderfully. Shishir Sharma also leaves an indelible mark as Mary’s new coach. Robin Das is supremely natural as Mary’s father. Shakti Singh does an excellent job as the Federation’s evil official. Rajni Basumatary (as Mary’s mother) and Kenny Basumatary (as Onler’s friend, Jimmy) lend fabulous support. Ritika Murthy (as the journalist at Mary’s home), Raghav Tiwari (as Mangi), Binud Kumbang (as Lalboi), Pabitra Rabha Jalah (as Asong), Ramendra Vasishth and Rajesh Nigam (both as the Federation official’s assistants), Deepak Kumar Singh (as Alberto), Bijou Thaangjam (as Naobi), Rajesh Khatri (as the fight official), Deepak Bhandarkar, Saiwyn Quadras, Umber Jafri, Deepak Tokas and Garry (all five as commentators), Poonam Ingram (as the pediatrician), baby Mridul Satam (as young Mangte Chungne Zang), Daksha Sharma (as the doctor at the maternity hospital), Kedar Sharma (as the government officer), Lhanze (as the girl in the bus), Kawaljeet (as the girl’s father in the bus), master Amit and master Akhil (as Mary Kom’s children) and the others are all more than adequate. A word here about the casting (by Shruti Mahajan and Parag Mehta). The actors, cast in the various roles, seem so perfect that one can’t help but praise the casting. Although almost all the actors are unknown faces, the film still holds the audience’s attention and fancy as much for the scripting and making as for their acting.
Omung Kumar’s direction deserves distinction marks, with credit also due to creative director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Omung’s mature handling of the drama belies the fact that this is his maiden attempt at direction. He needs to be lauded for extracting great work out of his actors and in recreating the perfect ambience. Shashi-Shivam’s music is not outstanding or very popular but the songs blend well with the film. ‘Ziddi dil’, ‘Salaam India’ and ‘Sukoon mila’ are melodious and uplifting songs. Prashant Ingole and Sandeep Singh’s lyrics are truly appropriate. Rohit Kulkarni has done a marvellous job of the background music. His extraordinary score increases the impact of the dramatic scenes manifold. Parvez Shaikh’s action and Rob Miller’s boxing choreography are superb. Keiko Nakahara needs to be lauded for his lovely cinematography. Vanita Omung Kumar’s sets and production designing are unobtrusive and very realistic. Rajat Tangri and Isha Mantri deserve special mention for their costume designing. Rajesh G. Pandey and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s editing is superb. The opening sequence, showing two different time-periods, is so seamlessly done that one can’t help marvel at the editor’s job. Similarly, the climax sequence, oscillating between two different places, is brilliantly edited.
On the whole, Mary Kom is a box-office champion. It may have started slow but fantastic word of mouth will see collections soaring and the film proving to be a hit at the box-office. Tax-exemption in Maharashtra and Rajasthan will help its business in these states. Other state governments should follow suit and grant tax-exemption to the deserving film.