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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Not so Magnificent Mary

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom came into the limelight of the Indian media after she won her fifth World Amateur Boxing Championship; prior to that India was ignorant of her existence. India then went back in time to see for themselves who Mary Kom was. And what they saw they liked. They saw an opportunity to exploit the success that this lone figure in the female boxing field has achieved, having been betrothed with the title ‘Magnificent Mary’. The exploitation was complete when it was announced after her bronze win at the London Olympics in 2012, that Bollywood is eager to tell her story to the larger audience. What Bollywood calls storytelling, I call exploitation. At least Bhag Milkha Bhag was made when Milkha Singh had retired; Mary Kom is still pretty much in the business of boxing and preparing for the upcoming Rio Olympics in 2016. I don’t see the point at all. 

Mary Kom is a poorly researched, poorly directed movie. It hardly bears any resemblance to her early life. Her parents were share croppers, it was true but life was not that harsh as it was portrayed in the film. Also, she had tremendous interest in athletics, before she decided to focus single mindedly on boxing. There is also no account of her being a hot head and picking up fights at random with guys. If you are making a ‘biopic’ please get the facts right, Omung Kumar!

Priyanka Chopra is the only good thing about the movie. Her rippling biceps definitely shows the amount of hard work she has put in to get into the shoes of this famed boxer. Apart from the physical side to the role, she also had to play a mother to twins, whom she leaves behind to get back in the ring. I have no complains about her portrayal. There were very authentic moments, we could see the doubts creeping in when she has to choose to leave behind her infant sons and go back to train. 

And now the most important part of the movie, which I detested to the core was Priyanka Chopra’s diction. But before that let me venture out and appreciate the efforts of Kumar, who tried to ruffle the feathers of the India Boxing Federation by commenting on how things run and what hurdles and hoops athletes have to jump through just so they can represent their country.  The incident may or may not be true in Mary Kom’s life, but we can be sure that incidents like these do happen – unwanted sexual advances, threatening to pull athletes out if they don’t comply, humiliating them, making use of their priviledges. Okay, back to the part that thoroughly irritated me was the diction of the titular character. When Mary is forced to read out the apology letter in front of an audience, she says ‘phedarasion’.  Yes, I tried to phonetically match her pronunciation. What makes the script writer think that Priyanka should not pronounce it as it is pronounced – federation. Whatever might the real Mary’s diction be, you cannot force it on a character onscreen. This is racism! And this is where and how it starts. Before taking shape into something that we can’t control. Also talk about poor makeup! Priyanka’s fake painted freckles were such an eye sore!

We need more than the petty and cheap histrionics and theatrics that Kumar had made use of to tell the story of Magnificent Mary!

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