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Dhoni Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Thursday, February 9, 2012 • Telugu ]
Dhoni Review
Prakash Raj, Aakash, Radhika Apte, Nazar, Melkote, Hema, Ananth, Murali Sharma, Kasthuri Suchi and Sriteja
Prakash Raj
Prakash Raj

Prakash Raj's Dhoni is a whiff of fresh air in more sense than one.  The best part of this film is that it doesn't sound a bit cliched despite its lead character (Prakash Raj as a widower Subrahmanyam) lunging for the much-pressurised school children, probably because the multi-dimensional film shows lot of tact in interlacing humour and parental affection, coupled with the mundane travails of a struggling middle-class man, and, above all, making its point in plain language.  In the process, the film raises a banner of revolt against the idiocy of an education system that fails to bring out the latent talent in the child, that forever fails the 'dull' child, and that has nothing to offer but a one-size-fits-all syllabus.  The film seems to ask this fundamental question: Is it right to label a child as a dullard?  Please do not spoil a child's life by such dangerous characterizations, a frustrated Subbu pleads.  By touching upon the rampant 'disease' of labelling those children who can't get good marks as useless, worthless, etc., Dhoni succeeds to connect with us even better than a Tare Zameen Par.

Mahesh Manjrekar's honest story is full of slice-of-life flavour.  That said, it has also got an extraordinary element.  Subbu is the man-next-door who leads a nondescript life, but when he ends up in hard situations and a sense of guilt overtakes him, he decides to make for his folly and expose the tyranny of teachers, and parents and show up the follies of our outlook of the education system per se.  Well, he overnight turns a hero of the voiceless student and a conscience-keeper of a deleterious system crying for an urgent rehaul.

The film begins with Subbu, a father of two, put behind the bars.  "My life was different till yesterday", a visibly depressed Prakash Raj starts narrating his story.  Working in a government office and toiling to make two ends meet, he sells home-made pickles, takes hand loans.  He believes that a good education is the best inheritance a middle-class man like him can give his children.  While he wants his son to become an MBA professional, Karthik (Master Akash), a IX Standard child, has other plans.  Having a knack for cricket, he wants to play for India like his icon, Dhoni.  His difficulty in concentrating on class books leads him to a face-off with the school principal (Tanikella Bharani), who gives an ultimatum to Subbu.  Fed up with his son's craze for cricket, he virtually forbids Karthik from going to the playground and asks him to swot up on maths and physics.  Karthik tries his best but with his heart and soul wedded to cricket, can he make it in studies?  Consumed by his desperation to see his son pick up in studies, he hits Karthik hard against the table in a fit of a pique.  This results in an unfortunate accident, and the budding cricketer slips into a state of coma.

A guilt-stricken Subbu accidentally awakens to the cricketing brilliance of his child.  After a soul-search, a litany of hard questions bustle his mind.  What does Subbu do to stir everybody of them who are responsible for the stunting of the child's mind into thinking of mending their ways and reforming a mediocre system?  Watch the film.

Had Dhoni been only about debate and fight, nobody would find it entertaining.  In telling the story from a parent's emotion, the director is not obsessive a bit.  He infuses the film with wit, bringing to fore the sarcasm and humour of socialist-era films.  The new middle-class man is still fighting to keep the wolf from the door, thanks to the money spent on rituals, scorching inflation and the expensive education.  Dialogues like these are sure to evoke laughter: Our people will celebrate thread-ceremony for a girl child in order to corner gifts from relatives; the nation is reeling under the influence of 5G (Astrolo'G' and other Gs); in bargaining for vegetable prices, you (Subbu) are worse than a woman; our country is surrounded by salt on three sides, but the burden of debt is weighing it from all sides (Gollapudi, a social activist says).  If lines like these give relief, the music and background score (Maestro Illayaraja) is refreshing.  The situations of the two songs in first half (the Prabhu Deva number and the song after the daughter attains puberty) are among the most brilliant moments of the film.  There are other winsome moments like these: talking about how Karthik addresses him as 'annayya', the school peon appreciates Subbu for the son's culture; Subbu wonders how people so easily hurt others without knowing anything about the other person's circumstances.

Talking about performances, Prakash Raj gives his best shot.  He brings a quality of homely demeanour to the character, making us feel that only he could have done it.  It is wondrous that this middle-aged actor portrays a range of emotions with panache, never giving us a moment to be conscious that Dhoni is his one-man showx.  Of course, becoming his character is not new to him.  Master Akash gets into the skin of a sportsperson and a harassed child quite brilliantly.  Others (Radhika Apte, the daughter, Gani bhai, Nassar, Brahmanandam) do justice to their roles.

Kudos to Raj for bringing a film that rests its ideology on that aphorism, 'It takes a village to grow a child', that puts the blame for the child's illiteracy squarely on the elders, and that asks them to stamp out the malady of self-fulfilling prophecy, which could adversely affect the psychology of a child.  Why can't we ban the words like 'moddu', 'chaduvu rani vedava', from our discourse?

Rating: 0 / 5.0

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