Wrote this a few days ago. Couldn't publish in time. But der aaye, durust aaye!
Dear Mary Kom,
I just came back from a movie hall after watching the eponymous biopic based on your life. And it was moving. So moving that it has made me write this letter. The letter is going to be a really long one. Please do get a bucket of popcorn and some soda before you start reading this.
First things first. You are a wonderful wonderful person Mary. You are a true achiever and a true fighter. I love your never-say-die attitude. I love the way you are totally committed to your sport. I love the way you have been an exemplary ambassador for the sport of boxing. Thank you so much for bringing so much glory to India. I am so proud that you and I are compatriots. I sincerely wish I could do half the things that you've done. You deserve all the awards and medals and appreciation and flowers and other things that we have bestowed upon you. And I sincerely believe that you deserve a lot more. Apologies that it took a movie to get me (and probably other Indians) to notice your contribution to our country.
So, if this letter gets rude, out of place, please ignore it as a rant of a jobless old man.
I do not mean any disrespect to you, but Mary, you've made a mistake. A big big mistake. You allowed Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Omung Kumar (I loved Omung Kumar when I was a kid when he did shows like Ek Minute etc.) to make the movie on your life. And you allowed Priyanka Chopra (who I know has been put on earth to marry me someday) to play the lead. The three of them, individually, are great (like I said). Probably as accomplished as you are. But the three of them together created a mess that is hard to digest. There are so many things wrong with the movie that I don't even know where to start.
Actually I know where to start. Research. If I were to make a sporting movie and a boxing movie at that, I would have done a LOT of research on it. No no, not on your life. That would be easy because I would merely need to sit with you and get dope on you (which I hope they did!) But research on sporting movies per se. I would want to know what kind of sporting movies have worked in the past. What are the few things that make a sports movie interesting. After all, its not a typical rom-com where the actors are running around trees and stealing pecks when no one's watching. I would've seen the classics like Angels in the Outfield, Finding Buck McHenry, even Mighty Ducks etc etc. And I would have seen the boxing movies like the Rocky series, Million Dollar Baby, Ali etc. I would even see Jerry Mcguire. And movies from India that have done well - Chak De India, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag etc.
And then, once I have done all this research, seen all these movies, I would goto the drawing board and start working on your movie. From what it seemed to me, the research bit was missing from your movie. Leave aside research, the script did not have the essential ingredients for a sports film. What could those ingredients be? I think it would be a long list but the key ones would be fast-paced story, action-packed fighting scenes, grandeur and strong characters (apart from you Mary) that inspire.
Mary, you are an accomplished boxer. Couldn't you consult the director on the boxing scenes atleast? The fight sequences were really really bad. They were so boring that I could've actually shown a clock ticking on the screen. I would've saved some money. Even the training bits were really sad. Look at Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. For whatever that movie was worth, it got the training bit correct. You can see the dude sweating while he was training. In your case, agreed you woke up early and you milked the cow and all that but that's your training? Really?
So anyhow let me talk about these characters. Lets start with your coach. Of course the coach is like the Guru. Whatever he says, is like a thing cast in stone. He has to be inspiring. Look at Micky. He made Rocky the fighter he was. Look at SRK in Chak De. Leave boxing and hockey. Look at a simple movie like Rockford. Nagesh Kukunoor is a PT teacher to kids and he is inspiring. Mary, your coach, to me did not look like someone who could inspire. Please please know that I am talking from the perspective of the movie. The actor, the lines, the action, demeanor of the coach is so so important for a sporting movie that you had to have a brilliant actor play that role. I don't understand why would you settle for someone who has not proven his mettle as an actor!
Then, your husband. Damn I hate him. He is too too good to be true. You cant imagine the plight of all other men in the country. When a woman sees your husband do all those sweet things for you, they'd start expecting their men to do the same. Thank God the movie flopped. Otherwise your husband would have been the reason for a few divorces for sure.
Lets talk about your father. His anger and exasperation is justified. He is a simple man and wants his daughter to do well. But Mary, in the movie, did you actually give approval to overt dramatization to that fight scene that is apparently shot in Turkey? Where you are down and out and your father sees you take a thrashing of your life and he then yells at a television to encourage you. And you, some 6000 KMs away get this burst of energy that helps you win. Mary, are you telling me (the gullible movie-goer) that telepathy works? I mean, it may. But this much dramatization? Are you sure? And no, it did not happen at just one place. Even the fight in the climax when your son is struggling with life and your come back. Really?
Then Mary, where did the entire thing about "you being discriminated in a bout because you are a Manipuri" come in from? Do you really think so? You really think we are that small? Some of us may be. But Indians at large? I was actually offended at that scene. Filmmakers have a responsibility and it sucks that someone would resort to communal tensions to make a story out of an incident. And please know that you are as Indian as I am. In fact, Mary, you are a notch better. Way better actually. Because you've brought glory to the country. I on the other hand have just ranted on this blog. Did you not realize that the management or the federation declared the other girl a winner because they hated your guts. Not because you are a Manipuri. Please Mary. I sincerely hope that you did not approve of that bit in the film.
There are so many more questions I have. But I guess time is not on my side. Over all, I think its a poorly written film. The direction and acting looked half-hearted as well. The fight scenes were pathetic. A film-student could have done a better job in my humble opinion.
Oh, and the film lacked grandeur. As an amateur film maker, it seemed to me that you guys cut corners while making the film. The sets were done poorly, space was sparse and props lacked detail, something that I did not expect from a team of Bhansali and Omung Kumar who have worked on magnum opuses like Black and Saawariya. I mean look at all other Sanjay Leela Bhansali films. The only thing that stands out in those films is the opulence, the grandness, the larger than life visual hooks. Your movie Mary, lacked all of it.
Some parts looked as if they were shot on a phone camera. May be they were indeed shot with a small camera. After all, cinematic creativity is something that I dont know nothing about as yet. You should've seen the sketches and you should've been a part of the PPM and other such meetings.
In the end, Mary, I think you ought to give your story to some other filmmaker who would probably do justice to your story and tell is better. You need to redeem yourself. The next generations just can not have this movie as the reference point when they think about the boxing legend from India - Mary Kom!
An Indian who is very proud of your achievements. And is disappointed with the film.
What could've been better?
Story, script and screenplay
What worked for me?
Your husband. Even the actor and his acting.
1 on 5.
Will I recommend it?
NO WAY. In caps.