First-time director Omung Kumar, who has done many things in films before, gets this act right too as he frequently succeeds in tugging at our heartstrings and brings to the screen a reel Mary Kom (played by Priyanka Chopra), when the real one is still young, active and ambitious. Yes, the end is abrupt and the film even manages to have a rendition of the national anthem just before, but the overall feat is truly inspiring.

What is specifically gratifying is that the film and its protagonist make a strong case for true-blue gender equality rather than feminism, best depicted by a line stated by Mary to her future husband, Onler (Darshan Kumaar), when they ride home together on their first meeting. The comments on politics in sports and how India can do better without the “babu” culture are indeed hard-hitting.

In a biopic like this, it is indeed a tough call to sift what should and should not be shown, dramatized or toned down. Though we are not familiar with the details of the protagonist’s life, we assume that Omung and his screenplay writer Saiwyn Quadras have indeed given great thought to this aspect and come up with a graphic study of what made Mary what she is, and have thus also given a perspective to steadfast supporter Onler. The actors playing her parents, Rajni Basumatary and Bijou Thaangjam, are simply brilliant, and Darshan is extremely convincing as Mary’s anchor. Sunil Thapa astounding as her coach — here is an actor who speaks volumes with just his expressive eyes.

The complete on-screen champion is obviously Priyanka Chopra, whose performance cannot be either faulted or even described suitably due to its degree of superlativeness. As should be the case with a biopic, that too of an ace sportsperson, she dwarfs everyone as her always-expressive eyes, voice and body coalesce into an emotional maelstrom.

Special scoring points are the dialogues (Karan and Ramendra), cinematography (Keiko Nakahara), production design (Vanita Omung Kumar) and background music (Rohit Kulkarni). The songs are by and large good, but we wish the lyrics had been less stereotypically contemporary and more pithy.

But that's a small complaint in a superior product like this, in which cinema and real life, so to speak, come together in a wholesome, entertaining and — as I said at the beginning — an elevating package.

Mary Kom, in a nutshell, is a movie with muscle that delivers a knockout punch.

Rating: ****1/2

SLB Films and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures present

Mary Kom

Produced by: SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI

Directed by: OMUNG KUMAR

Written by: SAIWYN QUADRAS, KARAN SINGH RATHORE & RAMENDRA VASHISHTH

Music: SHASHI-SUMAN & SHIVAMM

Starring: PRIYANKA CHOPRA, DARSHAN KUMAAR, RAJNI BASUMATARY, LINN LAISSHRAM, MINAKKSHI KALITAA, SUNIL THAPA, SHISHIR SHARMA, BIJOU THAANGJAM & others

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