Mumbai — The delay was abominable. For an invite at 8:30 p.m., the event began after 10 at the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton Aug. 13 — nevertheless, the music of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Mary Kom” was launched amidst much fanfare. The red carpet area was decorated with boxing-gloves hanging from the ceiling, the entrance wall displayed 18 of the 20 medals won by MC Mary Kom, and the stage was set up in part like a boxing ring.
Though hosted by Priyanka Chopra, who plays the title role in the film, the highlight of the evening was the presence of the real MC Mary Kom and husband Onler, her pillar of support. In the spirit of the film’s song “Jo Chahta Hai Wohi Kiya, Apni Hi Sharton Pe Yeh Hai Jiya, Dil Yeh Ziddi Hai,” the evening saw awards given to those real-life achievers who had triumphed in various fields among seemingly impossible odds, like a polio-stricken girl who fulfilled her dad’s dream of becoming a doctor, and a survivor of an acid attack.
The event was co-hosted by the film’s writer-director Omung Kumar, who was present with his wife Vanita. Darshan Kumaar, who plays Onler on-screen, new composers Shashi Suman and Shivamm and the key supporting artists of the film were also present, including Sunil Thapa, a famous veteran actor from the East who plays her coach.
Producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali preferred to keep a low profile and came on stage only when called. Ajit Andhare of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures was also present, as was Akshay Puri of Zee Music.
Andhare stated, “VMP identifies with Mary’s ‘Ziddi Dil’ spirit. We strive to live by it every day in our quest to produce content-led cinema. This film is the perfect testimony to this very sprit that we are celebrating today.”
Siddharth Shriram, special adviser, Usha International Ltd., which sponsored the event, said, “Usha is happy to be associated with this event as the theme ‘Against all Odds’ merges well with our company’s belief of financially empowering women from marginalized sections of the society.”
The music of the film was launched by Kom and Bhansali; and Chopra even sang the mukhda of “Chaoro,” her song in the film.
“Like a lot of Olympic players in India, I wasn’t recognized for my achievements. Thanks to Sanjay-sir, Omung and Priyanka, I am now as famous as them. When Omung Kumar approached me with the thought of making a film based on my life, my first thought was that he was mad,” laughed the athlete, whose voice, however, choked with emotion as she recalled the sequences when she watched the film. She also stated that Chopra was the best actress to have done her role.
Kom also quipped that her husband Onler, who pledged support on stage to his wife for all time, had never said the magic words “I love you” ever, despite their having three children, and he rectified the deficiency on stage to loud applause! Onler also complimented Darshan, his reel version, for looking so handsome “unlike me,” and invited him to Manipur where they reside. The film is scheduled for release Sept. 5.