A Manipur rice farmer's daughter charts her own success story as a five-time world amateur boxing champion. She also does India proud when she bags the bronze in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
When adapted for the big screen, a biopic has to tread its own path. Debutant director Omung Kumar's Mary Kom is based on the incidents in the life of MC Mary Kom (Priyanka Chopra), India's most high-profile female pugilist between the years 1991-2007. The film has been shot for the better part in Imphal, Manipur, where the sportswoman was bred. Born in a humble home in Kangathei, Mary was only a teenager when she decided to pursue boxing, despite inviting her father's ire.
Literally starting with street brawls, Magnificent Mary, as she is nicknamed, blazes her path from ignominy to fame under the tutelage of her coach M. Narjit Singh (Sunil Thapa). But wait, she also chooses to make way for matters of the heart, marriage and kids before coming back to winning global recognition again in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The filmmaker has captured her indefatigable spirit beautifully. He has also thrown light on the administration's apathy towards sports and every time a film mirrors the red-tapism involved in the arena, you want to pick up the baton!
Mary Kom is Bollywood's answer to the Oscar-winner Million Dollar Baby (2004), where Hilary Swank plays an amateur boxing champ trained by Clint Eastwood. But the similarities are only because the protagonists in both films are female boxers. The intention is definitely not to ape.
One star in the rating is definitely reserved for Priyanka. She may not have transcended the physical attributes of the diminutive Mary in the actual sense (except adding a few obvious freckles to her face and slightly drooping eyelids), but she has brought the boxer to life convincingly enough, leaving you rooting for her, long after the end credits roll.
Omung has a tight check on the proceedings post-intermission. The emotional tracks between the boxer and her father (Robin Das), and Mary and her husband Onler (Darshan Kumar), leave you misty-eyed.
But the main reason why Mary Kom appeals is because it doesn't just give you a ringside view of boxing; it leaves you rooting for our sportsmen who have put India on the world map.