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Wednesday , April 24 2019

Biopic shows cricketer’s heartbreak – ‘Untold Story’ charts rise of India’s Dhoni

In this photograph taken on Aug 11, 2016, Indian Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput (right), and Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni pose during the trailer launch in Mumbai of the upcoming biographical film ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ directed by Neeraj Pandey. (AFP)
In this photograph taken on Aug 11, 2016, Indian Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput (right), and Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni pose during the trailer launch in Mumbai of the upcoming biographical film ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ directed by Neeraj Pandey. (AFP)

MUMBAI, Sept 28, (Agencies): A Bollywood biopic of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is to bring a tragic episode in the Indian cricket hero’s life to movie screens — the death of his first love. “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story”, due for release on Sept 30, charts the rise of India’s limited-overs captain from boy to train ticket collector to World Cup glory.

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who plays Dhoni, told AFP in a video interview that filming scenes that dealt with the death of the cricketer’s former girlfriend had been heart-rending. “It was very difficult because, after we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” said the 30-year-old.

In 2002 Dhoni was in his early 20s and trying to break into India’s national team when his girlfriend, Priyanka Jha, was killed in a road accident, according to Indian media reports. A music video released by producers as a teaser shows Dhoni’s character romancing his sweetheart, played in the movie by Disha Patani, just before her death.

Rajput said that it was a particularly moving scene to film. “It was just before I lose her… I was emotional,” explained Rajput. The film, directed by Neeraj Pandey, includes scenes from Dhoni’s childhood when football was his passion as well as his years as a young ticket collector. It culminates with his heroics at the 2011 final.

Rajput, who describes himself as an “ardent” cricket fan, said his preparations for playing an icon had been “exhaustive”. “People already know the way he talks, walks, plays his cricket so I realised very early that it was a possibility that I could act well in the film but at the same time not be very convincing,” said Rajput.

The Hindi actor watched “hours and hours” of videos of Dhoni and met the star several times to study his mannerisms. “There was a certain level of subconscious imitation and it happened from completely immersing myself in him, either thinking about him or looking at him or behaving like him,” said Rajput.

Dhoni told a promotional event in New York that he hadn’t enjoyed relaying elements of his life. “What was most difficult for me was to narrate the story and all of that because I am somebody who lives in the present,” he said, according to footage broadcast by NDTV news.

Rajput says he has left no stone unturned in ensuring the cricket scenes would be convincing, even mastering Dhoni’s trademark “helicopter shot”. “We would carefully analyse it and fix the bowling machine into one spot and then we would play the same shot at least 200, 300 times a day for a week to a point that it came naturally,” he said.

The 35-year-old Dhoni, nicknamed “Captain Cool”, is idolised for leading India to victory over Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final. The skipper hit an unbeaten 91 off 79 balls, including a match-winning six. Rajput said the memory of Dhoni’s exploits at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium gave him “goosebumps”. But what did the famously taciturn Dhoni think of the film’s final cut? “He was very moved by it but he didn’t say anything. He kept quiet for 15 minutes, smiled and then left,” said Rajput.


MADRID: Oscar-winning Spanish actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem will begin shooting a movie about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar next month, the married couple’s first film together since 2008.

“Escobar”, a Spanish-Bulgarian joint project to be filmed in Colombia, will go into production on Oct 24 with Bardem playing Escobar and Cruz playing his lover, journalist Virginia Vallejo, producers said Tuesday in a statement.

“This is not a biopic, not just the story of a tough gangster. This is the story of the man who changed the history of crime in the last decades of the 20th century,” the film’s producer, Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga, said in the statement.

Husband and wife off screen, the last time the two appeared together in a movie was in the 2008 Woody Allen romantic comedy “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”. Cruz won a supporting-actress Oscar for her role. Bardem won a supporting-actor Oscar for the 2007 crime thriller “No Country for Old Men”.

“Escobar” will be directed by Spain’s Fernando Leon de Aranoa whose credits include the 2002 film “Mondays in the Sun” also starring Bardem, for which both got Spain’s Oscar-equivalent Goya for best director and best actor.

Escobar was the boss of one of the world’s most powerful criminal organisations and Colombia’s most-wanted fugitive.

The Colombian farmer’s son who became the world’s seventh-richest man with his ruthless dominance of the global cocaine trade was hunted for years before police killed him in his hometown of Medellin in 1993.

Over the years, thousands of people were killed in violence unleashed by his Medellin cartel. He has recently inspired several films and series including “Narcos,” a hit on Netflix which is in its second season.

LOS ANGELES: The Bangladesh Federation of Film Societies has chosen Tauquir Ahmed’s “The Unnamed” (“Oggatonama”) as the country’s submission to the Academy’s foreign language category.

The film looks at the racket surrounding Bangladeshi expatriate laborers around the world and how often identities are exchanged in order to go abroad in pursuit of dollar dreams.

Stars include Shahiduzzaman Selim, Mosharraf Karim (who starred in 2016 entry “Jalal’s Story” and in 2010 entry “Third Person Singular Number”,) Fazlur Rahman Babu, Nipun Akhter, and Abul Hayat.

Impress Telefilm, one of the Bangladesh entertainment industry’s leading players, produced.

“The Unnamed” has had some festival play and won best director and screenplay at the Goddess on the Throne Film Festival, Kosovo, best director at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival and a jury mention at the Gulf of Naples Independent Film Festival.

Bangladesh has been submitting to the category since 2002 and is yet to secure a nomination. Nominees will be announced on Jan. 24, 2017.

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