How Powerful A Punch Does Priyanka Chopra Pack As Mary Kom?

Posted on July 28, 2014 in Culture-Vulture

By Deepika Singhania:

She knows exactly what she wants and the rest of the world may try as hard as they want to, she’ll do anything to stay inside the ring. She doesn’t let society and stereotypes get to her. This is what we get from the two and a half minutes of the ‘Mary Kom’ movie trailer. Packed with powerful dialogues like this one – “Kabhi kisi ko ithna bhi math darao, ki dar hi khatham ho jaye” (Don’t scare someone to such an extent, that they forget what fear is), the trailer goes all out for girl power!

Produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali with Priyanka Chopra portraying the five time champion boxer, the trailer explores the obstacles a woman athlete faces when she tries to step into the ‘male space’. In the trailer, Mary Kom (Chopra) has to listen to her father chide her about how boxing is ‘not for girls’ when he finds that his daughter is walking around with wrestling gloves. He goes to the extent of burning them to prove his point. And like that wasn’t enough, boys pass snide remarks and call her Mohammad Ali. The difficult phase in her career when she lost all hope of a comeback is also well delineated when she says, “India boxer Mary Kom ko bhool gaya hai, kya Mary Kom bhi boxing bhool gaya hai?”. But Mary Kom overcomes all of that after which we get to see her struggle and knock out all the big bad boys, thanks to all the needed encouragement flooding in from her ‘Coach Sir’ (Sunil Thapa) and the husband.

We get a brief glimpse of how India views its women athletes. People question if she can be a good mother and an athlete at the same time. She’s just a farmer’s daughter after all; and becoming a world champion isn’t a joke. But does she prove their doubts to be wrong and pointless? Yes, absolutely. She is an all in one package — struggling, fighting, cooking, flirting; you just name it.

But even all the girl power does not do justice to the story. You ask why? Well, for one, how does Priyanka Chopra fit the role to play an athlete from the neglected North East India? She doesn’t look anything close to a Manipuri by a very long shot. She might know how to throw powerful punches physically and verbally, but there are a few shortcomings, yes. The dissimilarities are just too pronounced and wiping away the real Mary Kom’s appearance is almost next to impossible. And the fact that the other actors that are in the film are from the North East is just very disconcerting. Even her Manipuri accent comes and goes. The ‘aata hai’ and ‘jaata hai’ accent just doesn’t seem convincing enough. So, why not choose someone from Manipur to play the role? Is it just to score another blockbuster or was it to reach out to a larger audience? I’m not so sure.

Despite all the things that the film has got wrong, in an industry where movies rarely look at women in roles beyond being a damsel in distress, this movie will be a welcome change. She might not have the Manipuri features to pull off the role, but she does put her entire soul into the character; all the hard work is visible in the trailer. After Chopra’s spectacular performance in Barfi, this is something that fans will be looking forward to watching. It’s the true story of a champion. Some girl power mixed with a bit of Indian masala and oodles of energy, what more could you want?