One champion represents another

Mary Kom director Omung Kumar says Priyanka Chopra has added commercial value to the film.

Ians August 15, 2014

MUMBAI: Omung Kumar, who is making his directorial debut with Mary Kom, which stars Priyanka Chopra as Olympic bronze medalist boxer MC Mary Kom, says the National Award-winning actor will add “commercial value” to the film.

“This film should work commercially as well. Had I cast any newcomer for it, people would have ignored the posters,” said Kumar. The film’s trailer shows Priyanka in a state of unconditional surrender as the Olympian boxer. The Manipuri accent is not overdone and neither are those pugilistic postures where she boxes like an untamed cat in the ring with her immediate adversaries and other far less definable enemies outside the boxing ring.

“People are talking about the poster and the trailer, which means people like it and it’s all thanks to Priyanka. Priyanka will add commercial value to Mary Kom,” he added. While there were reports that the director and the film’s co-producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali are not on talking terms because of creative differences, Omung said, “These are all rumours. There is absolutely no issue between both of us.”

The only doubt raised by the trailer is that Priyanka does not physically resemble the real Mary Kom. Responding to the audience’s concern, Bhansali earlier said he agreed that Priyanka doesn’t resemble the Olympic bronze medallist boxer, but that she captured the star athlete’s “soul” for the role. “I don’t think the physical resemblance is as important as capturing the soul of the person that the actor is portraying.”

He further said, “How much did Robert Downey Jr look like Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin? Did Meryl Steep resemble Nora Ephron in Heartburn? Did Robert De Niro actually look like Al Capone in the The Untouchables or Van Kilmer like Jim Morrison in The Doors? No.”

Bhansali shared how thrilled he is to filming the life of the star. “We wanted to tell Mary Kom’s story. Her life has everything — drama, passion, valour, warmth and humour. Her story was waiting to be told on screen. I am honoured that we are doing it,” he said.

“This is already a historic film. Never earlier has a world champion in one arena (Priyanka Miss World 2000) portrayed world championship (five times world champion) in another arena on screen,” said Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

The movie is releasing on September 5. 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2014.

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