Priyanka Chopra packs a solid punch in her most talked about movie Mary Kom that released on September 5. Here’s our Mary Kom movie review.Barring the kind of synthetic drama it features in the climax, debutant director Omung Kumar’s Mary Kom is a decent film.

In a rather heart-wrenching moment in Mary Kom, when Priyanka Chopra’s character, arguably India’s most celebrated boxer, looks at an old newspaper, featuring the glory of the star (herself), soaked with her own baby’s pee, your heart goes out to the champion. Debutant director Omung Kumar places this scene deftly to portray the way in which the world champions are treated (read: conveniently neglected) in our country.

Sidelined from the action that unfolds in the ring, Mary, at that precise moment in the movie, not a rookie boxer anymore-two time world champion, to be exact-has no idea as in how to make a living once she decides to move beyond the ring, for a while. “How do I find a job?” roars another quote of hers in the form of a headline, questioning the negligence and lethargy on the part of the system as well as on those who occupy  powerful positions in the administration, failing spectacularly to give our champions as little as a decent job and a normal life spent with dignity.

Clearly, Mary Kom is not just about delivering punches to bleed the opponents. It is about the odds the iron lady challenges despite proving her mettle twice over to stay in the reckoning, to reinforce her grit and-above all, else-to save herself from the ignominy that one draws upon oneself inadvertently for being a forgotten sporting hero.

Generally, movies revolving around sports resort to the formulaic ‘emergence of an underdog’ theme. Mary Kom doesn’t travel the beaten path. Kumar shows how true champs get going even when the going gets extremely tough. He shows his protagonist as a born fighter, but then he escalates the drama to showcase how the fierce fighter converts herself into a perpetual winner by facing the odds that are stacked against her. In the process, the filmmaker places a couple products (Iodex and Sugar Free!) and patriotic sentiments. While the former act, we understand, is essential, the latter only exaggerates the tone of the movie.

Boxing has an interesting language. The boxing lexicon is so replete with vividly imagistic parlance that many of its jargon and expressions have found their way into our daily conversations. From blows to punches to clinches – Priyanka Chopra, in and as Mary Kom, has lived all those combative expressions in the movie. Soaking with sweat and sinking deep into the skin of her character, PeeCee delivers one of the earnest, if not exactly one of the best, performances of her career. And that holds true not just when she is seen employing her boxing gloves to deadly effects, but even when she is off the ring. Priyanka doesn’t become Mary Kom slowly and surely.

In fact, she is Mary Kom,truly indisputably, in this production-her Manipuri twang, an impressive range of facial expressions coupled with the unmistakable freckles only reinstate the powerful portrayal.

And then there are lighter moments. Sample this: when Mary (PeeCee) hitches a ride at the dead of the night on Darshan Kumaar’s (K Onler’s) bike, for the very first time, the latter’s bike starts acting up right in the middle of a deserted road. When a visibly apologetic Onler tries to convince Mary that he has not stopped the bike on purpose, to take advantage of the situation as she might think, the boxing champ says nonchalantly, “Don’t worry, tum mere saath saphe (safe) hai”.

As for the performances, Priyanka breathes fire into the role very few actresses can pull off. Darshan Kumaar as Mary’s deeply supportive and unconditionally loving husband K Onler has done a commendable job. He takes a backseat with his subtle and nuanced performance to allow Priyanka’s character to flourish at the center-stage, thereby avoiding the clash of two equally powerful performances-which is, the most basic need of the plot. Sunil Thapa who portrays Mary’s coach has got the right mix of aggression, domination and empathy.

Our verdict: Mary Kom may not be the most brilliantly designed movie but it has its heart at the right place. It may not entertain you in the most exciting or thrilling way, but the earnest performances from the actors and  the sincerity shown by director Omung Kumar with his craft of direction and storytelling definitely calls for a deserving round of applause.

Our Ratings: 3.5 stars