Despite the constant furore that permanently shrouds him, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s innermost personality still remains an inquisitive question mark. From the exterior we witness a man with an unshakeably cool demeanour, a man to which no task is impossible. However, the interior consists of an ordinary being, with an extraordinary talent, who never forgot his roots. In The Dhoni Touch, Bharat Sundaresan deconstructs the iconic aura and defines the fundamental identity of MSD.
Lets deal with the elephant in the room first: there is already an acclaimed biopic that bares the contents on MSD’s life. So what’s the point in reading this? Early in the book, Sundaresan aptly described the book as his attempt at “unravelling the enigma that is Mahendra Singh Dhoni”.
It was clear from the outset that he did not want to simply inscribe a list of Dhoni’s major achievements, something that has already been achieved cinematically. Instead, he delivered a probing and insightful exploration on an inconceivable man. Sundaresan probes into the man himself, rather than the life he has lived, and moulds an enticing atmosphere of intrigue and curiosity. The book covers aspects of Dhoni that are not even mentioned in the biopic hence providing immense value to the reader.
There are 10 chapters in The Dhoni Touch; each is dedicated to extensively analysing as specific shade of Dhoni and decoding his distinctive mannerisms and characteristics. The book incorporates a delightful bunch of hand picked anecdotes which all have a valuable story to say. I especially admired the way the writer does not recite every happening in MSD’s life and rather selected the ones with great significance.
The book includes a variety of statements/interviews from people in all walks of life with one defining similarity: they are all close to Dhoni the person. From Sundaresan’s Ranchi adventure with Chittu (Dhoni’s childhood friend), to his interview with Colonel Shankar, all of the interviewees provide their opinion on their collective friend from their exclusive viewpoints. Each person is an essential piece to solve the unfathomable puzzle of MSD.
Among the chapters, I particularly savoured “The portrait of a cricketer as a young boy”; it was fascinating to track the derivations of Dhoni’s values and mannerisms. He is different as a cricketer but he was different in childhood as well:
He was a unique child. Always quiet. I never saw him doing kids’ stuff, playing pranks or being cranky or throwing tantrums. He never did any anything out of the blue. No mischief either. He was in own world mostly, almost too sorted to be a child”Dhoni’s friend Chittu in The Dhoni Touch
The chapter dives deep into the roots of MS Dhoni and engrosses the reader in a collection of gripping anecdotes narrated mostly by Chittu and coach Banerjee. It is crystal clear that Dhoni’s impeccable mental attributes were apparent from an early and that his mind was tailored to be successful in whatever set out to achieve. We’re just lucky that he chose cricket!
For those craving for an in-depth foray into MSD’s cricketing deeds, don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed. Sundaresan deconstructs the essence of his unconventional, yet efficient, captaincy style. He uncovers a variety of incidents that symbolised his extraordinary style. Sundaresan also perceptively analyses Dhoni’s home strewn wicket-keeping technique and deduces why it has set such high standards in the understated league of stumpings. I particularly loved the way that Sundaresan described him as “Pythagoras behind the stumps”; an innovative inventor who does things his own way.
When it comes to the tone of writing, Bharat Sundaresan hits the nail on the head. He writes amiably and directly yet manages to sculpt some fascinating passages which showed gargantuan proficiency in the field of Dhoni. He seemed genuinely fascinated by the prospect of interpreting the inner MSD and proved pivotal to the tone of the book; it seemed as if he was immersed in an investigation and that clue by clue, he was coming to a decisive conclusion. When reading it, it felt as if I was accompanying Sundaresan on the gradual journey myself, such is the captivating traits of the book.
In summary, The Dhoni Touch is an unputdownable book that never fails to enthral with it’s discerning style. It is a perfect read for those who are enthralled by MSD the breathtaking cricketer but craves to know what makes him who he is. Bharat Sundaresan has yet again proved his credentials as an accomplished writer by helicoptering this book for a gigantic six.