MS Dhoni's untold story: How Captain Cool picked up his 'helicopter' shot, and more

Austin Coutinho

Sep 30, 2016 10:33:04 IST

Editor's note: If 2016 is the year of cricketer biopics, then MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is the one that promises to be the biggest of them all. And we mean that quite literally. The Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer will open on no fewer than 4,500 screens in India, a bigger number than even Sultan and Kabali, which had 4,000 screens each. The most exciting aspect of the film, however, is that it promises to showcase the lesser known side of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's Captain Cool. In this five-part series, we look at some of the quirkier chapters from Dhoni's life.

Read parts one and two here.

 MS Dhonis untold story: How Captain Cool picked up his helicopter shot, and more

Ms Dhoni; Sushant Singh Rajput in a still from the biopic

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s most famous invention was the ‘helicopter-shot’. It is said that his childhood friend, and school and club teammate, Santosh Lal was the master of that stroke and passed it on to Mahi. Ironically, it was a ‘helicopter’ that let them down a couple of years ago.

Santosh Lal had acute pancreatitis and needed urgent medical care. Mahi, who was at that time on the tour of the Caribbean Isles with the Indian team, was informed of his friend’s condition by his family members. He therefore arranged for an air-ambulance to transport Santosh Lal to a private hospital in Delhi. However, bad weather forced the helicopter to land at Varanasi, en route to Delhi and by the time Lal received expert attention, it was too late.

Dhoni, when informed of the demise of his childhood friend, was crestfallen.

***

Dhoni is a small town boy who made it big through hard work, determination and a tremendous amount of self-confidence. Today, he is one of the richest sportsmen in the world. But riches haven’t spoilt him and his humility is something that his fans and followers admire in him.

There is this story of a Pakistani female cricket fan who approached a Pakistani cricketer for an autograph during dinner. The player was so incensed that he scolded her for disturbing him when he was eating. Dhoni, who was within earshot, felt the girl's disappointment and asked her for her autograph book and signed it. “Dhoni was so friendly,” she said. “I became an instant fan of the Indian cricketer”.

Illustration © Austin Coutinho

Illustration © Austin Coutinho

Star prerogatives and fame go together. But not for Dhoni, who has endorsed over thirty products and can afford all the luxuries money can buy. When the Indian team travels, he likes to be just one of the boys. His AC train tickets and business-class upgrades are passed on to teammates, especially the big fast bowlers who need more leg-room.

The door of his skipper’s suite, during a match, is open for any of his teammates to walk in whenever they feel like. He has no misgivings about being the skipper and being treated in a special way.

Arun Pandey, Dhoni’s closest friend and now manager, says that he is hardly bothered about material things. The only things he is possessive about are his bikes and his dogs.

On a tour of Australia once, Dhoni visited the house in which commentator Harsha Bhogle stayed at Adelaide. At lunchtime, Dhoni is said to have helped with the warming up of the chappatis and the food. After a good meal, he is said to have walked to the kitchen sink and washed his own plate, and even offered to wash those used by Bhogle and a couple of other friends. That’s just how grounded he is!

***

In Ranchi, Dhoni was known for hitting big sixes. And it didn’t matter whether the match was played with a tennis ball or a cricket ball. One of his fans and benefactor was a local sports shop owner named Paramjit Singh, who would lend him branded bats and kit. “Dhoni is now unapproachable for us,” he says. “If he comes to my shop, he is surrounded by thousands of fans. He can no longer sit and have chaat and samosas here as he used to when he was very young.”

***

In one inter-school final, Dhoni is said to have scored a double hundred and his partner’s score was just 130. At the end of the innings, his partner is said to have tossed his bat and gloves aside in the tent and said, “Saala, last ball pe run leta hai. Kitna selfish hai!” Perhaps that’s the killer instinct one develops at the junior level to become a legend!

More from Dhoni's life, tomorrow. 

Austin Coutinho — writer, cartoonist and author — has coached many state level cricketers and footballers. He introduced mental toughness training to cricket and football more than a decade ago.

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Updated Date: Sep 30, 2016 10:33:04 IST