‘Dangal’ is in movie halls this weekend. The film has been in production for over three years and like most Aamir Khan
DangalA good family oriented film. Nice way to celebrate the new year.
‘Dangal’ is in movie halls this weekend. The film has been in production for over three years and like most Aamir Khan projects, has been under continuous speculation since the time of it’s inception. Right from the release of the poster to the release of the film itself, the marketing teams of Dangal have left no stones unturned, to make it the production of the year, despite the current looming cloud of demonetization. ‘Dangal’ has been directed and written by Nitesh Tiwari and has been produced by Disney. The storyline is based on the real life struggles and triumphs of Mahavir Singh Phogat, and his two illustrious daughters, Geeta and Babita Phogat, all three being National Wrestling Champions.
It’s a family-sports-drama. Over the years, this genre has begun taking pace in Bollywood and has been met largely with success. The question remains however, ‘is Dangal more than your average sports drama’? Did it bowl us over? Read on:
First, let’s meet the actors:
Aamir ‘perfectionist’ Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat
Sakshi Tanwar as Daya Shobha Kaur
Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat
Zaira Wasim as a younger Geeta Phogat
Sanya Malhotra as Babita Kumari
Suhani Bhatnagar as a younger Babita Kumari
What do you need in a good sports drama? A basic knowledge or connect with the particular sport. In India, this points mainly to the sports of chess, wrestling, badminton, hockey and/or cricket. What else? A few backstories to support the main characters. The backstories can either be of struggle and triumph, of love lost, or of a family drama (Bollywood’s favoutrite)
Dangal follows the life of a former wrestling champion, Mahavir Singh Phogat who has a simple dream. A dream that one day, he will be able to look at the honour wall in his brick house and see a gold medal for wrestling, won at an international tournament for India, hanging proudly on the trophy cabinet. Due to reasons of lesser importance, he could not fulfill this dream by himself. However, he lives to see a brighter day, when his son will make his dream come true. Of course, the tricky nature of god is such, that the ageing wrestler is blessed only with daughters. The stubborn Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan), however, decides that ‘gold toh gold hai, chahe ladka laaye ya ladki’. So he sets about training his daughters to become National Champions.
Dangal hits all the right notes. The movie is based on a true story. It has honest portrayals of all it’s main characters. The characters are underdogs (just as all likeable characters always are), and Aamir Khan has played the patriarch (which is very acceptable to the Indian audience). The film is well made and not exaggerated. It has it’s necessary quirks and comic reliefs. The emotion is distributed throughout the film in a very measured manner. All the actors have done a very good job and if we go on to look for mistakes, we would find very few.
The one qualm that we do have with Dangal is the lack of any originality. Of course, since the story was based on true events, the scriptwriter was not given much wiggle-room, but still, we would have appreciated something a little different from all the other average, run-of-the-mill sports dramas out there. Predictability is also an issue. Someone who has watched the trailer, has in a way watched the entire film (other than the fantastic wrestling matches). These two aspects left us a little weary of the overall perfect Dangal.
Aamir Khan acts to the best of his ability. It isn’t one of his best performances, but he does manage to move the audience in the way he wishes. Aamir Khan has also allowed the girls (Fatima and Sanya), to take spotlight, which is always appreciated in a mega-super-star. He has visibly gained a lot of weight for his role and has tried to perfect his Haryanvi accent. Although failing in that area (Just as his Bhojpuri accent in Piku was nothing short of a disaster), he manages to keep the intensity intact, throughout the film.
Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra play both their roles exceedingly well. They are convincing, inspiring and beautiful all at once. Both actresses have excelled in playing their characters. If the reports are to be believed, they also spent hours of hard-work into learning the powerful moves of wrestling and pushing their bodies to the limit. Their acting was controlled, mature and much more engaging than most actresses their age. We really hope to see them on screen with increasing frequency in the future. Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar are also very endearing in the short, albeit important roles of young Geeta and Babita.
Another thing that you cannot miss while watching Dangal, is that it is a pure Disney film. Everything is sugar coated and the ending is necessarily happy. Even the cinematography is executed very optimistically. The concept of the film is woven around the importance of family, and all times of sadness are given very limited screen-time. (You can almost see the broken star sweeping across Cinderella’s castle)
That said, it’s a good watch. A nice way for you to celebrate the year end. Not very different from your average family-sports-drama, but made in a much better fashion. All the ingredients for wholesome family fun are there. A must watch for any budding young athlete in the family, especially if she is a girl. The film won’t blow your socks off, but of course, there will be moments when you are at the edge of your seat and maybe a moment when you will find a tear trickling down your cheek. If you do book a ticket, don’t go in expecting the brilliance of Taare Zameen Par or Lagaan. Nonetheless, Dangal is worth a watch, and from the looks of it, it will remain in theaters for a long time. I give it 3.5/5.
You will like this film if: You liked ‘Brothers’, ‘MSD: The biopic’, ‘Sultan’
You will dislike this film if: You expect the perfection of Taare Zameen Par or Lagaan
Best performance: Aamir Khan
A photo of the real-life Phogat wrestlers at their hometown