By MEHER MASALAWALA
January 18, 2017
“Dangal is based on the true story of former wrestler and Olympic coach, Mahavir Singh Phogat who trained his two eldest daughters, Geeta and Babita, to wrestle and win gold for India. “
After three long years, the Mr. Perfectionist of Bollywood, Aamir Khan has come back with an eagerly awaited new movie, Dangal. This film was surrounded with a lot of hype because of the respect Khan commands in the Hindi film industry. Dangal is Nitesh Tiwari’s directorial debut and hit the theaters on Dec. 23rd and is still riding high at the box office.
The buzz around the film largely had to do with its wrestling background and inspiring story. In 2016, Bollywood already seen a similar theme in Sultan, a film starring Bollywood superstar, Salman Khan. Although Sultan and Dangal are about the same sport and while Sultan was hugely successful, Dangal proves to be a different type of film all together.
It is a film about the dedication of a father towards his daughters in a highly patriarchal society and how the girls achieve success despite all kinds of tribulations including matters of their own egos.
Dangal is based on the true story of former wrestler and Olympic coach, Mahavir Singh Phogat who trained his two eldest daughters, Geeta and Babita, to wrestle and win gold for India. The plot surrounds the family living in rural Haryana, surrounded by a community that doesn’t expect much from women. The film is about the girls’ struggle to reach their goals, disprove society and fulfill their father’s dream.
Based on the excellent direction, attention to detail and flawless performances, Dangal is possibly one of the best releases of the year and was a great way to send off the tumultuous year of 2016. It is a film about the dedication of a father towards his daughters in a highly patriarchal society and how the girls achieve success despite all kinds of tribulations including matters of their own egos.
The performances in the film were of a high quality and the cast has done a realistic job in conveying this inspiring story. The four girls that played Geeta and Babita in both their childhood and adulthood did a marvelous job and matched up to Aamir Khan’s performance, which is no easy feat, considering he is a veteran. Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar played the younger versions of Geeta and Babita respectively, and Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra played the older roles.
Sheikh, who has acted in the famous Indian remake of Mrs. Doubtfire, Chachi 420(1997) as a child, plays the meaty main role in this film and has done very well post a long hiatus from acting.
Sakshi Tanwar, a well-known Indian soap opera star, played the role of the girls’ mother and she has delivered a fine performance. Tanwar has been a household name since her appearance in popular television serials like Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki (The Story of Every Household) and Bade Ache Lagte Hain (It Seems So Beautiful)
The child stars Wasim and Bhatnagar were an adorable component of the film. They were full of expression and hilariously amusing in the first half of the film. Their extreme dedication to learning how to wrestle, having all their hair shaved off and performing so naturally in their roles ultimately lead to a very entertaining first half of the film.
The wrestling match scenes are exciting to watch since you see Geeta and Babita in roaring action. The female actors went through rigorous training for their roles and it has paid off tremendously on screen. The choreography of the wrestling scenes is highly genuine and so well done. Such refines choreography showed in the authentic scenes where you find yourself jumping up from your seat, anxious and rooting for an ending you’re already aware of.
All in all, Dangal is a typical sports film about achievement and follows the classic plot arches, but what raises its status to something special was the simplicity of the story and down-to-earth, easily understood dialogues accompanied with strong performances. It is a film that is rooted in culture and therefore appeals to all types of viewers. Additionally, it is sending a great message about women empowerment without being too overbearing and preachy.
Geeta Phogat took home the gold and Babita took the silver for India in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Dangal portrays their life story with honesty and grit and serves as a source of pride for the people of India.
Be sure to catch the latest showing in a theater near you!