Dangal – Aamir all the way

“Dangal” is an interesting take on the lives and struggles of wrestlers Geeta and Babita Kumari Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra respectively), and their father Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan). Mahavir, a national level wrestling champion; has to retire from the profession and take up a “conventional” job, as sadly wrestling doesn’t contribute much in terms of money to sustain a family. However, Mahavir’s passion refuses to die, and he dreams of nurturing a son who would one day win a wrestling gold medal for India.

Unfortunately, Mahavir gets four daughters and no son. However, the oldest two daughters Geeta and Babita beat up boys in a fight; and this causes their father to see the potential in them as future wrestling champions. Much to their chagrin (and to that of their mother Daya Kaur [Sakshi Tanwar]), Mahavir proceeds to train them vigorously with a 5 am routine. Heedless to his girls’ protests and unmindful of the mockery by the villagers, Mahavir ensures that they wear T-shirts and shorts (ideal for wrestling) and even gets their hair cut off, so as to mould them into the ideal build for wrestling.

Initially, Geeta and Babita resent the vigorous training regimen of their father; and rebelliously find means to render it ineffective. In a turn of events though, they happen to attend the wedding of a friend of theirs; who feels the girls are lucky to have such a father who wants to shape their future as wrestlers, when her own father wants to relegate her to household chores; and marries her off at just 14. This manages to change Geeta and Babita’s perspective of their father; and slowly and steadily Mahavir nurtures them  as they get battle-hardened by defeating stout boys in local competitions.

Geeta, the oldest daughter, is the first to make it to the national level of wrestling. However, to make it to the international level, she has to train at the National Sports Academy; under a coach Pramod Kadam (Girish Kulkarni) who has entirely different methods of  training as compared to her father.

Make no mistake, this is an out-and-out Aamir Khan show. He does exceedingly well as a passionate father and a tough taskmaster, pushing his girls to the hilt and making them fearless fighters who believe in making the impossible possible. Fatima Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra play their parts with aplomb. Sakshi Tanwar does an admirable support role as Mahavir’s wife and mother of the girls. She supports the girls in whichever way she can, and though she initially is against Mahavir’s plan of coaching Geeta and Babita; she soon understands the big picture.

Girish Kulkarni unfortunately has a not so positive role as the coach at the National Sports Academy. He resents Mahavir’s role in coaching and mentoring Geeta, and wants to take all the credit  himself.This was typically cinematic, and added to the lengthy screenplay. Also the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ chants at the end seemed to be a very populist move and could have been avoided. However, the stereotypes with respect to girls wrestling were dealt with appropriately, and the movie sends out a positive message that the girls in India can rise above such stereotypes. The background score by Pritam Chakraborty was very apt, and the title song is hummable.

Overall, I would say “perfect film to end 2016” by Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao,Siddharth Roy Kapur and Nitesh Tiwari.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

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