A fiction story soaked in reality, Dangal is no short of perfection. Director Nitesh Tiwari has done a splendid work with the movie ‘Dangal’. The story explains the inspiring journey of the wrestler, Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) and his daughters Geeta (Fatima Sana Sheikh) and Babita (Sanya Malhotra) who fights against all odds to become a world-class wrestler and compete in 2010 Commonwealth Games. There is a freshness in the movie with the new entrants, Fatima and Sanya, but when the Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir Khan is at his best, he is unstoppable. The movie binds everyone and induces so many emotions that will lead to a lot of laughter, anger and tear-shedding moments. Definitely worth a watch for all the people out there who have a fear to go on with their dreams. I’m speechless and so will you become once you watch Dangal.
First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.
This is the beginning of a war that’s surprisingly physical and abnormally mental. He challenges Geeta for a bout where he would test her newly acquired skills. As absurd as it sounds, the burly former wrestler, indeed fights his own daughter with all his might. He loses and with it, the years of conditioning of women and male domination are thrown out of the window. Daler Mehndi belts out the Dangal title song right here and you feel a similar goosebumps moment that you felt in Rang De Basanti, Lagaan and Chak De India. This could be Aamir’s best performance till date. Yes, even better than Lagaan..A man making his daughters chase his dream. It gets a bit preachy. But it doesn’t matter: Mahavir and his girls have already won the bout. He cries, frowns, gets angry, looks old and tired, but is definitely one of us. When he shakes his head helplessly, you see a father in him. When he gets into a brawl, he is the brother you always depended on. When he wants to see you win, you know you have to perform. It’s not just his pride, it’s yours as well.
Aamir Khan, Phogat girls deserve no silver, only gold. Dangal would never have been made if it was not Aamir Khan. Dangal could have been Aamir Khan's vanity project. It is neither, it is a film with a meaning and a message which doesn’t overwhelm the telling. ‘Dangal’ works on the twin parameters it sets up for itself. One is a straight-forward film about a popular sport and those who play it: we feel and smell the `mitti’ of the `akhara’, the `daanv-pench’ (moves) that truly skilled wrestlers use to face down formidable foes. We see the blood, sweat and tears that go into the making of champions. The other is a strong feminist statement about girls being the equal of boys, if not better, in an area they’ve never been seen, let alone accepted. The actors who play the young Geeta and Babita do a competent job of turning into eager combatants from young-girls-who-just-want-to-have-fun. And both Shaikh and Malhotra carry it forward, especially when they spend a lot of the second half on the mat, learning how to lose, and, above all, to win. It could have easily turned into a vanity project, which is a clear and present danger. It could have been made more polished than required. In places it is stolid, and could have done with some lift, but it is solid all the way through. And, most crucially, it stays real, because the star ratchets it up when required, and lets it go in the rest.
In the story department, Dangal offers few surprises because Geeta and Babita's historic wins at the Commonwealth Games and following championships are common knowledge. However, this screen adaptation serves as a recap of their arduous journey and it vigorously recaptures their stubborn father's resolve to make them professional wrestlers against the odds. Since it encapsulates the historic wins of the Phogats, who brought India glory, the film is also bound to inspire more women to seriously consider kushti as a sport. What works wonderfully here is the writing. Director Nitesh Tiwari, along with Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra should be complimented for their tongue-in-cheek quality, peppered with humour and several poignant father-daughter emotions all through. The 51-year-old actor should be complimented for experimenting with his roles, unlike his contemporaries who prefer to play safe. Sakshi as his wife, is restrained, yet effective. And, the debutants Fatima and Sanya are easily this year’s best finds. Music director Pritam and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya manage an earthy soundtrack with Daler Mehndi’s title track pumping up the adrenaline. Also, the soft track Gilheriyaan, the Haryanvi rap and hip-hop Haanikarak Bapu and the Dhakaad number, are in perfect tandem with the narrative. Demonetisation be damned, watch Dangal.