Movies

Dangal: This is a winner!

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Sports-based films had few takers till late, especially the concocted stories kind. However, the biographical sports-oriented films seem to work better, albeit, if they are inspiring enough and based on the lives of self-made successes.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Paan Singh Tomar, M S Dhoni: The Untold Story, Mary Kom are a few examples. Whose story the film is based on and the faces behind such a film also matters.

Dangal is a biopic based on one such story that has a lot working for it. The story defies taboos and traditions of the native Haryana where a father pining for boys in the family but siring, instead, four daughters, decides to train his daughters to step into an arena of wrestling, a sport dominated by men, and excel.

Dangal is based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a wrestler from Bilali village in Haryana who served as a coach for India’s Olympic wrestlers. Phogat, played by Aamir Khan, always dreamt of making wrestling champions out of his sons and win a Gold Medal for India. However, his dreams are far from being realised when his wife, Daya Shobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) delivers four daughters.

Phogat is disillusioned when one day while he hears of his two daughters beating up a village bully. Seeing their aggression and fighting spirit, he decides to do something nobody in his state would dream of. Train his daughters into world class wrestlers and bring the country its first gold medal.

As the training begins, much to the girls’ reluctance and resistance, any and everything that hinders their training and concentration is done away with. The salwar kameez are replaced by shorts and T shirts, their long hair are shorn off and chicken becomes the staple food. A wrestling arena is built in the family farm and the girls’ cousin, Aparshakti Khurrana's character, is the guinea pig with whom the girls practice their wrestling strategies.

As the older of the two daughters, Geeta (Fatima Sana Shaikh) qualifies to train at the National Sports Academy, the grounds rules change, something Fatima is not used to. Life here is easier than the one she lived at home training under her father. Her first lesson from the coach (Girish Kulkarni) is that she unlearns all that her father taught her and begin anew. There is enough indulgence in watching TV, outings in the town and also freedom to eat gol gappas. This only works to corrupt the qualities and expertise that the girl possessed in wrestling.

The result is, Geeta goes on losing all her international bouts and gets into verbal conflicts with her disappointed father. By now, even the younger Phogat girl, Babita (Sanya Malhotra) has qualified for a place at the Academy. Through her, she sees the value of her father’s coaching. Then starts a dual of coaches unawares of each other as Geeta listens to all that her coach has to say while follows what her father teaches her.

Aamir Khan has become the master of playing unconventional roles in a totally deglamorised avatar and yet promise a hit! He gets into the skin of the veteran coach, Mahavir Singh Phogat so much that even the later would be proud of.

The girls, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar as young Geeta and Babita are excellent as most of the earlier and challenging part rests on their shoulders. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra, the grown-up Phogat sisters, carry on the solid base created convincingly by the young ones and not letting a continuity jerk show. SakshiTanwar and Aparshakti are natural all the way.

Dangal wins half its bout at the writing stage itself as the narration is smooth and witty dialogue make the initial training parts enjoyable which, in other such training phases in a film are tougher on viewers than on the aspiring sportsperson! Direction by Nitesh Tiwari is accomplished; he never lets the film sag at any stage despite its genre and length (161 minutes).

The climax strays for the better and sends a viewer back with a serving of patriotism. Cinematography is very good. The songs have a purely utility value.

The Haryanvi language used extensively in the film is no deterrent. Dangal is a winner all the way with all the makings of a first blockbuster biopic in Hindi film industry.

Producers: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Sidharth Roy Kapur.

Direction: Nitesh Tiwari.

Cast: Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Washim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Sakshi Tanwar.

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