Dangal Review: Scoot over Sultan, the Phogats are here!

Haryana is a state mostly popular for nefarious reasons. It’s a region where skewed gender ratios and cases of women rights violation are the norm. But this state has also given us many reasons to be proud of – the sportspersons it has given birth to. Kapil Dev has won laurels in Cricket. Sakshi Malik and Deepa Malik have got us Olympic and Paralympic medals in Weightlifting and Athletics, respectively. And the Phogat sisters – Geeta, Babita and Vinesh, have won umpteen national and international medals in Wrestling. They have captured our hearts – on the sports arena and the silver screen, with Dangal.

Dangal, starring Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Sakshi Tanwar and Sanya Malhotra, released on 23 December 2016. It depicts the illustrious lives of the Phogats who surpassed all odds to emerge as winners in life and sports. It is a tale of grit, determination, hard work and perseverance.

Before the movie begins, a disclaimer states that the movie is inspired by the Phogats and has fictitious events. That, however, does not dilute the essence of the movie, Girls aren’t any lesser than boys and to be strong in the face of adversity and never give up.

Dangal Synopsis

We are shown the desire of Mahavir Phogat (Aamir Khan), a former National-level Wrestler himself, to beget a son whom he can train to compete and win at international events. Alas, time and again a daughter is born, dashing his hopes. The movie also captures the social ills prevailing at Haryana, where the birth of a girl is a mirthless affair. Women are portrayed as docile and obedient homemakers and caretakers of children. Any deviation from this is thought scandalous and mocked at.

Phogat, too, is of similar opinion, until one day his teenage daughters prove him wrong. He realizes their potential and begins their training which the girls vehemently oppose, and deem their father ‘Haanikarak Bapu’ (hazardous father). An incident makes them see things differently and the girls change their stance of wrestling, thrustling the movie forward.

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We witness the apathy towards sports and women in sports in India, how the lack of funding, facilities and support has marred the development of sports in the country. We are shown the slow-but-steady rise, and fall of Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Sheikh), the elder daughter. But then like a phoenix, after a series of defeats, she rises again from the ashes in a thrilling climax.

In true cinematic style, the last segment of Dangal is filled with fear and fervent hope for Geeta Phogat to win against an opponent, who has previously defeated her twice. Does she manage to clinch the Commonwealth gold? You might know the answer to that already, but it still is a glorious moment to witness, ably captured by Cinematographer Setu, and with apt background score by Pritam.

Brilliant acting supports and lifts Dangal

Aamir, as usual, is a brilliant performer and the perfection is seen in all the little details. The small diary from where he takes out a currency note to give to a young wrestler, to his costumes to his Haryanvi. A big shout out to the ladies Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra, as they give powerful performances, on the wrestling mat, and otherwise. Sakshi Tanwar fits the bill as the supporting mother figure.

While you march into the theatre and stand up grumbling for the mandatory National Anthem, towards the end, Nitesh Tiwari (Director), makes you fight back tears and stand up tall and proud of your country, while the familiar chords of Jana Gana Mana are struck.

Dangal is a must-watch movie for 2016, to be and stay inspired.

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