I am little nervous to talk about Dangal this time because I read amazing reviews before going to the movie. The movie is indeed good but it didn’t match my expectations somewhere. Aamir’s Haryanvi accent, body language, get up etc. made us forget who he is for a while. In fact in the whole movie, there is not a single time I was reminded of Aamir. On the 70mm screen, I was just seeing Mahavir Singh Phogat.
The movie was fast paced and gripping from the start but many times, it felt repetitive and in loops. Getting girls to wrestle in a society where they aren’t even allowed to wear pants or play any sports, was a brave step. The first half is all about Mr. Phogat training the girls to wrestle. The detailing of the movie is such that one could actually feel the pain and rigor that goes into preparing for national level sports. The girls are witty and punches at times bring a smile in between. When it comes to detailing, this movie successfully teaches the game of wrestling. How the game is played, how points are scored and strategies to play the game.
We debate a lot about parenting across the world. But we have a different style of parenting in India where parents decide a career, life in early years and most of the times, it turns out to be more fruitful for the child. In India, not every child has the privilege to decide for themselves and parents have limited means to support their dreams. So, parents decide a life and career based on their experience. That’s how parents are securing their child’s future. The basic principle is same. Parents want best for their child.
Geeta and Babita hated their father for being tough but it took few words from a friend (who was getting married at their age) made them realize what their father is trying to achieve. Mahavir nailed the emotions of a coach and a father. The scene where he comes to girls’ room and started pressing their leg (because he made them work so hard) brought tears to many eyes. It was emotional indeed. That’s another point of the movie – the strong relationship between father and daughter in a patriarchal society. This movie is a dedication to all fathers who believed in their daughters and gave her every opportunity to grow and flourish by going against the usual norms of the society. There are many fathers like that in India and that’show our girls are doing well in every sphere. The fact that the movie is much talked about and people are going to see, shows that they are associating with the movie. And that clearly is a sign of changing mindset.
Sakshi Tanwar was undoubtedly convincing in her role. Her acting skills were already proven in TV series but she nailed it as Mahavir’s wife. Though I feel her character could have been stronger. But she did complete justice to her part and left a mark in the movie.
In the second half when Geeta grows up and leaves for the national academy, her performance slips away due to lack of focus and discipline. For the first time, she saw a bigger world and had many temptations that she couldn’t succumb to. She starts losing a match because she forgets her roots and success gets into her head. Again this plot is nothing new and was quite expected. But acting skills put a nice patch to this repetitive plot. It’s the same story in a new package. And that’s why I felt that the story was weak.
While Geeta was playing her final matches, the dialogues from Mahavir reminded me of the movie “Chak De, India” and “Chak De” came 10 years ago. When “ChakDe” came, no one was talking about women sports and it was a cult movie. The movie was much talked about and it felt like it will change the women sports in the country. Nothing grand changed but at least it made people aware of the possibilities and the sporting culture in the country. It did spark the conversations. Dangal has a different charm but the message is same. Dangal will surely spark conversations around women sports, opportunities about girl child in society and sports other than cricket. Though I felt that the change is already happening. That’s why sometimes, Bollywood movie can be regressive.
No matter how regressive is the plot. These movies give us reasons to celebrate the birth of a girl child.