The Phogat family finally gets the limelight they deserve. If it weren’t for Dangal movie, one of Nitesh Tiwari‘s best works hitherto, more than half of the country wouldn’t even realize a feat so colossal had happened once in their backyard.
It goes without saying, we barely care for things that aren’t there for big screen viewing. How much we weigh a feat depends on the who, the what, and the how of its portrayal. In a way things were already headed to awesome-ville the moment we saw Aamir Khan sizing this huge project with his thoughtful eyes. The bar was still in the hands of Nitesh though. Unfortunately he couldn’t really raise it to the extent we had expected it to reach in the climactic half of the movie.
Overlook that, and you still have a brilliantly directed flick in your hand. Right from the point where painstaking detailing has been put in its wrestling bouts to the point where personal ego is allowed to rip relationships apart, Dangal doesn’t disappoint.
Aamir Khan’s Dangal
It wouldn’t be wrong to say Dangal is entirely Amir Khan’s movie. We are already aware of how seriously he takes his projects. Heights he scaled for Dangal movie in order to crack perfection once again was quite evident from his “fat to fit” video. He got under the skin of Mahavir Singh Phogat and literally became him. That puckering of his eyes and that frown over his brow tell you he was living the constant turmoil the protagonist had once faced. He makes melodrama more interesting to watch. It is hard not to empathize with him whenever he delivers a crushing line. Then it wasn’t just him who was taking his role seriously, but the rest of the cast too.
Moving on to the flick’s deuteragonist, Geeta Phogat, is the one who is chosen to take the movie forward. As some might already know, Geeta was India’s first gold medallist in Wrestling at Commonwealth Games. Dangal movie is basically centered around her childhood, her ego clashes with her father, and then the onward journey to earn that elusive gold. It also serves as an inspiration for women all across India.
The Childhood Phase
Phogat kids had it rough. Geeta’s childhood portrayal was superbly aced by Zaira Wasim. It was complemented brilliantly by Suhani Bhatnagar, who plays young Babita Kumari. Zaira is a very talented artist who makes her presence felt every time she comes on-screen to deliver.
The ‘Hanikarak Bapu’ song beautifully captures the monstrosity levied upon by every Indian child by a strict parent in reticent words. Children’s innate knack to shudder the moment they hear their father roar was strangely relatable. Indian parenting is still as arrogant as the movie projects. It is in fact a way of living, which even though is gradually waning today, is still extant in less developed areas. People choose to believe in those obstinate chores to instill in their child a wont, hoping parents are actually doing the child a huge favour. Thus follows the Dangal theme trying to show the biopic as is.
A child is every reflection of their parent’s. It’s their hammering that gives a child’s life a perspective. In an attempt to prep them up to align them towards a purpose, Mahavir lays down questionable iniquities on the Phogat sisters. But in the end, they deliver. It is what the world remembers them by.
How many Phogats gave up trying to pursue a dream or a vision they couldn’t see all the way through? Or worse, ended up rebelling against cruelty and losing the image, the fate that was meant for them in the first place? There’s a reason the name of the Phogats will resound in eternity. It is all because of a constant painful struggle to reach an elusive goal, and a focused path manifested by a strict visionary topped with a rigorous lifestyle that helped in turning dreams into reality.
The Primal Aspirational Argument
There are two faces to a coin. It is aptly justified when a broken Mahavir visits his children at night to ease their pain. It crushes him too being that strict, but he believes to achieve bigger things in life sacrifices are inevitable. He puts:
I can’t be a father when I am being a mentor.
If you are thinking why one should be enforcing one’s thoughts and aspirations onto a child, you have to understand it is a child that can be manipulated. You can’t impose your thoughts on a grown up. Try to reason with a grown up and it will end up in a fuming debate. If there’s a direction you see, you can only tell someone with a clean slate to follow it, and not a person that questions you back.
To a child who has yet to figure out a dream, it is a perfect phase to show him/her a path. If you prepare them upfront, they will come to understand one day why one’s doing what one’s doing and what needs to be done.
You put that in my head. It’s all I see.
That leaves us with two ways to look at it – What Mahavir did was absolutely unjust, trying to surmount your dreams on your children’s delicate shoulders, smothering their own dreams, making yours their own. Or you could look at it as what Mahavir achieved by pushing his children was exactly the kind of fame his kids expected from life. Isn’t that the job of every mentor? All great sportspersons who excelled at something had their coaches moulding them constantly at every juncture. If there was no Mahavir or his big dreams, we would have never heard about the Phogats at all. That’s where the former argument goes invalid.
Extraordinary Family Drama of Dangal Movie (Spoilers Ahead)
Whilst trying to justify Dangal’s heartwarming drama, we get to see some of the most havocking bits, all coiled up after Geeta and Babita grow up. There is this moment of egoistic clash between Mahavir and Geeta that will tear you apart. It is very engaging and makes you very emotional. It is the apt music placement that tingles the right chords causing you to have your blood-curdling moment.
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Also, when Geeta keeps losing, realizing her mistake, is contacted by Babita. She suggests her to talk with her father to ask for forgiveness. That’s another dramatic moment right there! It would again have you crying along with the protagonist. It’s quite nerve-racking in a way. You can’t help but empathize with them, and that’s why the tears end up becoming real.
Downsides and Flaws
Whilst Dangal is a great movie it isn’t entirely devoid of flaws either. After a dashing better part of the flick where all the melodrama lurks, when you realize you are about to reach the movie’s climax, things begin to kind of fall apart. Suddenly Geeta Phogat loses her awesome comportment; she becomes strangely submissive.
We find a coach who is shown in an ugly limelight. His character is made so wicked that it is hard to take him seriously. It is not good for the plight of Indian sports. People are so emotional that they are going to believe such elements exist in our country, and might blame a coach for someone’s poor performance. It is a fictitious character created from thin air, named Pramod Kadam played by Girish Kulkarni, since we can’t really do without a villain in our stories. Also, maybe we need all the hate to go somewhere I surmise.
Nitesh loses his touch when he makes sports a laughable affair. He shows international players in a negative spotlight, as if there’s no extant spirit of sports in people from foreign land. I doubt if the Australian actually made a smug statement of destroying Geeta Phogat. It was a villainous image she was framed into.
Climax of Dangal Movie
Nitesh Tiwari also changes some facts to make the final look like a nail-biting affair, which was okay actually. But when he decides to emote the whole climax by locking Mahavir away, you can’t help but shake your head. It’s as if he ran out of story, and was desperately looking for that modicum of a culminating point to satiate a patriotic crowd. That appears immensely contrived and artificial. Ending is written in a light so as to extract uncalled for nationalism from a parallel running anthem. Nothing subtle about it! It looked really daft!
Sakshi Tanwar ends up getting sidelined way too much for her one big on screen role. There is so much talent in her that never really came to fruition in the movie. Also, the screenplay of the movie is average and doesn’t carry that glint of subtlety to it. It becomes really disturbing at times when you are forced to listen to the weird juxtaposition of “Attack!” and “Defend!” shouts that break in during an intense match. You can’t help but wonder if that is the way international matches are really shredded.
The Final Verdict
If you really look at it, Mahavir Singh Phogat was the person who did things differently. He took the world by surprise by not following the normal ways of the living. He was bold enough to fight societal barriers, was prepared for any kind of backlash that emanated therefrom, and ready to take the world head-on. His resilience is profoundly riveting even though he seems to be layering his dream on his children.
The prime motive of biopics is to celebrate people. It’s sad, in India, it can’t be done without spicing things up. So much that we drift away from the original course. Dangal movie was no different when it ran out of stories to tell. It’s awe-inspiring energy goes missing in the later ending part. But when you take all the artificiality and the cheesiness out of the equation, you realize the movie is actually a byproduct of some really fine and intense diligence. All of it was possible because of a combined effort put in by its actors and the rest of the crew, not to forget its astounding outstanding melodrama.
Check out our other reviews of Indian Movies as well.
You can check out the trailer of Dangal movie here: