Dangal: Oscar Entry From India, Please! – India Pages Movie Review

Dangal movie review

Statutory warning … uhh advice: please book your theatre tickets before proceeding with reading this review, because this is a film that isn’t even dependent on critics and their verdict!

Aamir’s third film revolving around sport (cycling, cricket and now wrestling) is a film you watch with your heart. Only he could have backed a project which might have deterred several producers because it narrates the story of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, and his daughters. One of them being India’s first woman to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 – Geeta Kumari Phogat.

The plot, as the promos have easily revealed, is about a former National champion wrestler – Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan), who is confined to an ordinary life in a government job. His wings were clipped by financial constraints, but his dreams weren’t. Phogat is certain that his son will win a gold for the country someday, and the Indian flag will fly high with pride at an international event.

Destiny, that angel with a tarnished halo, teases him till he loses even the last strand of the dreams he’s weaving. One after the other, his wife Daya (Saakshi Tanwar) gives birth to 4 daughters. Phogat packs all his medals and certificates into an old trunk, knowing he never has to see them again.

Dreams ripped apart, Destiny lures him again when his older daughters Geeta and Babita, all of 10 or 11, come home after having beaten up two little fellows for abusing them. It is then that their father realises that it wasn’t sons because daughters could bring home wrestling medals too.

Therein begins their rigorous training, much to the horror of their mother, and the shock of the rest of the Haryanvi community in their little village.

Thereon, the film takes you on their journey through a fabulously comic narrator, the cousin brother of these girls (Aparshakti Khurrana) bringing a quirkiness to the narrative. The music by Pritam and the cinematography by Sethu Sriram are neatly blended with the film and they never overpower the story itself (which is a mean feat for any creator)

The casting of this film by Mukesh Chhabra, is so pat-on, that it leaves you overwhelmed and always in sync with the emotions the characters are grappling with, on screen. Not for a moment do you doubt that Geeta and Babita (as children, as well as when they’ve grown up) are anything but who they are playing.

Respect to Junior Indian Women’s Wrestling colach, Kripa Shankar Bishnoi for transforming an entire cast of ‘actors’ and making them seem like wrestling professionals!

It’s tricky to pin down the film to a single definition.

Yes, it is a bio-pic about a sportsperson, but it is also a patriotic film.

Yes, it is a feminist film, but it is also is a film about fathers and daughters.

Yes, it is an emotional journey, buy it is also a joyride.

The 4-writer band of Director Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Nikhil Jain and Shreyas Meharotra might have spent agonising nights writing, re-writing and polishing their baby before delivering it. and handing it over to the rest of the world. Now, they can watch their agony turn into ecstasy because all the choices and sacrifices they have made, are about to pay off! Aamir Khan Productions, UTV Motion Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures have a very deserving (and very possible) Oscar entry on their hands.

Every artist / writer reaches a point where they consider their creation ‘complete’ and then surrender it to the world. Their work is now no longer just theirs, because everyone who views it has owned it in the way they perceive it.

While you watch this film about a ‘baapu’ who is ‘sehat ke liye haanikaarak’ as claimed by his daughters, you are sure to find yourself pondering and questioning. And you will find that not every ‘dangal’ is wrestled on mats and given scores. Some ‘dangals’ might be emotional or merely verbal, but you will still have to take them head on!

 India Pages Rating: ★★★★

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Suhana Bhatia
Suhana Bhatia
Features Editor