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Let’s Wrestle with ‘Dangal’, a movie review.

Spoiler Alert: This is a post-movie review, which may not be an ideal read for someone waiting to watch the movie. Still, if you seek an opinion before watching the film, read on.

Finally, I was able to acquire the most prestigious ticket to watch the much awaited movie ‘Dangal’, released in December 2016, staring the admiral Sir Aamir Khan! Reason for calling the ticket so prestigious was, that despite being released almost two weeks ago, I couldn’t find a seat where I wouldn’t have to crank my neck and come out of the theater needing Physio.

Going into the movie, I had some expectations, which were trashed, and some unexpected pleasant surprises… making me enjoy the movie more…

Thus the reason why my review of this flick is a Dangal in itself ;).

The movie started out with a flashback of hardly first 15 minutes. I think that the hype of Amir Khan first shooting his ‘Father-age’ scenes with 25kg piled on, and then reducing it all to get fit for a few minutes of ‘Young-age’ Wrestler role, is commendable. Either this man has the address for the fountain of youth, or he has magical genes! He can age when he wants, and be young when desired. I am so jealous!

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The movie is pretty fast paced. If I am being brutally honest, I would say that I have seen the movie in snippets through the official trailers. The trailers more or less cover the story-line, and the almost 3 hours show offers little to none of the desired surprise or twist that a Bollywood flick should serve up. For those completely in oblivious of the movie, it is a biographical recap of the life of a father who was a professional wrestler. He goes on to break all social norms to make his daughters into international winning wrestlers.

Now on to the good part…

That said, I must applaud the portrayal of ‘Father-daughter’ bond, that our culture propagates. The movie not only shows the suppression of women in villages, but also the other side. Dangal shows the story of one of many ‘rebel-dads’ who go against the soci0-culture barriers of our South East Asia.

I was happy to note that the respect for father in the form of lowered-gazes, and, standing up when addressed, are such perfect representations of how the ‘Father-Child respect’, was taught to our generation (talking about people born in and around the 80’s).

I was pleasantly surprised by the perfect capturing of emotions through body language , as acted out by both the younger and older ‘Geeta’. If honestly asked, I would say Geeta (Both Zaira Wasim and Fatima Sana Shaikh) are the key star/s of the movie! The younger Geeta’s conflicted acceptance of wrestling as part of herself, and her strong contempt for loosing, are all recorded without using many words.

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Fatima Sana Shaikh’s (grown up Geeta)  relationship with her father (Amir Khan), and the development of resentment towards him, followed by realization of wrong-doing, is all more-or-less acted out through emotions, rather than words! This is what I think is the most commendable part of the movie!

The role of ‘Babita’ is also played out so well. Her role of being a loyal child, is so true of the family dynamics of each household. The actresses (Suhani Bhatnagar and Sanya Malhotra) playing both the young and youthful Babita, were commendable in their performance, again relying heavily on emotions and actions, rather than dialogue.

Still, what Bollywood movie is without proper dialogues? The dry-humor style of  the script to tackle social issues is both entertaining and eye opening. Especially, when Mahavir (AK) and his wife discuss the implications of letting their girls wrestle, I loved the following exchange between the two:

Wife: What will the Village people say about this?

Mahavir: Until when will they talk? (meaning that soon another topic will come along)

This exchange was a perfect way to deal with the ‘self-entitled duty’ of the desi society to judge others. I think this was the classic punch to the wagging tongues of the interfering society.

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Despite rare mention, I thoroughly enjoyed the role of the Cousin; ‘Omkar’ who was the Story-telling voice in the movie. The role played by both the young and youthful actors was done to depict the personality of a submissive yet supportive cousin. Interestingly, I can not find much information on Omkar anywhere online, making me wonder if he was a real character or developed for the sake of the movie…

Over all, I think it is a perfect family movie , which comes at a time when Women Rights and their value is being reinforced in the society. This idea is no longer just an Asian agenda, but being done globally. Women can achieve all when they set their hearts to it.

Also, I think it is a perfect ode to the father’s who have stood behind their daughters and didn’t flinch in clashing against the social restrictions to give their guria a winning chance.

The comparison by many of this movie to ‘Sultan’ is fair, as both movies do encourage female-equality, and are based on wrestling. However, while Sultan was a colorful Bollywood paisa-wasool picture with songs and actions, Dangal is stronger in showing human emotions, and is based on a real-life situation.

As with most biographical films, I do encourage one to go and read the real story of Sir Mahavir Singh Phogat in the book called Akhada, authored by Sourabh Duggal.

Keep in mind, Dangal is based on the real story, but it has also been altered to encourage viewership.

In the end, I am adrenalized to change the old saying:

Behind every successful woman, there is a man!

Salute to my Baba Jaan!

What did you think about the movie?

UPDATE: I found out that a special video was recorded by Aamir Khan , which is NOT in the film… check it out…