Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dangal: a battle

Aamir Khan has taken such giant strides as an actor that  his stature has become nearly untouchable. To pass judgement on his acting skills has become tougher for the reviewer; and for Aamir too, to keep scaling up from his previous movie as he sets the bar higher with each one of his films.
His one film a year is worth a hundred other releases. Apart from Dhoom, I have gone to watch his every film without a thought. He has done it again with Dangal.
Dangal is a film on sports. It starts with a young Aamir who was once a national wrestling champion but one who has failed to win the gold for his country. Subtle references are made to the uncongenial circumstances in India that do not help foster one's sporting capabilities and then you are forced to take up a job to support yourself financially instead of concentrating on furthering your interest in sports.
Aamir is supported very nicely by Sakshi Tanwar as his wife, who despite her TV acting background, has proved that subtlety is something that a good actor is capable of. Her quiet presence was what the movie needed...of a mother who is caught between her husband's dreams for his daughters and  the demands of a bigoted society in Haryana where the protagonists live.
As it happens in Haryana or maybe any other place in India, Aamir can only think of a son fulfilling his dream for a gold medal. Therefore, when his wife gets pregnant, he eagerly awaits a son. But the first is  a daughter, and the next and next and the next...
He gives up on his dream till one day a complaint against his daughters who had beaten up a few boys from the neighborhood makes him realize that he doesn't need a son to fulfill his dreams. Even the daughters are good. "A wrestler's blood runs in his children," he says.
The two daughters (Fatima and  Sanya) are then trained vigorously to enable them to take up wrestling at the state, national and international levels. Despite this obsession for the fulfillment of his dreams, it is commendable to note that Aamir makes a point never to raise a hand against a girl.
Though Aamir's thrusting his dreams on his children cannot be condoned, yet, for a father to dream of a career for his daughters beyond cooking, marrying and producing children, to go against the societal dictates is something to be highly lauded. He fights with the society and with his own children. The reluctant children  strive to live up to their father's expectation only when a friend who is getting married at fourteen, says she wished for such a father too.
Aamir takes them to dangals, a first time dangal where he has his girls wrestling with the boys. Though sniggered at initially, the wrestlers soon realize what they are up against. The girls eventually become the pride of their father when they return to their village with trophies won in game after game.
The girls are sent to Patiala, a city, for further training to prepare them for the international game. In a few touch-and-go scenes, Aamir shows the dark side of such academia. He continues to support his daughters till Fatima goes on to win the gold.
Aamir has excelled himself as a young wrestler, as a middle aged and an old father. He shows no qualms as an actor, putting on weight, adapting a slow gait, sporting a grizzly beard and acting older to his real age. He doesn't believe in being in every frame as the main lead, and allows the girls to take the center stage whenever necessary. Though this does go to the director, Nitesh Tiwari's, credit you'd seldom find our heroes let other actors hog the limelight.
The movie is based on real life story of Mahavir Singh Phogat who has made sure that all his daughters excel in their game.
Aparshakti Khurrana, (Ayushmann Khurrana's brother) makes an impact as the narrator and the goofy nephew of Aamir Khan. He provides the necessary comic  relief to the otherwise serious narration. 'Bapu sehath ke liye' song adds to the fun. The main leads' attempts to have a son through following various superstitious beliefs also is hilarious! Watch out especially for the line, 'kal subah panch baje..."
The two girls and the nephews' younger selves have done some great work too.
In some places, I felt that the film was holding itself back with a very cautious approach to some plausible provocative issues, given especially the backdrop of the very vocal condemnation of Aamir's statements last year.
The story maybe accused of having a simplistic approach but it doesn't fail in its gripping narration. My reviewer's eye was forgotten as I lost myself in lapping up every scene greedily.
For me the story works for what it stands for...a supporting father who stands against the world to give shape to his daughters' career. This film, coming from Aamir's stable, will surely give hope to all daughters in India.
My rating: 4 and a half on 5.


azam said...

Despite this obsession for the fulfillment of his dreams, it is commendable to note that Aamir makes a point never to raise a hand against a girl. This line was superb, excellent observation!!!

Awesome Review!


Beautiful World said...

Thanks Azam. You made my day!