Bollywood Times

Dangal movie review: Aamir Khan and Phogat sisters’ story win the bout

Cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Girish Kulkarni, Aparshakti Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra
Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Rating: 4/5

First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are years away. Geeta Phogat (Zaira Wasim, Fatima Sana Shaikh) has just returned to Balali, her village in Haryana, after months of preparation at the National Sports Academy in Patiala. Something about her has changed. She isn’t exactly the same girl her father, former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan), trained. She is more confident, ambitious, better skilled and ready to take on the world by storm.

On the other hand, the rustic Mahavir wants to keep things simple. The tough patriarch wants his daughter to remain focused on the elusive international wrestling medals for India. He doesn’t like the way Geeta has been sucked into the new training regime. He thinks his methods are better than the coach’s at the academy.

Mahavir wants a son to fulfil his dream. (YouTube)

This is the beginning of a war that’s surprisingly physical and abnormally mental. He challenges Geeta for a bout where he would test her newly acquired skills. As absurd as it sounds, the burly former wrestler, indeed fights his own daughter with all his might. He loses and with it, the years of conditioning of women and male domination are thrown out of the window.

This is the point where director Nitesh Tiwari had to decide the hero of the film: Will Mahavir curb his instincts and become an even more fierce coach, or will he let Geeta explore the horizon? He picks the first.

Chapter 1: Mission Impossible

Mahavir has four daughters after some years. (YouTube)

It is the early 1980s and wrestlers are treated as local heroes. This is yet not the time for gym-toned bodies and common folks like to believe that wrestlers are physically superior to them. On top of that, Mahavir Singh Phogat is a former national champion. Now a government servant, Phogat, who wears a gold ring and a silver-plated watch, has a volatile temper and wants a son to carry his legacy forward.


Chapter 3: Resurrection

People cheer the winners. They celebrate your success when you are on a high. Some don’t. And you meet them again when you return to your roots. In the rise and fall, what keeps a champion aloof from his surroundings is the survival instinct and the motive. Geeta and her national champion sister Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar, Sanya Malhotra) know they have got into wrestling with a mission. Win is the only way forward.

Chapter 4: Respect

You hear a roar before witnessing the frothy sea, a metaphor for Geeta and Babita’s quest to be at the crest of wrestling. Daler Mehndi belts out the Dangal title song right here and you feel a similar goosebumps moment that you felt in Rang De Basanti, Lagaan and Chak De India.


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