New Delhi (Online): 2016 was partly dominated by sport biopics, from 'Azhar' to 'MS Dhoni- The Untold Story', the final addition to the list 'Dangal', hands-down steals the show.
The movie set in the backdrop of the Khap-ridden state of Haryana, where female infanticide is still prevalent and the men of the house call the shots, is a gripping account of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat's life.
'Dangal' explores the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir), a wrestler from Haryana, loses hope of having a son and he trains his daughters Geeta (Fatima) and Babita (Sanya) to make wrestling history, thus breaking the taboo of Indian women participating in a sport thus far dominated by men.
Dangal offers few surprises because Geeta and Babita's historic wins at the Commonwealth Games and following championships are common knowledge. However, this screen adaptation serves as a recap of their arduous journey and it vigorously recaptures their stubborn father's resolve to make them professional wrestlers against the odds. Since it encapsulates the historic wins of the Phogats, who brought India glory, the film is also bound to inspire more women to seriously consider kushti as a sport.
According to The Times of India, what works wonderfully here is the writing. Director Nitesh Tiwari, along with Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra should be complimented for their tongue-in-cheek quality, peppered with humour and several poignant father-daughter emotions all through. Of course, a little bit is lost in translation because of the Haryanvi twang. But, messages on our obsession with the male child (prevalent since the dark ages), myopic stand on bringing up our daughters and the administration’s pathetic disposition towards sports, are loud and clear.
It is to the film’s credit that though Geeta and Babita’s wins are documented, it still manages to engage the viewer with the wrestling tournaments and bring patriotic emotions to the fore. Most importantly, Dangal scores with its first-rate performances. An ungainly Aamir (22 kilos heavier) with grey hair is pitch-perfect as the ziddi yet sensitive parent. The 51-year-old actor should be complimented for experimenting with his roles, unlike his contemporaries who prefer to play safe. Sakshi as his wife, is restrained, yet effective. And, the debutants Fatima and Sanya are easily this year’s best finds.
Dangal’s Music director Pritam and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya manage an earthy soundtrack with Daler Mehndi’s title track pumping up the adrenaline. Also, the soft track Gilheriyaan, the Haryanvi rap and hip-hop Haanikarak Bapu and the Dhakaad number, are in perfect tandem with the narrative.
Demonetisation be damned.