MOVIE REVIEW: Dangal

Here's City 1016's Lokesh Dharmani's verdict on the film
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MOVIE REVIEW: Dangal

Aamir Khan

Read more about Aamir Khan

Director- Nitesh Tiwari

Cast- Aamir Khan, Sakshi Pradhan, Zarina Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra

Rating- 4 stars

It’s not important to tell you that I am feeling emotional, ecstatic and overwhelmed after watching Dangal because it takes away from the film. But it’s equally imperative for me to tell you that Dangal is an experience that made me smile, laugh, cry and left me all shaken and inspired.

Dangal works on multiple levels. Besides being one of the best sports films, it’s a story of a stubborn father, fighting the world and even his daughters for a long awaited international glory. Most importantly it’s a fabulous comment on parenthood that left me to tears. And all these layers in the film are equally convincing and engaging.

The strength of Dangal (and sometimes its weakness too) lies in its narrative and characters that despite being progressive are deeply rooted in patriarchy. They say hamari choriyan choro se kam hain kya a statement that reeks of misogyny but we know Mahavir better. He loves his daughters, believes in equality and despite being pushy in his ways, seeks his wife’s permission to grant him a year so that he can train his daughters.

But Mahavir has his flaws too. Besides equality, he roots for his daughters to fulfill a long cherished dream of an international victory that he eluded him. He fights stereotypes, rules and repression and pushes his daughters to breaking point. I cried a river as he ruthlessly cut his daughters’ hair and deprives them of a normal childhood. It’s at this point that it becomes such a realistic commentary on parenthood. Pushy parents in the name of bachcho ki bhalai put unrealistic pressure on kids that sometimes make them, often break them.

But before Mahavir knows, Geeta has already grown wings, shaken hands with new friends, new coach and a newer tempting world. There is a beautiful emotional fight scene between Mahavir and his daughter Geeta, just before she takes charge of her life. The film at this point soars and becomes a riveting father daughter film, hinting, how as parents, we should let our kids go, let them make their own decisions, their own mistakes and let them learn from them. And when they come back with new experiences and perspectives, broken and battered, we must take them back, because family is usually that one secure place where you are accepted with your flaws and follies. The scene where Geeta sobs on the phone left me much embarrassed as I howled in a theatre full of people.

Dangal is also one of the finest sports films. The writers first educate you on a few wrestling tricks and use them rather deftly at strategic points, involving everyone, even the wrestling novices. The beautifully choreographed fights are so engaging that at a crucial point in the movie, I saw from the corner of my eye; people around me sat up stiff and straight, on the edge of their seats and sighed relief collectively as the crisis gets resolved on the screen.

The performances are class apart. Aamir’s dedication to the movie to get the body and soul of Mahavir, living his imperfections so perfectly leaves you overwhelmed. But the real finds are the new girls, all four of them. Zarina Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar as young Geeta and Babita bring in the right amount of nice and naughty to their characters. Fatima and Sanya as adult Geeta and Babita get both the language and body language of wrestlers so brilliantly that you wonder if they are actors or real life wrestlers.

There are so many things that work for the movie; the role reversal of a brother cooking for his wrestler-sisters and never coming across as pansy, the beautiful detailing of wrestlers’ broken ears or the supporting cast; Sakshi Pradhan, Ritwik Sahore, Vivan Shah and an endearing debut by Aparshakti Khurana! The dialogues of the film are also cleverly written. The coach advises the young male opponent, chori hain, samajh ke ladiyo. The girl replies, bas chori samajh ke na ladiyo.

To wrap up, Dangal outdoes Chak De India, only because it’s based on a real story. A ‘poor’ father in Haryana resolves to train his ‘daughters’ in a patriarchal society fighting all odds is indeed inspiring. What’s even more beautiful is the film’s treatment. Not even once it melodramatizes Mahavir’s poverty or his struggles. Its subtle treatment makes Dangal a must watch. So please watch!

THE RATINGS MEAN:

5 stars: Loved it. (This could make to top ten movies you must watch before you die!)
4 stars: Liked it. Recommend it. (This will help you sound intellectual and give you stuff to add at water cooler conversations.)
3 stars: Didn’t hurt. Watch it once.
2 stars: It put me to sleep. Watch it if you are an insomniac or a newly wedded couple. Winks!
1 star: Do I even need to explain this?

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