There’s no drama like wrestling – Andy Kaufmann
STORY : True life story of Indian Olympics wrestling coach, Mahavir Singh Phogat who coached two of his daughters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari to international glory in the same sport.
WARNING : SPOILERS GALORE !!!
Right from the very first scene where a relatively young Aamir and a colleague at work literally turn the office into a wrestling ka ‘Akhaada’ DANGAL goes for the jugular and hardly lets go. The challenge for the writers (and there are four of them no less) is to make the cliched interesting for the audience knows exactly how things are going to pan out. And it must be said that the screenplay is the best we have seen in a Hindi film all year round. Which is why not once during the running time of a 161 minutes does the film ever lag. The state of Haryana that is infamous for it’s male dominated society makes for the perfect backdrop. Credit must also go to the makers for their style of narration where they make scathing comments on the chauvinistic attitude of the people and the apathy of sports officials in a lighter vein without ever getting overbearing. Case in point being the scene where Aamir watches his daughter’s wrestling videos in a soft porn movie parlour.
Lensman Sethu Sriram has done good to middling work in both the South and Hindi films with the Paresh Rawal starrer OMG – OH MY GOD being his last Hindi film. Nothing earth shattering thus far. But having worked as assistant to Maniratnam DANGAL was perhaps the chance that he was waiting for. As much as one loves the soundtrack set to tune by the maverick Pritam (who rocked earlier this year with Karan Johar’s AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL) it is the superb lyrics by the gifted Amitabh Bhattacharya that takes the music of DANGAL to another level. Be it the rustic yet boisterous ‘Dhaakkad’ the awe inspiring title song rendered in the inimitable style of Daler Mehndi or best of them all the tongue-in-cheek ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’ each song is a treat to listen as much as it is to watch on the big screen.
The supporting cast has done it’s bit and very well too. The two young girls Zaira Wasim as young Geeta and Suhani Bhatnagar as young Babita are incredibly spontaneous and a treat to watch. Sanya Malhotra plays the older Babita Kumari with just the right amount of sincerity. Sakshi Tanwar plays Aamir’s wife and does what is expected of her. Aparshakti Khurana (the more famous Ayushman’s own brother) who plays the cousin of the two wrestler girls is very endearing and brings much needed comic relief every time things get too heavy. National award winning Marathi actor Girish Kulkarni plays the arrogant wrestling coach who just cannot get along with Aamir’s character perfectly. Every time he appears on screen, you want to just smack him.
After Aamir, the biggest role is of Fatima Sana Shaikh (the child actor from Kamal Hassan’s CHACHI 420) who plays Geeta Phogat. Eerily similar looking to Priyanka Gandhi (down to the dimples)hers is a superlative performance that is pitch perfect
andher wrestling bouts in the second half are quite astounding. Watch her angrily wrestle and take downAamir Khan in an intense scene or break down on the phone later while talking to him realising her mistake and you know that an actress has arrived. The spine of DANGAL is Aamir Khan. Be it as the merciless guru who gets the long tresses of his daughters chopped off because they are a distraction or the father who massages their feet while they are sleeping at night this is Aamir at his subtle best. Long after the film has ended the image of a middle aged, pot bellied Aamir standing with his back to us with his hands folded behind stays with you.
Director Nitesh Tiwari’s filmy career so far has been Good (CHILLAR PARTY – Co Director) Bad (BHOOTNATH RETURNS – Director) and Ugly (KILL DIL – Writer) Not exactly impeccable credentials. So it must have taken some doing to convince Aamir Khan to sign on the dotted line. Movies on sports (LAGAAN – Cricket, CHAK DE INDIA – Hockey, MARY KOM – Boxing & BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG – Athletics) are not easy to make but since they usually tell the tale of an underdog winning against insurmountable odds, they are sure to work in a big way. As long as they are made well. And in DANGAL there are a number of wrestling scenes each one breathtakingly shot. The first time a young Geeta fights valiantly and loses to a boy in the first half and her semifinal match against the Nigerian opponent in the second half are the pick of these. DANGAL is also a tribute to girl power. Sample the climax where we all know that Geeta will get that 5 pointer to win. Yet by taking Aamir out of the equation, Tiwari makes it special. And just for effect adds that national anthem bit.
Dangal movie Trailer