‘Dangal’ is a biopic starring Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Sheikh Suhani Bhatnagar, Zaira Wasim Ritvik Sahore, Girish Kulkarni, Aparshakti Khurrana and Vivian Bhatena. The sports drama, directed by Nitish Tiwari, tells the story of former wrestling champion Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trains his daughters, Geeta and Babita as world class wrestlers who bring laurels to the country.
Mahavir Singh Phogat hails from Haryan’s Balali and is a national champion in wrestling, but is forced to quit the sport due to financial pressure and his dream of winning a gold for the country remains incomplete. But he is hopeful that his son will fulfil his desire of bringing a gold medal for the nation. However, his wife Daya (Sakshi Tanwar) gives birth to four girls and he finds his hopes shattered. But one day Mahavir learns that his two elder daughters Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar) have beaten up some neighbourhood bullies which makes him realise that these two girls have it in them. Gold is gold and it doesn’t matter whether a son or daughter wins it, he says and begins training his initially reluctant daughters. But they soon get into the groove and become proficient in the sport, but Mahavir’s battle is far from over as he has to fight the prejudice that girls are not meant to wrestle. So, Geeta and Babita have to settle for grappling with boys, beating the best trained men and finally winning at the international arena, their strict and stubborn, yet sensitive and supportive father looking over them throughout. In between, differences also crop up between Mahavir and his daughter Geeta (Fatima), which hurts the father while affecting her performance inside the arena.
Geeta and Babita Kumari’s accomplishments in the sport is well known, and so the movie doesn’t provide any surprise elements. But it brings to light what hardships and obstacles the girls and their father had to face, like going against societal norms and breaking preconceived notions that wrestling is only for men. It also touches upon the apathy of administration towards the sport and the attitude of wrestling federations, but subtly, primarily focussing on the father-daughters’ journey and their emotional turmoil. The movie carries a strong message about the conservative society’s obsession for male child and biased treatment between sons and daughters. Narrated from the stand point of Mahavir’s nephew Omkar (Aparshakti Khurrana), his voiceover brings in the humour in the movie, as he too as a child had to undergo training with his cousins and their ‘haanikarak bapu’. The film also leaves one with a patriotic feeling, especially when the National Anthem plays.
As for the performances, Aamir Khan has put in his blood and sweat to play his character and has done complete justice. He is not called Mr. Perfectionist for nothing. His Haryanvi accent is also spot on, and is great as the ageing, emotional father. His dratic transformation for the role has been much-talked-about. Newcomer Fatima as the grown up Geeta is also very impressive. She has a lot of wrestling sequences which she pulls off with ease. These scenes are well-choreographed and look realistic. Sanya, who plays the grown-up version of Babita, doesn’t get much to do, but makes her presence felt, and very well at that. Even Zaira and Suhani, along with Ritvik Sahore, who plays the younger version of Omkar, hold their own amidst a big star like Aamir Khan. Sakshi Tanwar is also a perfect fit for her role and she emotes very well.
At 20-minutes-less-than-three-hours, ‘Dangal’ may seem long, but it is a well-packaged film and keeps the audience engaged right from the start to its end. Undoubtedly, one of the best films of the year, and perhaps Aamir’s best performance ever.