If people are not laughing at your goals, then your goals are too small – Azim Premji
Ask Mahavir Singh Phogat what his dream is and he will reply – ensure that his daughter wins a gold medal for India in wrestling. And assuredly, everybody considers this the joke of the day. As villages roll over themselves with laughter, Mahavir Singh scolds and disciplines, taunts and derides, as his two daughters prepare to be wrestlers in a tiny hamlet in Haryana.
And just as the villagers wipe their tears and catch their sides, Mahavir’s two daughters go to the next village to compete in a wrestling fight. With boys. And predictably, his daughter loses. But not before everyone has been shocked out of their stupor.
As they say, the rest is history.
Smarting from a defeat at the hand of a boy, Geeta Phogat now starts pushing her father to take her to the next fight. There is no looking back as she goes on to win the National Sub-Junior and the Junior Championship. Along with her sister Babita Phogat, they turn Indian wrestling on its head and grab golds and silvers in international matches. Geeta even qualifies for the Rio Olympics, the first ever Indian female wrestler to do so.
Geeta and Babita, along with their sister Ritu and cousin Vinesh have bought international fame for India. The Hindi movie DANGAL captures skillfully and effortlessly the enormous struggle they face as they catapult to fame, not just themselves, but also a sport that India (and Indians) are not too good at.
So what is so amazing about the movie? Apart from this inspiring true story? In two words – Aamir Khan.
I have alternated between idolizing Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan since 1988. As a teenager, I was caught between SRK’s Fauji and Aamir Khan’s Qayamat Se….. Coincidentally, both happened in 1988. After Dilwale (DDLJ) the scale had tilted in favor of SRK, but then Dil Chahta Hai happened and I was hooked firmly to Aamir Khan’s starry career.
After Lagaan, Three Idiots, Dhoom 3, and of course PK, I was ensconced in Aamir’s camp. No more wavering. And now after watching Dangal (twice as of January 7, 2017), I am going to die as an Aamir Khan fan. The following three scenes/scenarios are simply too good and worth watching over and over again…(keep them in mind when you watch the movie).
- The advice villagers give Aamir Khan on how to ensure his wife gives birth to a son
- The advice that Geeta and Babita’s friend, who is about to be married off as a child bride to a groom twenty years her senior, gives to them about learning to enjoy wrestling and appreciating the effort their father is taking for them
- The advice that Mahavir gives Geeta after watching clips that show how she consistently lost first round matches
What was sensational about Aamir Khan? Was it that he put on 25 kilos over 6 months? Was it his effortless acting as Mahavir Singh? Was it the way he learnt and portrays wrestling moves? Was it the way he single-handedly moves the script along?
All of that. But the magic potion is the way he sinks into the character of a father who wants his daughters to succeed against all odds. And mighty odds they are. I have written before of the politics involved in sports, and the lack of sportsmanship. Of course, what my daughters face in table tennis is the tip of the iceberg. Mahavir’s daughters face every obstacle possible before they come up trumps. I love the way Aamir Khan portrays this unshakeable belief that his daughters will succeed, no matter what. With restraint, class, and an unimaginable sense of humor (which creeps up suddenly every now and then!), Aamir Khan shows every one that he is a cut above the rest. In every way possible.
So why should you watch the movie? Watch it for the acting, the songs, the wrestling lessons, the setting, the story, the script, the acting, the songs, the…….you get it. Now stop reading this, and book that ticket.
My review? 5 out of 5 stars. And if you want to compare, I would give Lagaan and Chak De a 4.5 out of 5. That is how good this movie is. And Aamir Khan.