Dangal

Vampire Owl: I am not that much into wrestling these days. Even though I do wrestle my own demons every day.

Vampire Bat: It is not that much of a wrestling if you look at it from another person’s perspective.

Vampire Owl: But they are good. They even breathe fire once in a week.

Vampire Bat: Why do they breathe fire inside your mind? Can’t they do it at better places?

Vampire Owl: They are my personal demons. They should wrestle at my place only.

Vampire Bat: You should ask Doctor Frankenstein to get a mind projector so that we all can know how the wrestling competition goes.

Vampire Owl: It should be banned in the castle due to the violence involved, so no Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: You surely got a violent mind there.

Vampire Owl: What can I do? It is in my blood because I drank the elixir of violence during our expedition to the Northern Kingdoms.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the right thing to drink is the elixir of life. This is a banned drink.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former wrestler and a national champion who lives in Balali, a village in Haryana. Despite being a very good wrestler who was better than most of the others around, he had to choose a fruitful job and leave the sport because his father asked him to do the same. But he still remembers the sport, and can beat almost every local champion – his love for wrestling is something that stays, and seems to be something which is forever. Now he does have a good job, but he is not satisfied with his achievements which doesn’t involve what he was so good at. When his wife Daya Shobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) gets pregnant, he declares that his unborn son is going to win the medal for the nation. The superstitious villagers come up with many ideas which would make sure that the child born will be male and not female, and Mahavir awaits the birth of the son who will make him proud.

So, what happens next? :: But things don’t go as planned, as despite trying different strange ideas brought by the village’s residents, Mahavir ends up having one girl after the other, making the total number as four. This leads to him having no more hope about the same, and goes on concentrating on his job as well as household activities. Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) are his eldest daughters, who get to live into his dreams, after they beat up the boys who make fun of them. As he realises that a medal is a medal and gold is gold, no matter whoever brings that, he begins training them hard. The girls have to start working hard early in the morning, and even has to cut their hair short, which bothers them in the beginning – they begs him to let them live their life like the other children, but ends up doing what he wants them to do, as he leaves them with no other choice.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It is the beginning of an adventure which will go and on, getting Mahavir closer and closer to his dreams through his two girls. The time when the girls were wrestling and defeating boys is over, as Geeta goes on to win the junior championships at the state and then the national level, finally getting to capture the national senior championship. It meant that she had to go to the National Sports Academy in Patiala to train with other girls from all around India for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. This changes things, as the coach at the academy, Pramod Kadam (Girish Kulkarni) doesn’t want Mahavir to influence Geeta anymore, and works hard to make sure that only his own methods are correct, and in no way will Geeta do according her father’s methods. Geeta gives in and follows her coach, as well as the other girls, spending their time eating fast food, watching silly romantic movies and having all kinds of fun. Deviating from the ways of her father, can Geeta make it big without her father, or will she find a way to balance everything on her way to gold?

The defence of Dangal :: Dangal is one of those sports drama movies which will save all the other sports from the evil onslaught of cricket which threatens to destroy each and every other sport in India. The Malayalam movie Godha also tries to do the same, as wrestling gets more than one movie to try and do the same. This is also relevant in the times when gender inequality, female foeticide and child marriage don’t intend to stop completely; it becomes even more relevant considering the part of India where this occurs. This is certainly bigger than Lagaan, not just because this is supporting an attention-seeking sport, but also because that inherent foolishness in that flick doesn’t show its head here; the superiority in comparison to M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is rather clear. For Aamir Khan, this should be one of his best performances too – he earlier had PK, and now he has this one, and not another Dhoom, which is indeed nice. When so many actors are playing safe, we have to appreciate the experimenting the man has been doing with not just his acting, but also the physique. Then there is the patriotic feeling, and we are left with the need for more gold of the nation.

The claws of flaw :: You will find that this movie is so much about the trainer rather than the wrestlers, despite the fact that the girls do some nice job. It is rather strange to see the progress of things here, as the tale here is also rather predictable. The idea of a father making his daughters do only what he wants them to do, doesn’t seem to be that good an idea in every case, and one has to wonder what would have happened if the training had failed – all things are nice when they are successful. Then there is Bollywood, bringing some melodrama with father’s love, as it has a history of bringing parents’ love to the next level of tears – with such a nice beginning, the emotions running around just misses the grip. The movie is also too lengthy, and has its slow moments which pull the flick right back. The climax is predictable, with the last minute win, with a memory of something from the father – it is where the realistic take will have only second place to the emotional addition of low level thrills.

How it finishes :: We already know how good Bollywood is with biographical drama, and there are so many examples of the same, from Neerja to the more fictionalised Rustom and Airlift which was even more acclaimed. It is more like the genre that saves Bollywood from the usual, repetitive stuff that it usually comes up with, adding some superstar to it. Dangal is no different, as it gets its strong emotional side to work in favour of the idea, and tells the tale of two sisters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari who go on to win medals at the Commonwealth Games, and their father Mahavir Singh Phogat who trains them. Dangal is very much successful in making the drama work, making it the highest grossing Indian movie of all-time, and also boasts of a great record overseas, especially in China. Well, most of the Bollywood movies go one way, and Dangal chooses another path, and among those movies which go the right way, this one is the flick that made the most impact. For more twisted of such divergent paths, there are Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Starring: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Aparshakti Khurana, Ritwik Sahore, Vivan Bhatena, Kaustubh Pile, Girish Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma, Meenu Prajapati, Badrul Islam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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