Movie with Shane: Dangal
By Shane J Alliew
Let’s be honest about it, I have not watched a wrestling match in my entire life and for the love of anything, I really would not be motivated to do so under any circumstances. But that was until I saw Dangal. Now I would, especially women wrestling and if it’s an Indian then so much the better.
That’s the kind of effect Nitesh Tiwari’s film running at 161 minutes will have on you. It storms you into a vortex of emotions (not the cry, run around trees type) and cyclones you into the thick of action so much so you begin to wonder that you are actually up, close and personal, watching a wrestling match, the making of successful women wrestlers and in the last few minutes of the film, nail-biting.
Well there is only a single logic to this madness for perfection, Aamir Khan. No matter whatever his critics say about him, the man has been the greatest boon to Bollywood, not only in terms of the moolah his films rake in but also in terms of stories in an otherwise dry industry.
The story is of Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan), once upon a time national level wrestler from Haryana who could not make it further because his father tells him “wrestling does not get bread upon the table” and he gives it up for a clerical job in a dingy government office.
A sad but brutal reality, especially in the Indian scenario where even medal earners, end up as vegetable vendors, or so are we to believe Social Media. Does it happen in next door China? You already know the answer. Well, if this is the case with male sportsmen, forget females ever even being allowed to think about taking up a serious career in sports!
But this is exactly what Mahavir challenges- in his words he looked for his unfulfilled dream and legacy to be continued/ taken up by a son, but because he has four daughters his life seems unfulfilled. That’s lesson number one which dawns so smoothly and conveniently upon him that an international gold in wrestling is an international gold, does it actually matter if you son wins it or you daughter?
Very clever Mr. Khan and salutations to you, for the lesson is more for an audience that sits tights in their seats with ice-cream and popcorn and coke and are then shaken into the rude reality of life: women are not objects of desire any longer and they will not succumb to the mistreatment which they have be subjected to for centuries. They are here to be, in fact, first among equals.
The strength of the story lies in the fact that both Nitesh and Aamir are very well researched and it shows in the script. If anyone tells you that Aamir does not have an invisible hand in all his scripts, that’s pure storytelling, because he does, being the perfectionist he is.
Geeta (Fatima Sana Sheikh and the younger version by Zaira Wasim) and Babita (Sanya Malhotra, the younger version Suhani Bhatnagar), his screen daughters are the best finds this year. They completely fit into the role and there in not an iota of doubt that the girls have put in huge amounts of effort, to get every move of theirs correct.
From beginning their cruel training, to fighting the boys in the dangal to standing up to break every stereotype; the girls have done it all, with perfect emotions sans the paani puri and pickles they have to sacrifice.
Sakshi Tanvar as their mother is just as ease as she would be in any traditional house, perhaps her own as she is with the mega star Aamir. I think this is the strength Nitesh discovered in her and had his decision made to cast her even before he had approached Aamir with the script. It paid off, hugely!
The girls do win medals, in reality and otherwise, for Dangal is no mean treat; it’s perfection personified and an enormous kick to women empowerment. Kudos team Dangal and Khan, you have proved your point yet once again and will have this nation thinking once again!