The release of any Aamir Khan’s film is nothing less than a festival, and why wouldn’t it be, he is the most formidable and dependable actor whose films are ‘supposedly’ driven by the content. Though, I personally think, most of the times, the execution & screenplay of his films is punctured by the melodramatic tone and crowd-pleasing drama that reduces his films to commercial entertaining blockbusters. That is what happened with Aamir’s last film, PK, and Dangal is the latest victim of it. I am not implying that Dangal is a bad film, not at all; it is an immensely watchable film. A film that makes you laugh, cry and empathize with the characters all along but once the film is over, the characters don’t stay with you. Post watching the film, you might discuss it over ‘chai & sutta'(Tea & Smoke), but the memory of it fades away even before you reach home.

Aamir Khan preached about chasing one’s dream in 3 Idiots. While in ‘Dangal’, he fights against every social hindrance be it child-marriage, superstition, patriarchal outlook, and sexism to forcefully superimpose his own unfulfilled dream of winning gold for India in wrestling. It is quite hypocritical of us to root for Aamir Khan’s stubborn character, Mahavir Singh Phogat asking his first two elder daughters to become a wrestler, while we shrugged and dismissed our parents’ dream all our lives. But it was actually cute to see that Mahavir arranges for ‘Pani Puri’ one last time for his daughters, Geeta & Babita, before he starts rigorous training which was hard to survive. Neighbours, school- kids, village dwellers make fun of Geeta & Babita who are themselves not interested in learning the wrestling but Mahavir doesn’t bat an eye, while he slyly uproots all distracting elements to ensure that nothing hampers his determination to achieve his dream.

The real test of any sports film lies in the fact that how the entire story plays out on the screen in spite of us knowing how exactly it is going to end. Dangal doesn’t entirely disappoint as an engaging film even when it feels a little over-stretched. Nitesh Tiwari makes sure to fictionalised the drama that plays on audience’s heartstring. The greatest strength of Dangal lies in its unabashed & natural performances by the entire cast and well-choreographed wrestling scenes that feel as real as if watching a live match. So even when the entire second half starts to falter and we clearly see the forced drama injected in the screenplay making it uneven & sometimes cringe-worthy, it is impossible to take your eyes off from the screen. The earnest performances by all the four girls keep you glued to your seat. Unfortunately, Sakshi Tanwar’s understated performance is overshadowed by the rest of the cast. The convincing work of the entire cast clouds the over-stretched scenes which usually makes the audience restless.

Dangal takes a jibe on the sexist issue and hits the right note on the girl power. It is quite interesting to see how patriarchal thinking of Mahavir proves to be a boon for his daughter, which doesn’t come out of choice but the circumstances. The inspirational story is thin and is decorated on a surface level with all the essential elements of a sports biopic drama. Nitesh Tiwari plays it safe and never tries to layer the drama and make it subtle. Even in the climax scene, Nitesh goes full throttle with the dose of over-sentimentality and ends on the heart-warming note. Though it does not work entirely for me, Dangal is still a good film that should be seen.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté


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