Aamir Khan goes for gold in 2016. After Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh, he delivers the finest performance of the year and his career’s best. His dedication to perfection is synonymous to his being but the physical transformation he went through for the character, at this age is commendable. Staunch, fiery, intimidating and a man of few words, wrestler Mahaveer Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) dreams of winning a gold for his country. He wants to live the dream through his son. But life has planned otherwise. After four daughters, he gives up on his dream. Until few years later, when Phogat sees hope again. The hope of living the dream through his elder two daughters – Gita and Babita. Dangal is a journey of a father and his daughters of realising this dream. But the film is bigger than that.
Mainstream Hindi cinema is broadly, meaningless entertainment. It’s money over content. So when a superstar like Aamir (one of the few you can expect it from) takes up an idea that not only promises entertainment but raises important questions, you know it’s a step up for our cinema. And while Aamir has been doing his bit to deliver meaningful cinema, this is a rarely talked about subject in our films. And one that needed attention. Dangal challenges our regressive mindset towards women and turns it on its head. In a male-dominated society, it ridicules the gap between the privileged pedestal we put men on and the disparaging position we give our women.
The two girls, Gita (played by Zaira Wasim and Sana Shaikh) and Babita (played by Suhani Bhatnagar and Sanya Malhotra) are a find. Their cousin Omkar (Aparshakti Khurana), who also narrates the film, is a perfect addition to the ensemble. His voice assumes a character of its own, enriching the storytelling experience. (I was hardly surprised to know he is a radio jockey and actor Ayushmann Khurana’s brother). A fine artist, Aparshakti brings the necessary comic relief.
Dangal is a brilliantly-written film executed equally finely on screen.
Director Nitesh Tiwari is in complete control here. The film stays true to its core it sets out to achieve, nowhere meandering needlessly to pander to the gallery. And yet entertains. It’s briskly paced and there isn’t a dull moment in the film. Dangal raises the bar for sport films made in our country.
The second half, that holds most of the action, is particularly adrenaline pumping. It makes you forget it’s a film. You’re rooting for the two girls throughout but the latter half is to, particularly, look out for. Even for a non-sports person like me, the film had me hooked and rooting for our girl Sana Shaikh. She did undergo an eight-month training for the role but gave me a hard time believing the final matches weren’t for real. Dangal is the new gold standard for sports films in India (alongside Chak De).
I wonder how and how many award functions Aamir Khan is going to try escape this year? This is your year, Aamir!