Amir Khan delivers career best performance along with the supporting cast who shines in this beautiful tale of sacrifice, dedication and achieving your goals at all cost.
When Sultan came earlier this year, I was a bit confused with all the praise it was getting. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a decent movie, but not the kind of great which I was hoping for after going through all the critical applause it was getting. First of all, I never could digest the idea that Sultan achieves all its glory just to impress a girl. I mean what really drives the wrestlers to compete at the highest tournaments. I don’t think the sole motivation there is to impress a girl. Secondly, Aarfa i.e Anushka leaves everything so that Sultan can achieve what she was supposed to get, even though 2 months later it was all our girls who were shining throughout the Olympics. (Disclaimer: This is not a Sultan review, bear with me please, I am trying to make a point).
So last night when I saw Dangal, I realized what was missing in Sultan. A clear motivation to achieve the Gold for your country and it was the girls who were shining not the other way around.
The movie opens with Mahavir Singh Phogat (Amir Khan) already a National Champion turned government servant wanting to have a son so that he can bring the gold for his country. The scenes here are funny when the whole town gives suggestions to Mahavir and his wife Daya (Sakshi Tanwar) on how to get a son. Instead, he is blessed with daughter’s every time.
But one day he realizes that his daughters are not like some average next daughters. This starts the beginning of rigorous training which involves leaving gol gappas and even the things most precious to the girls, their Hair. This leads to small rebellion in the family until one day the girls realize that their Fathers intentions are for their own good. Now determined and focused, the sisters transform from girls to the state champions.
Geeta & Babita played by debutante’s Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar is amazing here. Zaira Wasim has a tough task because she has to wrestle against boys. Ritwik Sahore as the cousin Onkar is also excellent as he is the one who provides the comical moments in the first half. In fact, the first half finished so fast that you will be amazed that you are halfway through the movie.
But the kids do grow up pretty quickly and hence they have to leave their small village to join the Academy in the city. The city life offers things which village life can’t. Boys, Makeup, Glamorous lifestyle can take away the focus of a person. Which is what starts happening with Geeta when she is introduced to this new lifestyle by fellow sportswomen (who tells Geeta, Shahrukh ko Kabhi na nahin bolte, along with the tribute to the iconic “Palat” from DDLJ). A new coach at the academy introduces Geeta to a new style of playing, which is opposed to what her father used to teach her. A very touching and emotional scene comes when the Father and the Daughter wrestle it out just to prove whose technique is better. A high-minded Geeta’s dreams come crashing down when she starts losing on the big stage and that’s when Father again comes to the rescue.
Mahavir ultimately devises the action plan to improve Geeta’s technique. This ultimately leads to the finale at the Commonwealth Games, 2010 where Geeta must learn to fight without his father.
This is Amir’s show all along who plays the obsessive father with utmost dedication and conviction. As it is evident in most of his movies, Amir shines the most in his emotional scenes, especially the ones where he realizes that his techniques might have become obsolete with changing times and he might lose his daughters to the lavish lifestyle and new coach of the city. Even though we know that the Father is a part dictator, you end up sympathizing with him and his techniques, which is only because of Amir’s sincerity in playing legendary Mahavir Phogat. Much of the second half is focused on Geeta Phogat’s wrestling matches and it’s upon Fatima Sana Shaikh’s shoulders where much of the responsibility lies and she is amazing in these matches. The best part about this section is that the matches do not look scripted and the viewer gets immersed in the proceedings. The matches are shown in their entirety and not marred by the unnecessary use of slow motion. You can feel the pain when the wrestlers fall face first. These matches are shot so well that you feel that you might be watching the live telecast of the matches. Rest of the cast, Sanya Malhotra as the grownup Babita, Mahavir’s wife Daya played by Sakshi Tanwar, the supportive cousin played by Aparshakti Khurana and evil coach played by Girish Kulkarni are incredible and provide their own flavors to the characters.
A great trend which is now evident in today’s filmmaking is that young upcoming directors are not afraid to pick up unconventional stories and are more focused on telling a compelling story. This year it was clearer with the movies such as Raja Krishna Menon’s Airlift, Ram Madhvani’s Neerja and now Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal. These filmmakers are willing to take a risk and do not want to take the typical romantic filmmaking route. And Nitesh must be complimented to stage such breathtaking wrestling matches.
Towards the end, it might look too filmy but the story and sincerity win your heart. Watch it for committed performance and exceptional story.