Months back when Salman Khan's Sultan had released, there had been reports that Aamir Khan is worried about his upcoming film Dangal as it too revolves around wrestling. However, after watching the film last night, I am sure that the reports were the products of idle and malicious minds for Aamir has absolutely nothing to worry about concerning his product, which is easily one of the best films to have come out this year.
Based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his two daughters Geeta and Babita, Dangal kick-starts in the dusty bylanes of Balali, Haryana, where Mahavir, a former wrestler longs for a son to win medals for the country. However, destiny has other plans for Phogat and the plucky wrestler is blessed with four girls. When his daughters Geeta and Babita beat up local bullies, Mahavir realises that his daughters have wrestling in their blood and promptly starts training them, much to their initial reluctance.
The rest of the film follows the journey of Mahavir, Geeta and Babita as the father's training takes his daughters from the dusty akhadas of Haryana to the arena of international wrestling.
At the outset, what impressed me about the film was its humour. Dangal is the kind of film, which a regular filmmaker would have handled with sobriety, but Nitesh Tiwari impressed me by tackling the film with a light touch and inserting humour in the narrative. The humorous voice-over (Mahavir's nephew Omkar narrates the story), which will have you in splits, is certainly one of the highlights of the film.
Aamir Khan is not known as the Perfectionist for nothing and the man will impress you with his portrayal of Mahavir, but this film doesn't belong to him alone, though it is evident that he has put his blood and sweat into the role. This time, he has four other co-stars to almost overshadow him in places. The two girls Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, who plays younger Geeta and Babita and Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra, who play grown up Geeta and Babita, will win your hearts with their performance.
All the girls are newcomers (with the possible exception of Fatima, who has acted in a few movies in the past), but it will never cross your mind while watching the film. I should also mention Aparshakti Khurrana (Ayushmann Khurrana's brother, for those who do not know), who plays Mahavir's supportive nephew Omkar and Sakshi Tanwar, who plays Mahavir's wife. Both these actors have lent able support and we hope to see them in more movies in the near future.
As for the film itself, though it is somewhat lengthy, it promises to be an inspiring watch. Thankfully, the makers have not inserted any romantic tracks for the heck of it and have focused on the Phogat family and their battle with gender discrimination and apathy towards sports in India.
Dangal is humorous, inspiring, touching and realistic in the right places. Sport films about underdogs have always worked well in India as well as in Hollywood and when backed by powerful performances, solid writing and well-choreographed sport sequences (the wrestling sequences will have you on the edge of your seats and biting your fingernails for sure), there is no reason why a film will not work, demonetisation be damned!
Ladies and gentlemen, think no further and book your tickets at the earliest!