Based on the real life story of a pretty extra-ordinary man, his extra-ordinary daughters and one slightly extra-ordinary nephew, this is a sports movie with a difference. Most sports movies in India do not place too much emphasis on the technique of that sport. A boxer can get away with simply putting on Satin shorts and tap dancing in the ring. But the sports choreography and cinematography of the wrestling sequences in this film is brilliant to say the least! And that’s what places this film several notches above most Indian sports films.
If you have seen the trailer, then you know that this is about a fanatical father who imposes his dreams unto his daughters, becomes haanikarak for them and then inspires them to win gold medals for India. Now, I have read in some places that this is the ultimate misaal of chauvinism, where the father imposes his dreams onto his daughters and just because everything turns out right in the end, doesn’t mean his abuse was right.
Right and wrong. Everything has a context. Before judging the man, we should understand the time and the place he did it in. Fighting the entire system and societal norms is not easy, and even though it had a selfish motive, his heart was always in the right place. He saw potential in his kids and set out to realize it. What we also forget is that his kids started liking the sport and hence their training continued. So yes, this is a story worth telling. The Williams sisters’ tale is very similar, but just imagine if they were in Haryana where the Khap Panchayat believes that having Manchurian causes rapes!
Now, let’s talk about the film. It starts off a little weakly, as the sequences are unevenly edited and the dialogues lack punch. But half an hour into the film, it starts gaining momentum with little Geeta getting into bouts with flustered boys. While Aamir goes on with his duty of captaining the ship like a champ, the young girls steal your heart with their innocence. And then there is the boy who does the narration, Phogat’s nephew! He infuses life into the film and binds it together with his endearing one liners. The second half, has some really powerful scenes with the father-daughter relationship hitting a nadir and then getting back on track. Even the bouts, though detailed, are thoroughly entertaining. The amount of effort the girls – both Jr. and Sr. have put in the fight sequences is phenomenal. Hats off to them.
Yes, the film has its flaws. The villain in this film is poorly manufactured. When you have a good actor like Girish Kulkarni, it is criminal to not define his character properly. He is the weakest link in the film and his final shadyantra in the film seems utterly forced.
All in all, this is a movie worth showing your family. It is a sports film, but it is also about the dangal between an ambitious father and his rebellious daughter. You will laugh, cry, get bored but also feel inspired. The range of emotions it taps into is what makes the film a winner. And then there is Aamir, who never looks like the hero, but is very much the life of the film. He lets the girls take over and watches them from the sidelines. It is amazing how he allows the other characters to come to the fore in his films and restrains himself from always overshadowing everyone. That’s what really sets him apart. Plus, his body transformation is the stuff of legends. Go watch it. It’s worth the weight ( gain and loss)!