Starring: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Girish Kulkarni, Aparshakti Khurrana
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Produced by: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Siddharth Roy Kapur
Music by: Pritam
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures, Aamir Khan Productions, UTV Motion Pictures
Duration: 2 hours 41 minutes
Censor Rating: U
Dangal – Aamir’s Best Yet?
Given the release of Salman Khan’s Sultan and its smashing success, not many Bollywood stars would have queued up another wrestling themed film for release in 2016. But Aamir Khan is not just another Bollywood hero, is he? Dangal released today and by the looks of it, is slated to be one of Aamir’s best. Not for nothing is he called Mr. Perfectionist.
Let’s get our facts straight. Dangal is another one of the high budget (read INR 70 crore) movies that Kiran Rao co-produced and Aamir starred in. The leading man, however, seems to have attained a rare level of maturity for Bollywood heroes, when he both dishes out a stellar performance and allows co-stars to outshine him – both at the same time.
Dangal’s trailer release was a rather simplistic affair; no pretences about the story or the rather unglamorous, rural outlook of the plot. Certainly not a movie to expect glitzy song and dance routines from. What did get the curiosity of the audience perked up was the video (and ensuing debate) about Aamir’s physical transformation in the movie. From a well built wrestler to a flabby old man with a paunch. The promotional posts on Facebook and other social media sites revealed the transformation achieved by Aamir during the shoot. This certainly acted as a crowd puller by itself.
The story of Dangal is based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, the National level wrestler. It is also the story of aspiration and a sportsman’s one unassailable dream – the gold medal. But what happens when this very ambitious Haryanvi wrestler fails to make the gold? Like every Indian parent, he hopes to have a son who will fulfill his dreams. That hope is foiled when he has only daughters.
Mahavir Singh Phogat, however, is not the average Indian villager. There comes a time when he rises above rampant gender biases and decides that his daughters are just as good when it comes to carrying on his legacy. Dangal is the story of a father training his daughters to excel at a sport that is dominated by men.
Had Dangal ended here, it would have been the average run-of-the-mill Bollywood flick. Aamir Khan won’t have that, will he? Dangal is also the story of a daughter who outgrows her father and the familiar parental pain of letting go. Not very enchanted by the new fangled training methodology at the National Sports Academy in Patiala, Mahavir challenges his daughter Geeta. What ensues could be more important than the 2010 Commonwealth Games women’s wrestling event itself.
We have come to expect great acting from Aamir Khan, haven’t we? Be ready to be pleasantly surprised. The supporting stars may just have outshone the big man. Fatima Sana Shaikh’s depiction of the champion Geeta Phogat is a visual treat. It is clear that both Fatima and Sanya Bhatnagar (as Babita Phogat) have put in an enormous effort to get their wrestling techniques right. And Sakshi Tanwar has far outgrown her television soap star status. Her acting is both realistic and evocative. Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar impress as young Geeta and Babita.
Not only are the raw emotions of Dangal’s characters gripping, the visuals are stunning too. Sethu Sriram with his exemplary camerawork and Ballu Saluja as the editor are going to have a tough time outdoing their work in Dangal.
Dangal Music Review
There is no other way to put it – Pritam aces this one! Dangal’s music is a perfect mix of rustic charm and infused-with-enthusiasm Hindi film music – something that brings out one’s desire to dream big, go big, and yet stick to one’s roots. Pritam has been quite unpredictable, really, but it looks like these numbers will stick with us for a long time. Lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya has brought the essence of Haryanvi folk music into these songs.
Singers – Sarwar Khan & Sartaz Khan Barna, Saddy Ahmad (vocals – Kheta Khan, Dayam Khan)
Length – 4:22
Singer – Raftaar
Length – 2:56
Singer – Jonita Gandhi
Length – 3:40
Singer – Daler Mehandi
Length – 4:59
Singer – Arijit Singh
Length – 3:45
Dhaakad (Aamir Khan Version)
Singer – Aamir Khan
Length – 2:56
Singers – Nooran Sisters
Length – 4:08
Everything, we’d say. From great casting to emotive action, from mature directorial skills to superb editing, rustic down-to-earth music to fine cinematography, just about everything seems to work for Dangal. Or so the audience would say. We know that Bollywood flicks don’t work unless there are days and nights of toil and labour that go into them. Nitesh Tiwari perhaps set out to give each one of his audience their money’s worth. And achieved this end with elan.
What’s not to like? But if we must, we’d say that Dangal could have cut back on the in-your-face dialogues like “Agar apne pehalwano ko sher se bhi lada dega toh itne log nahi aayenge.” Isn’t Khan known for his subtlety and suggestions?
Aamir Khan does not come up with too many movies each year. He may have just found the perfect way to end 2016. So if you’ve waited with bated breath since the release of PK in 2014, to see your favourite star on the silver screen, head straight out and watch Dangal. Prepare to be awed by the lesser-known cast and the extraordinary effort put in by the technicians. As one popular newspaper says, “Demonetization be damned”, Dangal is a must watch.
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