Dangal – ‘Seamless digital take on women uplift’


Spoilers ahead…

The film opens with Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) watching Seoul Olympics, in a television, in his office. In a casual manner, he verbally anguishes over the sad state of affairs of people not patronizing wrestling enough. His brief monologue remains as a preaching to deaf ears. Listening to Singh, a guy who has just joined the office takes pot-shots at him. Mahavir level-headedly takes jibe at the guy. Provoked by the remarks, the guy offers an attitudinal invitation to him for a short wrestle. A win in the wrestling bout comes as a cakewalk to Mahavir. Having been defeated, the guy arrogantly reveals his credentials as the former state level champion wrestler. To which, Mahavir placates the guy by letting him know what sort of a wrestler he was.

The above sequence of events proffers a perfect kick-start to the movie. Because, it pretty much summarizes the intactness of the burning passion in Mahavir towards wrestling. In fact, this burning passion is what that remains the crux of Dangal. One might coin the movie as being simplistic, realistic and predictable. The point is inarguably true. But, what is equally inarguable in Dangal is its seamless and sequential screenplay. Various sequences of scenes take one phase of the movie’s primary characters’ life at a time and play them out in an engaging manner. But, in most of such sequences, beyond a particular point, we mentally clamor for a turn-around. Surprisingly, we get a turn-around. It might seem exaggerated to say that the director does a live reading of the audience’s mind at such moments.

Few instances to share in this regard:

Firstly, Mahavir feels, having a male child, would be handy for him to groom and suffice his dream of winning gold in wrestling for the country. But, what he ends up with are 4 daughters. Mahavir feels his dreams are shuttered once and for all. What we look forward here in the screenplay is for a turn-around. We get one. Indeed, a funny one.

Secondly, we get to see the daughters of Mahavir (Geeta and Babita) unwillingly succumbing to the relentless training sessions of their father (Not to forget an emotional scene, amidst such tiring sessions, where Aamir enacts, Mahavir’s imbalanced oscillations between that of a caring father and an unrelenting coach, by holding onto one of his daughter’s feet). We get entertained with the dark humor sequences for a while. But, there needs to be an end to this sequence. In other words, there needs to be a progress in the screenplay. We expect a turn-around. We get one. This time, it is an emotional one.

Thirdly, post an unfavorable incident, Mahavir and Geeta, go for a ‘not on speaking terms’ for a while. During such times, a kind of ‘Gap’ gets created not only between the father and daughter; but also between Geeta and her victory in the wrestling bouts. At this point of time, we expect an occasion that breaks the silence between the father and daughter and the father to guide his daughter to march towards victory in wrestling. Now, we get an intense and an emotional conversation between the father and daughter, over a phone call.

Fourthly, we get to see Geeta tasting success in the wrestling bouts, predominantly by depending on the live motivation and the guidance of her father. Now, one might expect, ‘When is this girl going to write her history all by herself?’ We get to witness the answer towards the movie’s finale.

Fifthly and finally, while watching the last wrestling bout in the movie, one can apparently anticipate that the result is going to be on a positive note. But, how a father who is in a disconcerting situation gets to realize, via implicit means, that his dream has been fulfilled? The answer did really make most of the audience stand for a while and render a salute. Can this reciprocation of respect by the audience be seen as a response as a result of their emotional connect with the situation of the movie or can this gesture be seen as a mark of respect and a red carpet welcome to the concept of women uplift that has been touched upon in the movie? Only the course of time could render an answer to this question.


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