The Santa is back with his Christmas release! Aamir Khan, in his latest ‘inflated’ avatar in ‘Dangal’ is a delight to watch, more so when the entire film revolves around him, despite being about a girl’s triumph in the male-dominated wrestling.
This is precisely what makes Nitesh Tiwari’s ‘Dangal’ hatke from your regular sportsperson biopics riddled with clichés of being ridiculed at first and celebrated at last. ‘Dangal’, too, suffers from the template-trappings of a sports saga, but it does something that no other Indian sports film bothered about: It educates you on the sport it revolves around.
As for performances, Sanya Malhotra and Zaira Wasim are first rate as the younger versions of Geeta and Babita Phogat. Fatima Sana Shaikh takes up the challenging role of Geeta Phogat with the confidence of a pro and shines through the film, especially the wrestling scene with Aamir Khan, where she had to emote through her fighting prowess rather than histrionics. Suhani Bhatnagar’s role remains unexplored and is reduced to a supporting actor. Sakhsi Tanwar makes her presence in every frame she appears in. Aparshakti Khurana adds humour quotient to the otherwise serious film.
As for Aamir Khan, the actor transforms himself not only physically, but also emotionally for his role of a National-level wrestler who gives up his dreams for a steady job and pins his hopes for a male child who would make his unfulfilled dreams come true. There is not a single scene where Aamir makes you feel you are watching ‘The Aamir Khan’. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I would assert that Aamir reminds one of Tom Hanks, the chameleon of an actor who metamorphoses into the character he portrays.
The young version of Aamir Khan is mercilessly chopped off on the editing table. One would have loved to watch more of him in the action, rather than just the potbellied Mahavir. The character of Mahavir Phogat seems like customized for Aamir Khan, who is a perfectionist and always correct.
Pardon the cynicism, but one could recall the scene from ‘3 Idiots’, where Boman Irani’s character affirms, “You cannot always be right, Rancho!” Wish there were few such moments where Mahavir’s character, too falters and lets him ‘Being Human’ ala Sultan in which the lead character has a grey streak to him.
The tug of war between traditional and modern coaching could have been given benefit of doubt. Perhaps Geeta Phogat’s character, brilliantly portrayed by Fatima Sana Shaikh, could have proved her father wrong at some point of time. Girish Kulkarni’s character as the modern coach appears caricature, despite the actor’s nuanced performance.
The film’s climax is the final nail in the coffin, where the writers Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Meharotra seem to have run out of ideas and come up with something such inane. It reduces Geeta Phogat’s character as a mere puppet at the hands of her father.
Even when he isn’t present, she goes into a flashback and derives the desperately-needed gyaan. Barring such hiccups, ‘Dangal’ is one of the finest films of 2016 and takes the sports film genre notches above, especially after ‘Chak De! India’, ‘MS Dhoni’, and the underrated gem, ‘Saala Khadoos’. Agreed, the film is a biopic but it surely doesn’t stick to actual incidents and takes creative liberties, even in the finale.
The music by Pritam and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya lend the film’s narration a seamless flow, especially the songs, ‘Dangal’, ‘Haanikarak Bapu’, ‘Dhakad’ and ‘Naina’. Go for it folks, ‘Dangal’ is Dhaakad!