Cast: Aamir Khan (Mahavir) Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Shaikh Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatangar
Director: Nitesh Tawari
Genre(s): biographical Sport drama film
My reason for writing this review is that I loved the message of this movie and wanted to forward it to all those fathers and daughters who are fighting gender discrimination.
Dangal (English: Wrestling Competition)
Is an extraordinary true story based on the life of Mahavir Singh and his two daughters, Geeta and Babita Phogat. The film traces the inspirational journey of a father who challenges the norms of society and trains his daughters to become world class wrestlers.
On the 21 of December, I opened my laptop and started searching for the theaters that were playing this wonderful movie. I had already seen the trailer therefore, I was impatiently waiting for it. I was searching for the movie and noticed that the nearby theaters were full and tickets were sold out, however, I still found a cinema which was approximately 30 minutes drive from my place. I decided to go there. I don’t drive so I called up a friend and we decided to go together and watch the movie. When we reached the theater, we had 10 minutes until the movie starts. I went to use those 10 mints and grape a pocket of Popcorn when I went to buy popcorn, unfortunately; the machine was not working. Awwww what a turnoff.
Anyways, finally we checked in the hall and the movie started. I have divided my review of the movie in fours phase and they are as followed.
The first phase of the movie: Desperate Wish For Having Son
In the first phase of the movie, you see a father Mahair who is a wrestling lover and used to play wrestling but due to poor economic circumstances he was forced to give up with wrestling and obtain gainful employment to feed his family. He was unable to win a gold medal for India and vowed that his son will. So, he desperately wished to have a son. He tried all those methods, tips and anything that could have help them to have a son, however, instead he became a father of four girls. When his fourth daughter was born, He was disappointed and gave up his dream thinking that girls cannot wrestle and should only be taught household chores. But when his older daughters, Geeta and Babita come home after beating up two boys in response to derogatory comments the joy on Mahavir face was incredible. That was the moment he realized that “Gold is a gold whether a girl brings it or a boy does”
Second Phase: Fighting Stereotypes and Prejudices
When Mahavir realized that his daughters have the potential to be wrestlers, he begin coaching his two elder daughters Geeta and Babita. He behaved more like a coach than a father. His methods seem harsh which included early morning workouts, limitation on food, strict diet, short haircuts to avoid lice. During the practice, Geeta and Babita faces a lot of unpleasant comments by the society and her classmate since according to the stereotypes wrestling is for boys not girls. Geeta and Babita were not happy to be wrestlers and thought that their father has been very unfair to them but when they see the struggle he faces and how hard it is for him to challenge all traditions by breaking all rules and making his daughters chase his dream they realised that their father wants them to have a future and not grow up to be stereotypical housewives. Seeing this the girls become motivated and Mahavir takes the girls to wrestling tournaments.
Third Phase- Mahavir’s Dream Came True
In the third phase, Mahvir sends Geeta to an institute in Patiala for further training in order to participate in the Commonwealth Games. The training coach of this institute was very rude and egoistic. He trains Geeta differently than her father did. Since Geeta was getting training in a bigger institution she thought her coach techniques are better, updated and that her father’s technique are of old styles. Geeta makes friends at the institute and begins to disregard the discipline she has been brought up with. She ignores her died, grows her hair and watches TV.
During the break, Geeta visits her home. Mahavir does not appreciate the new look of Geeta but he does no say anything to her. During the time at home, he wanted Geeta to practice so she is prepared enough for the big matches. When she begins practicing her father feels that she is not as good as she used to be. This leads to an argument between Geeta and her father and Geeta decides to challenge her father that her new techniques are better than his. so they decided to have a match. During the match, Mahavir tried his best yet lost against Geeta not due to his old technique but his age. Her younger sister Babita tells Geeta that it was not right to challenge her father, she also reminds her that it is because of their father that she is where she is now.
When Geeta returns back to the institute she was expected to participate in all matches. Everyone had high expectations from her since she was among the best players but instead of winning she finds herself losing every match. Her sister Babita who now also is in the institute discussed about the Match with Geeta. Babita reminded Geeta of the first time when she lost the first match she could not go sleep the whole night but now she does not really bother whether she loses or wins.
This conversation moved Geeta and she realized her error, she tearfully called her. Her father decided to go to the institution to assist them. When he reached there he begins coaching Geeta and Babita, using the same methods when they were younger. Their coach did not appreciate interference of Mahvir and wanted to expel them both from the institution, but the Sport committee decided to give them last chances and ordered Mahavir not to enter the institution or train them elsewhere. Mahvavir and his daughter think of new techniques. He asked Geeta to send him all the videos of the matches that she lost. He watched all the matches carefully and via phone he points out all the mistake that Geeta previously made. They listen carefully to whatever their father told them. Mahavi also decided to observe Geeta in person during all upcoming matches. He was guiding Geeta while sitting in the audiences this was not supported by the coach at all.
On the final Day Mahvair tells Geeta “If you win a silver medal people will forget you one day but if you win the gold medal you will be an example and examples live they don’t die. He further added if she wins it will not be a win for her but millions of girls who are waiting to go out and chase their dream but they are not given the opportunity”
The jealous locked Mahavir in a closet far away from the arena prior to match started. Mahvari was absent during the entire match. While he was locked in the room he suddenly noticed that Indian Nationa Anthem has been played. He believed that Geeta finally won the final. He was right Geeta managed to win the final bout and became the first Indian female wrestler to win gold. Mahavir returns just in time of celebration looks at Geeta and tell her Well-done. He embraces both of his daughters and took deepbreath, tears of happiness spilled on his face on that moment Mahavir’s happens knew no boundary.
Forth Phases: A Good Lesson
The message of this film is very clear, invokes gender discrimination and acknowledges that girls too have the potential to full fill their parent’s dreams. This movie is a good example for changing perspectives. I know most of the time when talk about gender discrimination we tend to target ‘men’ ‘who do not allow their female member of the family to practice her intellect, voice and skills but in my views things are more complicated than we can think. It’s not the individual who does not support girls empower. The fight is much larger than we think, there are institutional and systemic reasons why women in some societies cannot participate freely. To break down these barriers, instead of spending so much time separating ourselves we all should work collaboratively on the issues that we all face irrespective of our genders and the only way to come over these issues is to reject the narrative of men vs women since at the end of the its nothing but us vs us.
Hopefully one day we will live in a world where we all are judged on talent rather than gender.