Tag Archives: dangal

Dangal movie review: Aamir Khan and four lovely youngsters knock it out of the park

Sweaty bodies gripping each other in places strangers should not touch, violence as a form of entertainment, our baser human instincts getting official and mass encouragement – if you ask me why I cannot stand contact sports, these would top my answer.

Young Geeta and Babita Phogat have far more mundane reasons for hating wrestling: no girl they know does it, so why should they? Dangal is the story of their father’s bulldog-like determination to make them gold medal winners for India, and the girls’ own passage from aversion to passion for the sport.

Nitesh Tiwari’s third film as director is based on the real-life story of Haryana’s Mahavir Singh Phogat, patriarch and coach of one of the country’s most unusual sporting families: his daughters are all wrestling champions, the eldest two — Geeta and Babita — are Commonwealth Games gold medallists, and Geeta is the first Indian woman wrestler to have ever qualified for the Olympics.

This achievement is particularly striking considering that Haryana has one of India’s worst child sex ratios and a horrifying track record in the matter of female foeticide and infanticide.

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Dangal is about Mahavir’s single-mindedness which brings him into conflict with his wife, his community, the country’s sporting establishment and ultimately, even Geeta.

The first half of the film is riveting in every way imaginable. Mahavir (played by Aamir Khan) gives up his wrestling dreams to financially support his family. He then decides to turn his yet-to-be-born sons into wrestlers who will bring home golds for India. This dream too is crushed when he and his wife Daya have four daughters instead in succession.

One day when Geeta and Babita bash up a couple of local boys for abusing them, Mahavir sees the light. He forgot, he says, that a gold medal is gold whether won by a boy or a girl.

The songs neatly woven into the narrative in these scenes are catchy, their lyrics steeped in hilarious colloquialisms. The acting is singularly flawless all around.

Geeta and Babita as children are played by two brilliant debutants, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, who knock it out of the park in every scene (if I may borrow a phrase from another game). And the storytelling matches up.

No effort is made to gloss over Mahavir’s flaws: he is a dictator at home and a terror outside. This is, without question, a traditional set-up where the husband/father’s word matters more than anyone else’s opinions or beliefs. Even the local people are afraid of him, but that does not stop them from gossipping about this man who, they are convinced, will drive his daughters to ruin by forcing them into a field they believe no woman should touch with a barge pole.

Udta Punjab’, ‘Sultan’ and ‘Dangal’ show new social, political realities of Punjab and Haryana

The latest Bollywood blockbuster to speak of Punjab (Udta Punjab) is the horrific account of the youth of the state doing drugs. Meanwhile, two superstar films hitting the big screen with tales of the rural heartland of Haryana, are Sultan and Dangal. Riding on Salman Khan and Aamir Khan, the two mega-flicks bring to the fore stories of the youth of Haryana, muscling their way into sporting glory.

Desperate efforts were made to scuttle a big budget film like Udta Punjab, because it spoke the awful truth of the state. Meanwhile, the youth of Haryana, charged with the glamour of being celebrities, are rewriting their destinies.

This is the social and political reality of the two agrarian north Indian states today. Nobody expects the Punjab drug story to change anytime soon. This crisis has hugely empowered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is now trying to bulldoze its way into the power corridors of the Punjab Secretariat in Chandigarh.

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Haryana, meanwhile, keeps its focus squarely on sports, and has consistently punched much above its weight. Following the Commonwealth Games of 2010, that if Haryana were a country, it would be fifth on the gold medal winners’ tally, after Australia, England, Canada.

Fifteen of India’s 38 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games — nearly 40 per cent of the country’s best-ever haul — were won by athletes from Haryana. The state continued its supremacy over Indian sports in the 2012 London Olympics. Out of the six medals won by India in the London Olympics, four were bagged by players associated with Haryana.

Assembly elections in Punjab are due early next year. Youth power is one of the major routes that AAP wants to take to chart its victory path in the state. Along with promises for better opportunities for education, AAP is out to storm sports turf in the northern state to wrestle political power from arch rivals Congress and SAD-BJP.

Unveiling the party’s Youth Manifesto on July 3, AAP supremo  promised the Punjab Olympic Mission to encourage and empower Punjab sportspersons to win medals for the state. The party’s ‘Youth Manifesto’ also provides for a sports university & three additional sports colleges to encourage sport among Punjab’s youth. It promises the highest prize money of all states for achievement in sports. The prize for an Olympic gold medal – Rs 5 crore!

Despite drug abuse tearing through the  Punjabi pride, physical strength and valour continues to run through the state’s DNA. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has failed to animate Punjab sports at grassroot level. This is where  has sensed a huge opportunity. AAP has promised to launch ‘Khedo Punjab’, a mass movement in sports, if voted to power in the 2017 Assembly elections.

Among the sports initiatives promised by AAP is the decision to identify and adopt 500 talented sportspersons, whose training, diet and fitness will be provided free by the state. There is dire need to give the youth story of Punjab a bright turn.

Last year, the Union Sports Ministry had drawn up an ambitious Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme for the Rio Olympics in August 2016. As part of the TOP scheme, star sportspersons from all over the country were allocated funds for enhanced fitness and training for the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

Here too, Haryana had emerged as India’s medal factory.

State-wise, Haryana continued its run as the sporting powerhouse of the country, with 16 athletes listed as beneficiaries under the TOP scheme in the first two lists. Most of them were wrestlers and boxers. Star grappler Sushil Kumar led the pack, which also had Yogeshwar Dutt, Bajrang Kumar, Amit Kumar and the Phogat sisters — Vinesh and Babita — in it.

Among the pugilists, Vijender Singh, Mandeep Jangra, Sumit Sangwan, Vikas Krishan and Pinki Jangra were the beneficiaries under the scheme. Later Vijender Singh, India’s most celebrated pugilist, was dropped from the list of beneficiaries under TOP because he had bid goodbye to amateur boxing and turned professional.

Discus thrower Seema Antil and marathon man Sandeep Kumar also benefitted from TOPS. Shooters Sanjeev Rajput, Shweta Chaudhary and Anisa Sayyed were the other Haryana athletes under the sports ministry’s pioneer project.

By comparison, Punjab’s tally was nearly half of what Haryana has scored among the TOP beneficiaries.
In the first two lists, Punjab had only nine Rio hopefuls under the TOP scheme. Its maximum representation was in the field of athletics. Triple jumper Arpinder Singh, shot putter Inderjeet Singh, marathon runner Khushbir Kaur, relay runner Mandeep Kaur and discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon are Punjab’s flag-bearers under the scheme.

Youth power will play a key role in the Assembly elections in Punjab in 2017. AAP plans to go ballistic with its various campaigns to draw the youth to its fold.

In the 2014 Parliamentary polls, Punjab had close to 4.7 lakh voters in the 18-19 age group. The party had emerged as the giant killer in Punjab, by wresting four of the thirteen Parliamentary seats.

In its debut foray into Punjab, AAP left the ruling SAD-BJP alliance with six seats, and pushed the Congress tally down to only three seats in the Lok Sabha elections, AAP now hopes to build a ‘Nava Punjab’ (new Punjab), energized by the youth and the aspiring middle class of the state.

That will definitely be a whole new flight, and a much-needed shift from Udta Punjab.