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Movie Review: Dangal

Aamir Khan — the name is synonymous with dedication, perfection and qualitative cinema… His films have set new benchmarks at the ticket windows: GHAJINI was the first Hindi film to gross Rs 100 cr… 3 IDIOTS created a sensation when it crossed Rs 200 cr mark [it was the first Hindi film to cross the magical figure]… PK, the highest grosser to date in the domestic market [Hindi films], was also the first film to cruise past Rs 300 cr…

Obviously, DANGAL carries colossal expectations on its shoulders. The last biggie of the year 2016 is also expected to bail out the industry, since 2016 hasn’t been kind to Hindi cinema. The biz is at an all-time low, with most films sinking faster than Titanic.

Let’s clarify a pertinent doubt before I proceed ahead… DANGAL is *not* similar to SULTAN. There’s a world of a difference between the two films that eye the same sport: Wrestling. SULTAN was a work of fiction, with focus on the love story, while DANGAL is based on the true story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trained his daughters Geeta and Babita and made them world class wrestlers. So there!

2016 has witnessed stories based on real-life characters/incidents. In addition, films soaked in reality, generally speaking, take the realistic route without bowing to market diktats or over-stretching realities. DANGAL stays true to the material, yet its efficient storyteller Nitesh Tiwari along with the team of writers [story idea: Divya Rao; writers: Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehrotra] ensures that the film connects with every segment of moviegoers. Besides, the writers stay away from the familiar and tried-and-tested tropes to woo Aamir’s legion of fans, which is credible.

DANGAL is a flawless piece of work — it’s captivating, unpredictable, spellbinding, entertaining and never overstays its welcome [run time: 2.41 hours]. Most importantly, DANGAL is seeped in Indian ethos. The highs and lows, the triumphs and failures, the laughter and heartbreak… you smile, you laugh, you weep, you cheer, you feel ecstatic… DANGAL encompasses it all adroitly, with the finale leaving you exhilarated.

The plot: Mahavir Singh Phogat [Aamir Khan] is a wrestler whose sole dream is to win gold for India in the sport of wrestling and since he is unable to do so himself, he decides that he will train his son to become a champion. However, Mahavir is blessed with daughters and feels his dream of winning a medal for India lies shattered.

One day, Mahavir gets to know that his young daughters have had an altercation with neighbourhood boys and bashed them black and blue. That’s when he realises that his dream of winning a gold medal for the country in wrestling could be achieved by his daughters. Mahavir decides to train his young daughters into world class wrestlers.

The girls are reluctant initially and find it tough to cope with the gruelling training sessions, but soon become proficient in the sport. Will Geeta and Babita manage to fulfil their father’s dream?

After having directed CHILLAR PARTY and BHOOTHNATH RETURNS, Nitesh Tiwari delivers his most accomplished work so far. Most films take a long time to come to the point, but the middle and final acts of DANGAL are as attention-grabbing and enticing as its first act. Tiwari deserves brownie points for narrating the story with flourish and the message that the film conveys resonates loud and clear, without getting preachy at any point. The narrative style is simplistic, yet solid and that’s what catches your eye.

Emotions have always been the mainstay of Aamir Khan’s films and DANGAL is no exception. They are genuine and relatable. Besides, there’s a strong emotional connect as DANGAL depicts the delicate relationship shared by a father and his daughters most realistically. The drama is spot-on and the emotional quotient is poignant and heartrending. The penultimate moments take the film to an all-time high, imparting the sheen and sparkle that it deserves.

Pritam contributes a couple of winning melodies that compliment the goings-on delightfully. ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’, ‘Dhaakad’, ‘Gilehriyaan’ and the title track are already well-liked and the best part is, they have been smartly integrated into the proceedings. The background score is effectual and enhances the impact of the drama. The DoP [Setu] deserves tremendous praise. The frames do complete justice to the vision of the director. Dialogue empowers the film wonderfully and at places, are clap-worthy.

The wrestling sequences are superbly executed. Be it the training sessions or the dhobi-pachhads or vanquishing the opponents in the akhada and in the ring, it’s a delight to watch these sequences on screen. Will surely evoke whistles and applause. Editing [Ballu Saluja] is razor-sharp and watertight. There’s no room for restlessness or boredom here.

DANGAL is, without a shred of doubt, an Aamir Khan show all the way. The supremely skilled actor returns after a hiatus [PK] with yet another sterling act that doesn’t miss a beat. He takes giant strides as an actor and gives the film the much-needed power. His expressions, body language and the much-talked-about transformation from a fit and fine young wrestler to a pot-bellied, middle-aged father speak volumes. Another commanding performance that needs to be highlighted is that of Sakshi Tanwar. She compliments Aamir’s character marvellously, displaying the varied emotions seamlessly.

Both, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra inject freshness to their respective characters. Fatima is fantastic as Aamir’s daughter, who makes her father and nation proud of her achievements. She is in top form. Ditto for Sanya, who makes her debut with DANGAL. The ease with which she portrays her role is applaud-worthy. As a matter of fact, the relationship that Fatima and Sanya share with their on-screen parents [Aamir and Sakshi] seems straight out of life and identifiable.

The actors who portray their younger parts — Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar — excel. Frankly, one is so invested in the characters that it makes it easy to root for them as they go from strength to strength during the course of the film.

Aparshakti Khurrana is an actor to watch out for. Enacting the part of Aamir’s nephew, the youngster not only contributes immensely to some lively and wonderful moments, but also delivers a first-rate performance. Ritwik Sahore [Aparshakti’s younger part] is equally efficient. Girish Kulkarni [coach] is, again, a hugely competent actor, who shines in his part. Vivan Bhathena, in a cameo, is perfect.

On the whole, DANGAL is a masterpiece. A terrific film that stays in your heart and remains etched in your memory much after the screening has concluded. A brilliant film that restores your faith in Hindi cinema. Actually, it won’t be erroneous to state that DANGAL is the finest film to come out of the Hindi film industry in a long, long time and mark my words, it will be remembered as a classic in times to come. It blends drama, emotions, sportsmanship and patriotism extraordinarily… the icing on the cake being Aamir Khan’s towering act. This rich-in-merits film has a major advantage too — the holidays ahead [Christmas and New Year] — which will ensure a glorious run at the ticket counters. A must, must watch!

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