My review – Dangal – An impeccable affair by Aamir, Nitesh and their team of girls
By Joginder Tuteja
First things first – Hats off to Aamir Khan and Nitesh Tiwari for resisting the temptation of making Dangal ride just on former’s superstardom and instead allowing the girls to actually hog the limelight for a major part of the narrative. It must have been a very difficult choice to make, considering the fact that Aamir Khan is the most recognizable face in the film and hence it would have been a natural choice to let him drive the show in entirety. However, they instead let the core story do all the talking and accordingly fit in the characters into the narrative, something that turns out to be the major win factor of Dangal.
This is the reason why it has to be mentioned that Dangal would be remembered as much for the girls on whose life the film is based, Geeta and Babita Phogat, as Aamir Khan himself. As a matter of fact you get that impression right at the beginning when within 10 minutes of establishing the past and present of Aamir Khan’s character, the story smartly moves to a point where the two teenage girls (Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar) find themselves in a situation that leads them to a ‘desi akhaaada’. There are light hearted and some really amusing moments galore that make Dangal such an entertaining affair that you can’t help but clap and enjoy a full throated laugh.
Large credit for that also goes to the background commentary given by Aparshakti Khurranna in a thick Haryanvi accent that is funny and extremely effective. As a matter of fact Aamir’s own commentary in Dil Dhadakne Do wasn’t as effective and clearly he seems to have focused a lot on ensuring that it is nothing less than perfect by Aparshakti in Dangal. No wonder, even when a few serious scenes arrive in Dangal, it is the fun filled rendition in the background that makes the escapades of Geeta, Babita and their cousin brother (who grows up to be Aparshakti) supremely entertaining. As for those wondering if Aamir has done a volte face by playing a man who brings his daughters into the ring just to satisfy his own desire of seeing a gold medal win then well, check out an all important sequence set after an engagement celebration and you would be relieved of that misconception.
As for the film in itself, it is engaging for most part of it and while the first half moves on like a breeze, the first 20 minutes after the interval range from being decent to very good. You somehow miss the fun element in the narrative and a few sequences and conversations do become a tad heavy. This is also the point where the song ‘Naina’ arrives and that further slows down the pace of the film a bit. However, all of this is just a brief diversion as soon enough a major twist in the tale takes place and Aamir finds himself in a mainstream placement all over again.
The film becomes truly special at this point in time as the character played by Aamir takes things into his hands. What flows from here are some never seen scenes below as there is an element of suspense too that seeps in, something that is even acknowledged by Aparshakti in the background. The girls are now grown up and while Sanya Malhotra is good and played her part well as Babita, the film primarily becomes that of Geeta, who is played by Fatima Sana Shaikh. What is remarkable to see is the manner in which Fatima plays a series of matches for screen and actually gives a very good account of herself as an actor who could well be a qualified wrestler. She is just brilliant in the sequences set in the ring, something that sets her apart from many a contemporary of hers who have entered a ring in earlier Bollywood releases.
As for the performances, you get to see an impeccable portrayal by just about everyone. Aamir is of course Aamir and no one can touch him when it comes to truly become a character in a film. You get to see him in a middle aged avtar and he is brilliant all over again. Fatima has a parallel role to that of Aamir and she is just flawless. Sanya is a good companion right through the film and so is Sakshi Tanwar who is every bit a lady from rural Haryana. She is superb whenever she comes on screen. The other younger actors are superb too, be it Aparshakti, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar or Ritvik Sahore (who plays the younger Aparshakti). Yes, one just believes that there could have been a different choice for the coach (played by Girish Kulkarni). Though he is a National Award winning actor, somehow he comes across as the only filmy factor in Dangal which otherwise stays natural right through, even with a superstar like Aamir in the midst of affairs.
Technically too, the film does well in practically all departments. The highlight of the film are the wrestling sequences and let the fact be stated that they are far better than the ones seen in Sultan. Here, there is a lot more talk and visuals around the strategy, technique and rules of the game, which lend an additional weight and sense of involvement for a viewer. Production design is apt too though it also needs to be added that for a large part of the film’s first half, the visuals (especially the interiors) appear a lot constrained due to which you don’t quite get big screen vibes. That said, the film’s music/lyrics (Pritam, Amitabh Bhattacharya) as well as the background score work well in tandem with the narrative and while the cinematography is in line with the theme and genre, the duration of Dangal could have been cut short by 10-15 minutes in the middle of the second half.
What won’t be cut short though is the very good run of the film in theaters. It is after ages that a good film has come in theaters which would be universally liked and hence audiences would be pretty much happy to give it a dekko. An entertaining affair all the way that also has a good blend of patriotism and women empowerment by director Nitesh Tiwari, Dangal deserves a watch for sure.