Dangal (2016) — A Wholesome Family Entertainer
Motivating feel good stories always have a universal appeal. They work with the audience is in the psychological level and its impact on them purely depends on the way in which the story is packaged in the cinematic form. Aamir Khan has earned the name of a ‘thinking actor’ which is rarely stamped to someone in the Indian filmdom. Time and again he proves that he deserves this tag pinned on him, with every project he involves himself with. ‘Dangal’ just vouches it.
Bollywood’s tryst with the bio-pics of sports personalities is obvious in the recent years and Dangal differs from the rest in many aspects. Yes, there is an intense drama in the film and you won’t even dare to miss a frame. Also the film touches many layers by delving into the life of a sportsman whose sport lie orphaned both by the government and the public alike. It offers an emotive glimpse of a wrestler who dedicates everything he has in store, even his life, hoping to make his nation proud with a gold medal he aims at winning, despite getting nothing in return.
Dangal cleverly shifts the plot from one character’s perspective to the other touching the sensibilities of each character, which makes the drama unfolding, more engaging. The shades of the father character from a forlorn yesteryear wrestler, to an adamant coach to his own daughters, to an elderly man whose ego is tossed between a coach and a father, Aamir is enviably lovely. Usually one of the lead characters narrates the stories in the voice over, but here the audiences are guided through the story by an otherwise trivial character. I personally loved the way every character comes out with their ‘Hinglishly’ pronunciation and this has beautifully added a nativity touch to the story.
Each character has a purpose in the narration and they somehow help the plot to push forward. None seem to be mere frame fillers. Besides, Mahavir Singh Pogat played by Aamir, though seems to be the protagonist, its the drama that takes the lead all the time and not the character (none of the characters have in fact). On a layer Dangal works as a feminist film, given the male dominated roots from which the plot grows, and the way the father characters fights all the odds and show his girls what they really are. Hearing from the friends’ feedback I feel this aspect of the film has worked wonders with the audience.
There is sure a touch of arrogance, in the dad’s role as a coach in the initial phase, where the girls’ point of view (Geeta and Babita) is wonderfully presented through a song sequence. After years, I felt glad to see the songs as a cog in the story pulling wheel and not as merely tool of fancy.
On the other level through sharp dialogues, the film presents the governments negligence in supporting and promoting sports. There is one sequence where Mr. Pogat seeks financial assistance for his daughter; it briefly touches the reality, which we’ve often seen in films of this genre. Sadly nothing changes in reality. But the film doesn’t spend much time on this dimension. Instead the screenplay is keen in bringing out the changes in the shades of the characters. The film post interval turns into a battle field where the egos clash and this has done wonders to the pace of the drama.
The quotient of drama intensifies with every passing minute; the credibility of the story is believable within the fictional reality. The entire credit goes to the screenplay writing team. Kudos to them! Having taken a sport which is largely unpopular, rather unfamiliar among the general public, taking the sport through a cinema is really challenging, and the entire team has achieved it with perfection.
Dangal (161 minutes) is surely the best holiday treat this season, a feminist drama packed with all ingredients for a wholesome family entertainer.