Movie review: Aamir Khan shines in a cliche-ridden Dangal

In recent times, a surfeit of real-life stories were imitated in Hindi cinema, namely Sarbjit, Dhoni, Mary Kom, Neerja. While some inspired to a certain extent, others seemed to have lost the plot in one way or the other. What makes Dangal stand apart is the fact that it sticks to a view that seems grandiose even in 2016— women are no less than men.

Aamir Khan is his typically terrific best as the once-upon-a-time-good wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat of Haryana who is dejected after having four daughters and no son to take his legacy in the akhada ahead. The former player laments to his wife (the wonderful Sakshi Tanwar for whom such roles are a walk in the park on the small screen) that his desire of seeing his son win a gold medal for the country in wrestling will remain unfulfilled.

He, however, gets pleasantly surprised when his daughters — Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar)—prove that wrestling is in their blood as they thrash the neighbour’s child who bullies them. The father then turns into a determined coach and trains the school-going girls to become wrestlers and win medals. He single-mindedly pushes the girls and pays no heed to naysayers. These sequences are some of the movie’s most scintillating moments when we see the girls put through the motions in a gruelling manner.

The disciplined ways of Phogat irks his young daughters so much so that they plead in front of their mother but to no avail. Both the actors’ smouldering delivery of crisp Haryanvi dialogues makes the first half a lovely journey. The writers, Nitesh Tiwari (who is also the director), Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Meherotra, to their credit, keep the narrative straightforward. Yet, multiple scenes appear stretched. (more)

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