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Review: Dangal is India’s best sports film – movies

Dangal movie review rediff

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Aamir Khan in DangalIf sporting films were pitted against one another, Dangal would be champion, says Raja Sen.

this summer, india learned the name produnova.

An intricate gymnastic move named after a legendary Russian athlete, the produnova is a jump so complex that only five gymnasts have performed it.

Olympic gold medalist and reigning queen of the sport, American gymnast Simone Biles avoids it altogether, saying, “I’m not trying to die.”

This is a reflection of both the systematic way international athletes train where they can gauge the odds and their stark contrast to Indian athletes, especially female stars like Dipa Karmakar, who rocked the produnova at the 2016 Games, and the way they approach each round on the world stage with an absolute go-for-all mentality, never sure they’ll get another chance.

Dangal, Nitesh Tiwari’s film about the wonderful Phogat sisters who have won gold medals in wrestling for India, captures this mindset brilliantly.

A movie about real-life sports champions can often be a predictable tale of guts and glory, but instead of creating artificial sticking points, this movie masterfully highlights the real struggle: underfunding, lack of opponents to train with, a belief in technique that may be outdated.

the movie automatically feels original.

an authentic wrestling mat becomes the object of dreams.

a local wrestling promoter claims that more villagers will come to watch the women fight than to watch the lions.

You’re right. the villain in dangal is the mindset.

The first proponent is his father.

mahavir singh phogat, a former national wrestling champion, wants sons to further his legacy and do what he never could, to win gold medals in international wrestling, but despite all the ‘foolproof’ plans ‘ who make their way into his town -that-everything- much to his chagrin, he still has daughters.

It’s only when he realizes that girls can win gold medals that the epiphany turns him into a fascistic tiger father, pushing his daughters over the edge. Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, had drawn up a 78-page plan to make them tennis legends, and started pushing his daughters into the sport at age four, then forbade them to have boyfriends and beheaded any barbie that might come up. . road.

mahavir phogat, who mercilessly cuts his daughters’ hair and exposes them to much ridicule, gets it.

aamir khan plays this phenomenal character, both fascinating and flawed, a completely sure winner of his beliefs who bends the world around him to his will. It’s the performance of a lifetime for him, and Khan, incredibly buff when he’s young, proud and paunchy when he’s old, is sensational when he shows off the moves and imparts knowledge to the girls.

With her wrist resting on her hip like an overfull teapot, your phogat seems to be always thinking, planning, and concentrating. he knows what he is doing.

Eschewing the leading man’s vanity and cliché, Khan shows us commitment to the role and, more impressively, the ability to, as they say in scripted wrestling, eat a loss.

It’s impressive.

At one point he asks his nephew to help the girls train, and the boy’s father confesses that he doesn’t want to say yes but doesn’t dare say no. This is good enough for Khan, who immediately pushes the boy into all sorts of servitude.

It is this incredibly fastidious nephew (aparshakti khurrana) who narrates the film, his idiomatic turns of phrase weaving the well-written film with the rich local strains of Haryanvi humor, a dry humor that depends on both language and tone. .

We are told, for example, that an alarm clock cunningly went astray and, very well, about the stubbornness of the god who would not grant phogat his long-desired children.

Not that I needed them. Geeta and Babita Phogat are dynamite from the start, a pair of girls traumatized by their training regimen until they realize that winning is better than golgappas, who can no longer eat.

The two girls are played by Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, who charm us with innocence and exasperation before showing us how deftly they move. The fight choreography in the movie is excellent and surprisingly believable, and the girls are great here, and even better when they grow up to be Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra.

rug skills aside, both girls give rousing performances, with fatima geeta having a good, good time with aamir as father and daughter engage in a wordless phone conversation. he growls, she sobs, like many of us.

One of the best dangal performances comes from sakshi tanwar, who plays the hapless mother, trying to strike a balance between an unyielding father and daughters who just want to be girls a little longer.

His character, who literally lives among rocks and rough places, has little dialogue, but his eyes are incredibly expressive as he displays futility and triumph on his face.

The film has an excellent ensemble and a special mention should be made to casting director Mukesh Chhabra for populating it with such authentic faces and characters that they speak volumes even without words.

The movie opens with an office fight, and the supporting cast, the woman in pink smiling shyly at the men around her, the old man admiring Aamir Khan as he buttons his shirt, are wonderful.

In such an evocatively muddy film, it’s sad to see dangal create a cardboard villain caricature at the end and throw in an absurd climactic scene involving a locked door, a bit of jarring melodrama out of place in this grounded narrative. . but even this stumble leads the girls to find their own way, freed from any explanation. they do it their way.

pritam’s soundtrack is solid, and sethu sriram’s textured cinematography oscillates between the poetic (there’s a beautiful dirt slow-mo shot of a shaking head flying through a red sky) and the powerfully prosaic. , with fight scenes that look amazingly real.

This is by far the most believable Indian sports movie ever felt, and even the commentators get in on the action and provide most of us with a tutorial on how to watch the sport.


dangal shows us where rainbows are found in wrestling, and while it’s a celebration of the true greats, and true determination, it’s not just about one sport.

india needs to see this movie because of the way it puts ‘her’ in ‘hero’.

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