Dec 25, 2016


Dangal ("wrestler") is one of those films that you can watch with just about anyone—making you smile, laugh, and even cry while loving every bit of the experience. I went in without even knowing what the film was about, having no expectations, and came out with a huge smile and some happy tears. And honestly... I can't help but feel that it has been a wonderful refresher from all the recycled films made by Hollywood.

Movie Poster (Bollywood Hungama)
It's a family movie that, although long, is consistently gripping. Thus far, Dangal (starring Aamir Khan) has many positive reviews, earning raving comments and lots of buzz. And personally, I feel that this response is well-earned. The movie is by far one of my favourite bollywood films. It made me enjoy a biography about wrestling—something I didn't even think I'd like, let alone admire.

And admire, I did.

The story is about a Mahavir Singh Phogat, a father and wrestling nationalist, who raises his two daughters to be international gold medal-winning champions. Throughout the film, you get to witness how these daughters grow—under strict training in a culturally-rich environment—until you feel like you're practically part of the family, too.

The film doesn't waste time on cringy Bollywood dance numbers, love stories, or objectified forms of "beauty." Instead, it focuses on the raw potential of dreams and family. On the power, strength, and capability that these women have been born with and continue to maintain. It's a long, hard journey—but definitely one worth watching all the way through.

The payoff is so worth it.

All components of the film work nicely together. The writers did a skilful job with the script, with the lines being realistic and well-timed. Nothing felt out of place since it was such a perfect balance of serious, sad, and funny. The actors executed the script just as well. Everyone, from the child actors who are now amongst my favourite young stars to the adults who managed to build upon the characters' growth, did a great job. And then there's the director, Nitesh Tiwari, who shows the audience exactly what needs to be seen—nothing more, nothing less.

Although I loved the movie, not everybody feels the same way. Some negative reviews claim that Bollywood is sexist, and that this movie is no different. Instead of focusing on girl power, it focused on one man's "ego."

But I disagree.

The story isn't about a man's "ego," but about his dream—which he says repetitively in the movie. "Girl power" isn't the main focus here, because (let's face it) the women aren't the main characters. They're father is. Geeta, one of Mahavir's daughters, becomes a wrestler not only to fulfil her father's dream, but to earn his pride. Meaning: it's not a male-female dynamic, but a father-daughter relationship. And though the father is stoic, you see some of his defences crumbling when he interacts with his daughters. Especially since his inner turmoil (as a character) is deciding between being a father and being a coach.

In sum, the soundtrack is charming, the characters feel real (and in this case, they actually are), and the setting is well-established. But don't just take my word for it, watch the trailer and decide for yourself: