The Common Man Speaks

25Jan/170

How Dangal showed that patriotism can be felt, not preached

Nitesh Tiwari’s Aamir Khan-starrer, Dangal has shattered box-office records by becoming the biggest Bollywood blockbuster ever. The film has earned over Rs 370 crore so far. Collections in this range speak about a film’s wide acceptance. More so because the earnings have been constant. Its peak business wasn’t limited to the first few days or first week.

But the film, based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, has also achieved something else subtly.

In today’s times, patriotism and nationalism are transformed to hyper-patriotism and ultra-nationalism. It is a ploy used by self-proclaimed patriots who are always ready to attack anyone not agreeing with their pro-government views in the name of Desh Bhakti.

Dangal stillThis is also seen the most if you disagree with their views of opposing everything that is Pakistani. Be it actors, cricketers, artists and who not. These are the same people who completely turn a blind eye to the non-stop trade between India and Pakistan, even after the Uri attacks. Some of them might even be staying in houses made from cement that comes from across the border. However, this is a different story.

Coming back to the main topic, in the midst of such hyper-national atmosphere, Dangal has shown the actual meaning of patriotism, which should be felt and not preached. This is in the climax when the National Anthem is played. It was an excellent technique to make Phogat realize that Geeta has won the Gold medal.

Tiwari got the audience rooting for Geeta Phogat in her quest to win Gold for India in such a way that most of us were forced to stand during the National Anthem. Some of us who have been opposing the playing of our anthem before films also stood up. Why? Because we badly wanted her and India to win the Gold and make Mahavir’s dream come true. So, the climax brought a sense of pride towards our nation.

But all this was achieved without a single dialogue highlighting the importance of patriotism. Without any sloganeering. In fact, there were no instructions on the screen either asking people to stand. Hence, it’s proven that patriotism is a feeling, not a slogan.

In all this, Aamir has also truly destroyed the morale of hate mongers, who were spreading messages to boycott Dangal. But he did that without saying a word against them and by just making his work do the talking.

They urged everyone to boycott his films. People made it the biggest hit ever.

They labeled him ‘anti-national.’ His film showed the true meaning of nationalism.

Hope for peace lives on...

- By Keyur Seta

24Dec/160

Dangal Review: A true Gold Medalist

Sports films have become an overdose in mainstream Hindi cinema. But Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal won’t let you think about this statistic for two reasons. It is not just the best sports underdog film but also one of the best films to have come out from our part of the world.

Dangal is a real life account of India’s wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat’s efforts to make his daughters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat champions in the sport. As a young man, Mahavir (Aamir Khan) couldn’t fulfill his dream of winning Gold Medal for India due to his family condition. So, he goes on a mission to make sure his upcoming son will bring India glory.

However, he is blessed (or in this case, cursed) with not one but four daughters. This shatters him as he believes only a son can win Gold in wrestling. But one day he realizes that two of his daughters, Geeta and Babita (Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar who grow up as Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra) also have wrestling in their blood. Mahavir’s hopes re-emerge.

Although Dangal is a biopic, the makers honestly confess at the start that a lot of aspects have been fictionalized, including some characters. This might disappoint some but it won’t matter to you once the film begins. Dangal is an ideal example of an intelligent screenplay, mature dialogues and masterful presentation. The combination produces one memorable sequence after another. And like every intelligent film, at a lot of places it says a lot without saying much. Also, in a lot of places, serious situations are presented humorously.

Dangal posterThe film does have few logical errors here and there but the huge number of positive points makes sure you don’t get affected. Even Tiwari has done well in covering them up intelligently. But there comes one moment at the end which is too fictionalized. However, the incredible effect it produces in the end transforms it into a masterstroke.

In fact, in my opinion, it is the one of the most overwhelming climaxes. A lot of people, if not all, who are against the playing of National Anthems during movies would happily rise up when it is played in this film.

It is difficult to jot down the best moments, apart from the climax. The one that stands out is when Mahavir explains to Geeta that her fight is not against the opponent but with all those who believe girls should only be restricted to household chores. The entire gist of the film explained so simply.

The film’s technical department matches up to the content and even enhances it. Cinematographer Sethu Sriram has a long body of work including Tere Naam (2003), Wanted (2009) and OMG – Oh My God (2012). But with his fine work here, he has arrived.

The background score is minimal which is a smart move. There are no loud sounds during wrestling scenes to make them forcefully appealing, which a lot of films are guilty of. In fact, there is no background score on most occasions and rightfully so.

Pritam’s music and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics add plenty of effect. The songs take the story forward and are not treated merely as songs.

Lastly, the film reaches this level because of Aamir Khan. He once again proves he is one of the few greatest artists from India. And with this performance, he shows he is the powerhouse of dedication. But it is not merely an Aamir Khan film. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra make enormous use of the opportunity and manage to match-up to Aamir, which is no small achievement.

Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, who play their younger versions, stay etched in your memory their limited screen time. Sakshi Tanwar should do more films. She provides a fine act as Mahavir’s wife. Girish Kulkarni is a phenomenal performer and he shows it with his act as the coach. Aparshakti Khurrana, as Geeta and Babita’s cousin, isn’t bad. At times, he is overused to provide humour.

Overall: Dangal is one of the finest films you will see and one of the very few ones with a lot of repeat value.

Box-office prediction: The film has gained a tremendous opening on the first day earning Rs 29-30 crore (as per BoxOfficeIndia.com). With the incredible word-of-mouth, it is sure to rise higher and has a fair chance of being the highest earner of 2016 defeating Sultan. If not that, it is sure to reach the Rs 300 crore mark.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Nitesh Tiwari

Producers: UTV Motion Pictures and Aamir Khan Productions

Writers: Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Meharotra

Cast: Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Sakshi Tanwar, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar

Music: Pritam

Genre: Biopic/Drama

Runtime: 161 minutes

Dangal Geeta Phogat