The last movie that we caught on big screen in 2016 was Dangal. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, this movie was my ‘welcome back from Chennai’ gift from S. Having read no reviews, I had no idea what to expect. And to say that I was blown away is an understatement.

Dangal is about Geeta Kumari Phogat and Babita Kumari Phogat – two wrestlers from Haryana who brought laurels to our country. More than the wrestlers, it a story about their father – Mahavir Singh Phogat, who coached them to be international champions. Frankly speaking, I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know anything about these champions until I watched this movie. That’s the sad state of our country where only cricket is celebrated.

About the movie itself, I enjoyed the first half thoroughly. The second half fell a bit flat for me, as I found it a little clichéd. But then, what else can be done when it is the natural track of the story? The best part of the movie was Aamir Khan and the two young girls who played Geeta & Babita Juniors. I am willing to watch the movie again and again, just for these people.

All said and done, I had a few issues digesting the facts of the story (not the movie). While I understand that the want for a boy child is still very much prevalent in our country even now, it was hard coming to terms with watching it as a movie on big screen. I was literally waiting for that moment when Mahavir Singh realizes that girls could be wrestlers too. And later, when I read about the life of Geeta Kumari Phogat I learnt that it was actually Mahavir’s wife who was unhappy with the girl babies. For a minute, I was shattered. But then again, this is the reality in some homes even now. If this movie helps change the attitude towards girl children even in one home, that is an achievement in itself.

Mahavir Singh being a national level wrestler himself withdraws from the game owing to money & family issues. So he makes it his lifetime dream to achieve a gold medal for his country through his daughters. This is where I had the biggest issue. Parents forcing their wishes and dreams on their children. When is it or is it ever going to stop? Yes, I did feel proud when Geeta finally got that international gold medal for our country. But was it her dream? When an idea is thrusted (in this case, it literally was thrust into Geeta & Babita’s lives) on you and your life is made to revolve only around that, without realizing it becomes your dream too. But isnt it wrong on the part of a parent to do so, even if it is for the greater good? I was literally in tears when Mahavir chops off the girls’ hair amidst their constant pleading. Both the girls end up sacrificing a lot and in the process forget what their dreams are.

I couldnt help but compare it with another movie that released last year too – M S Dhoni, The Untold Story. Dhoni sacrifices as a lot and undergoes so much before accomplishing as one of the best captains Team India has ever had. But it was his choice and he fought for it. I found it mighty inspirational.

No one’s life can be compared with others but then again, I couldn’t help wonder what would Geeta and Babita have become today if not for their father’s dream.

16 thoughts on “Dangal

  1. Even I enjoyed Dangal quite a lot, esp because of the acting skills of the entire cast ; everyone made it so believable. My favourite was the junior Babita & Geeta and the cousin who got beaten up quite a bit on their road to success 😛
    And like you, even I had this tiny issue of parents forcing their dreams on their kids :/

  2. I haven’t watched the movie, but I read a lot of things around the story, and the facts. One oft mentioned thin was actually about the whole parent forcing his children to live his dreams. And these are my two cents.
    Haryana as a state is as backward as it can get to the way women are treated. Heavily patriarchal, and with high female infanticide. If I think about the girls being brought up in a village in Haryana, all I can imagine is them following the footsteps of the 1000s of other women in the society, majority of whom are down trodden. Women being upset of having girl children is not only because what the society would say, but also for the sad life they know they would have.
    Keeping that in mind, what happened with Geeta and Babita, though forced, was a blessing. Only because they were not in in conditions where they might have been allowed to have dreams at all, leave alone follow them, by the society. I absolutely believe that children should be allowed to pursue what they want, but in this movie, that explanation doesn’t work.


    • I actually wanted to write about one scene from the movie where a 14-year old girl gets married off and that in fact was the turning point of the movie. I agree that for a state that is backward, what Mahavir Singh did to his daughters is amazing. I should have written more about it but lost my train of thoughts, so thank you for this comment.

      • Well, though this parent-forcing-child thing is a part of this story. I would say, I do not agree with the point completely. He forced them initially, but only when he saw some talent in them. After the initial resistance, it was their passion too. Without that the girls may not have excelled. Remember he asks for one year time from the mother for moulding his girls. I would say, any sport/achievement takes efforts and who likes to take that required effort. Initial phase need discipline, and it never comes easy. And children generally do not know what they want to do, one moment they are interested and next moment they will start getting bored from the same thing. So may be if you see something kicking, proper guidance for that activity is important and discipline too. If they have it in them, they will flourish! And yes, the fine line between discipline and forcing should not be crossed. All said, I am no expert on the subject, just my two cents.

  3. You nailed it, GB. Even in Dhoni, the untold story (disclaimer – haven’t watched the movie fully yet) I find his sister character (Bhoomika Chawla, I think) very domestic and acceding to her dad’s wishes and just motivating her brother whenever he needs it. Moral of the story, basically girls are produced to become what their dads wants them to be. Thasall! 😐

  4. GB, very well written. I too had the same thoughts of how those young girls were forced to get into wrestling by their father. But given the backdrop of all this happening in Haryana, I would assume that the girls would not have been able to dream much for themselves had the father not taken the onus on himself. Although I did not like him thrusting his dreams on his daughters, I really admired his courage and conviction to take such a bold step when the entire village was against him. Having said that, I am not justifying what he did to his daughters. He robbed them of their childhood fun. I even did not like the dialogue where he pressurizes Geeta to come back from the final with Gold medal only.

  5. That’s a good point you made GB.. I felt the same too by watching that movie but the other part of me thinks little different. The father decides to push them only after noticing that they are capable to do it.. Some kids needs that extra push to understand what they want. Not all are naturally self motivated and not all are prodigy.. This is my perception as a mom of middle school goer.. I am still cat on the wall with this thought..

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