Dangal Review: A powerhouse of a film about gender equality, love, sacrifice, and patriotism

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Dangal, Movie Poster, Aamir Khan, Mahavir Phogat, Geeta Phogat
Dangal (2016) By Nitesh Tiwari
Dangal is an Indian sports biopic directed by Nitesh Tiwari who has previously been associated by projects like Chillar Party and Bhoothnath Returns. Co-produced by Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, and Siddharth Roy Kapur, Dangal is stars Aamir Khan as the wrestler and Olympic coach Mahavir Singh Phogat. Dangal is the story of Phogat’s struggle against society and system to train his daughters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, as wrestlers while simultaneously dealing with lack of funds, opportunities and proper training facilities. Both Geeta and Babita went on to win medals for India at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. While Geeta won the gold in the 55 kg category, becoming the first female wrestler to do so, Babita won the silver in the 51 kg category. Dangal co-stars Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, and Suhani Bhatnagar.

Aamir Khan is known to be quite choosy when it comes to roles. He does just one movie every 2-3 years. Over the last decade or so, he has delivered one blockbuster after the other. In terms of the box office collections, PK and Dhoom 3 happen to be two of the biggest films of his career. In between, he has also done films like Rang De Basanti, 3 Idiots, and Taare Zameen Par, which tasted both commercial success and critical acclaim. Aamir Khan is not called a perfectionist for no reason. For each of his role, Aamir Khan prepares intensively and doesn’t leave any stone unturned. For Dangal, he was required to play the different phases of a wrestler’s life: from a young wrestler to a 42 year old man and then a 52 year old man. The transformation was no cakewalk. But, Aamir was up to it. At the beginning of the shoot his body's fat content was 38 percent but he worked really hard, pushing his body to new limits, and managed to reduce it to just 9.6 percent which was the target to begin with. Aamir’s remarkable physical transformation is well documented by a video titled “Fat To Fit” which was released last month on UTV’s YouTube channel.
Aamir Khan and Zaira Wasim as Mahavir and Geeta Phogat (young)
Aamir Khan and Zaira Wasim as Mahavir and Geeta Phogat (young)

Speaking of transformation, the actresses playing Geeta (Zaira and Fatima) and Babita (Suhani and Sanya) too had to undergo intense physical training to get into proper shape for Dangal. And it shows in every frame of Dangal. Fatima, who has maximum wrestling sequences in the movie, even fractured her leg which delayed the shooting of some crucial scenes. The wrestling fights and moves in Dangal are expertly choreographed. The intensity of the scenes greatly adds to the movie’s credibility. The narrative and character arcs of Dangal are very well defined with meticulous attention to period detail. Dangal is as much about Geeta and Babita as it is about Mahavir Phogat.

Dangal - My First Thoughts

For a biopic to work well it should have a certain level of realism but there should be enough drama to keep the viewers engaged. Nitish Tiwari and team succeed in seamlessly blending realism and drama with a whiff of humor. Aamir Khan is known to influence his projects at a creative level as well and it often pushes the directors to bring their A-games to the fore. If we look at Aamir’s acting career then we can easily observe that very often directors have delivered their best work while working with Aamir: be it Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in Rang De Basanti, Ashutosh Gowariker in Lagaan, Vikram Bhatt in Ghulam, Kunal Kohli in Fanaa, or Farhan Akhtar in Dil Chahta Hai. And, Dangal appears to be no exception, for it is clearly Nitish Tiwari’s best work yet. 
Fatima Sana Sheikh as Geeta Phogat in Dangal
Fatima Sana Sheikh as Geeta Phogat in Dangal

Overall, Dangal is a powerhouse of a film that takes the idea of gender equality to a whole new level. It is not only the biggest film of the year but is also the biggest film of Aamir Khan’s illustrious acting career and may go on to tumble all kinds of box-office records. Here is a rare Bollywood film that combines elements of a family drama, biopic, and a sports movie, all into one—with the themes of love, sacrifice and patriotism at its core. Dangal has scenes of such intense power and emotion that it tugs at our heartstrings, making us experience a rainbow of emotions. Dangal is a testament to human patience, persistence and perseverance and encourages us to follow our dreams and aspirations until we finally succeed. The film also emphasizes on the importance of adhering to one’s natural style in sports, whether attack or defense. Watching Dangal while sitting in a packed theatre one can easily sense the ever increasing levels of the excitement. When the audience starts clapping even before the actual climax in anticipation of what's to come it is a cinematic triumph. When the actual climax compels the audience to stand on their feet and join the film's characters to pay respect to the Indian tricolor, it is a stroke of cinematic genius. Dangal is daring, devastating and ultimately rewarding. Dangal is one of those films that can uplift a nation and galvanize its people. It is a must watch if you are an Aamir Khan fan, sport enthusiast, or an Indian national! 

Rating: 9/10

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  


Dangal Trailer (YouTube)

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  1. Very nice review. I agree the impact of such movies have on audience is beyond imagination and can unite country as whole. Need more movies like this but unfortunately there is only one aamir khan.

  2. Evry single words of yours in the article potrays my passion fr this movie.


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