Review: Dangal - Far From Gold

Posted on 25 December, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Image Source: Studio Flicks

Don’t let the headline confuse you; Dangal is the best Bollywood film of 2016. It is a fun crowd pleaser, an inspiring story that will make you cry, laugh and feel proud. However, when a film is done well in almost every department the minor flaws and added melodrama stick out like a sore thumb.

Dangal is the real-life story of Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) and his family, set in the late 1980s Haryana. Director Nitesh Tiwari has had the whole film narrated by the humble voice of Aparshakti Khurrana who plays Mahavir’s older nephew.

Various dust laden sweaty men open the film flexing and gearing up for a duel. Aamir Khan walks in with his strong wrestler like stance, and you cannot help but feast your eyes on him. He’s mighty throughout the film; even with a potbelly he’s electric. There are a few scenes where he stands strong admiring his medals and later his daughters’ medals, his biceps literally fill up the screen. And, it is simply beautiful to watch.

The plot focuses on Mahavir’s obsession to win a gold medal for the country. Due to certain circumstances when he couldn’t do the deed, he decides that his son would make his country proud and bring home gold. He believes that wrestling is in the blood, but was defeated when all four of his children are born girls. After a street fight that the girls (Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar) get into and bash the boys who tried to bully them, Mahavir learns that even girls are as capable and strong as boys. Thence, the persistent man begins training his barely mature babies to be wrestlers, who years later brought home Gold along with numerous other medals and accolades.

While the acting by the whole cast, especially the girls both children and teenagers, is powerful, the dialogue delivery and presence of the supporting cast by Sakshi Tanwar and Aparshakti Khurrana is beautiful. The cinematography, costume design and editing is brilliant, but the film disappoints majorly for its writing.

In the first half of the film, Mahavir is barely likeable and stubborn yet struggling to be both a coach and parent. The gruelling training schedule, cropping the girls’ long hair against their will and not even letting the girls enjoy a friend’s wedding, all appears like abuse but adds up to the making of a champion and in a way is an emotionally satisfying watch.

But what is screwed up here is the second half. The whole build up of a stubborn coach and father is ruined with melodrama and addition of an unnecessary negative character. Post the interval the now grown up Geeta (Fatima Sana Shaikh) has joined NSA (National Sports Academy). Geeta for the first time in her life is by herself and is discovering luxuries and joys of life in the simplest of things like eating pani puri, catching a film and smiling as a guy passes by. But the script portrays these longings as distraction, by comparing her bewilderment to the strenuous schedule of Babita (Sanya Malhotra).

And the worst part of the script is that she now has a new coach (Girish Kulkarni). The coach unlike Geeta’s father doesn’t understand her natural instincts and trains her to fight using her weakness. Towards the end the coach turns into a full-fledged villain who conspires against her, the scenes begin to get repetitive and forced comedy and drama takes over.

The film’s last few minutes are a test. Either the reaction of the audience pisses you off or it wins you over. I couldn’t make up my mind if I was enjoying the film or tolerating the drama. Some scenes made me cringe while others made me cry. The drama is uneven but the powerful sound score holds you in place till the end.

Overall, for me, the film is something that could have been extraordinary but misses the mark by trying too hard to please the masses. However, the effort put in by the actors and the design team is commendable. Do catch the film for the experience not for the mockery.

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