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Dangal – Breaking all barriers

Like most Aamir Khan Productions, Dangal, released two years after his previous box office hit PK is setting another box office record.  The promotions were low key, but Dangal’s trailer promised to deliver an action-packed edge-of-the-seat experience.  The promise was well -fulfilled.

The film stars two little-known faces, Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat, the heroine, and Debutant Sanya Malhotra as Geeta’s sister Babita Kumari.  Television soap Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki fame Sakshi Tanwar as Daya Kaur, Mahavir Singh Poghat’s wife, sort of completes the cast.

Dangal is a true story of two young female wrestlers Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat, trained and encouraged by their father Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler who gave up wrestling due to financial difficulties. Mahavir dreams of having a son who would soon fulfill his dreams. His wife, however, bore them four daughters and he gives up his wrestling dream. Until one day, when parents of a boy from his daughter’s school came complaining that the girls beat up their son black and blue. Mahavir, who always believed that wrestling lies in a person’s blood immediately starts training his daughters with an aim to see them winning a gold medal for India.

The arduous journey of Geeta and Babita is described beautifully. The conservative mindset of society contrasted the love and concern of a father. The girls were rudely woken at 5 am, made to run kilometres and given grueling workouts. He made them wear oversized t-shirts and shorts, eat meat despite being vegetarian and cropped their hair short. Their cousin, Omkar, starred by Aparshakti Khurana, played a critical role in their development into wrestlers.

Sceptical event organisers initially rejected their bid to wrestle with boys. One organiser gave in, thinking it will provide them with an audience but got the shock of their life when the boys, bigger than the girls were beaten to a pulp. This was the beginning of the girls' journey to qualify for Haryana state team and later in the national team.

Success at an early age breeds ego, and Geeta’s ego took better of her after she started training in National Institute of Sports, Patiala. She rejected her father’s methods for her coach’s methods. She realised her mistake after losing several international tournaments and reproached with Mahavir who restarted her coaching.  The Institute banned him from training her after they found out they were meeting secretly. So, he went through videos of tournaments to give her instructions and guide her over the phone.  Geeta regained her winning streak and finally won the gold in the Commonwealth Games 2010. Babita won the gold in CWG two years later.

The film brought about an emotional moment when the audience in screens across Dubai stood up for the national anthem, played at the end. The movie reminds us that love for our country crosses all barriers, and with a little push, no win is unachievable. 

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