In a year that saw girls ruling India's show at the Rio Olympics, it's but apt that a film glorifying women's achievements in the wrestling arena be made.
And that brings Dangal (which means wrestling) for you, with two girls and their father putting up a resolute fight against the society and finally waging the ultimate battle on the wrestling ring.
Aamir Khan reprises the real-life character of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler, who hopes that his offspring would achieve his dream of winning a gold medal for the country.
And like the average Indian husband, he pins all his hopes on his wife bearing a son. The entire village making conspiracies in hush-hush tones so that Mahavir will be blessed with a baby boy is a social issue presented in a sugar-coated manner. Their numerous 'tactics' fail to help Mahavir and he gets a household full of girls.
But a street brawl puts Mahavir in his senses and his two elder daughters are literally dragged out of their mama's lap and pushed into rigorous training. Mahavir's first battle is against his own daughters – Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar) – who use every trick in the book to get better of their papa dearest. The delightful song 'Haanikarak Baapu' – sung by Sarwar Khan, Sartaz Khan Barna & Saddy Ahmad – sets the right mood as kids huff and puff through the tasks.
The movie moves ahead taking crisp strides and before long, the little daughters blossom into the wrestlers their father had dreamed of. Post intermission, the movie concentrates on the battles that take place outside the wrestling ring for which one can seldom be prepared.
Director Nitesh Tiwari, who has co-written the movie, brings us a neatly packaged film that focuses purely on wrestling and his wrestlers. There is little dramatization and but for some plot holes, the movie can be called near-perfect. Tiwari narrates a honest sporting tale and even gave the almost-mandatory 'Bollywood mantra of ishq' a skip.
Aamir Khan too should be credited for taking a step back in the film. There are no starry airs here and except for an introductory fight, Aamir's Mahavir shies away from making any heroic statements. He sticks to his role of a father, who has to keep his parenting feelings under check, for the greater glory of his daughters. And the star doesn't disappoint.
Matching steps with Mr Perfectionist are four girls. Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar as the little kids bring an earnest performance that will easily win your hearts. The older version of the children, played by Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra, too do not miss a beat. Ritwik Sahore as Mahavir's simpleton nephew and Sakshi Tanwar as his loyal wife fit perfectly into their roles.
All the songs by Pritam gel well with the movie and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya is sure to make you chuckle.
The wrestling scenes look original and infuse a raw energy that would want you to root for the girls' victory.
The tale of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters is a story that needs to be told and team Dangal should be lauded for doing that right.
Don't miss this one!
Onmanorama Rating: 3.5/5