Dangal- Movie Review
Posted by Vivek on December 23, 2016 | No Comments
FILM – Dangal
PRODUCER – Siddharth Roy Kapur, Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao (producer), Amrita Pandey (co-producer)
DIRECTOR – Nitesh Tiwari
WRITER – Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehrotra, Nitesh Tiwari
CAST – Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar , Daya Kaur, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra
MUSIC – Pritam Chakraborty
For some reason, watching Dangal seemed less like watching a full-bodied film and more like sitting through a montage video stitched with a voice-over. This is not to take away from the merits of the film, which are many, but just to emphasise that despite these merits there is something crucial missing in the film making it lesser than what it could have been.
But first let us talk about the merits. After a long time, we have a star vehicle film that appears solid and is unapologetically but unpretentiously rooted in its setting. It is a mainstream product that aims higher than mere pandering to the lowest common denominator. It is well-written, not shy of engagement through smiles or tears, well-performed, not shy of engaging in silences or shadows, and well-directed, not shy of engaging in details. It is a story told with a lot of heart and skill; the wrestling matches are sleek and tight, both in composition and cutting, quite a joy to watch and root for.
Aamir plays a rustic, pot-bellied, father on a mission with a studied restraint that is pleasing to watch. He is surrounded by new or less popular faces and together they sincerely create a fictitious world that is real enough. For a biopic, it does suitable justice to its setting and characters’ journeys from nothing to something, keeping the thread of emotional engagement alive. For a sports film it is predictable by default, sports films have to be a certain way.
For a dramatic film though, somehow it is simply not powerful enough. We never get to go beyond a certain point in the emotional journeys the protagonists take a factor that cannot be separated from their external journeys. The characters, including Mahavir Singh (Aamir’s character), the stoic patriarch on whose impossible dream hinges the entire film, stop mattering to us even as we know what the outcome of the games is going to be. Because more than a wish here and there, we really don’t know what the characters are about, so instead of rooting for them, we begin rooting for the game. We want them to win the game of course, we just don’t care enough for them to win the game.
This emotional distance, perhaps, comes from a certain distance built by montage-like mini scenes with a narrative voice-over rather than bigger, more developed scenes that unfold real-time. Even in flashback, it tries hard to create a balance between the stories of Mahavir Singh and his girls but ends up taking us only through the motions of the final victory, the external and the internal one. We do not live Mahavir Singh’s despair or the girls’ struggles, we just see it and it is not enough despite some beautifully natural
performances by the entire female cast, young and old, especially Sakshi Tanwar, who plays the silently supportive mother and dutiful, caring wife with tenderness.
The film tries to piggy back on the women empowerment theme but weaves it in subtly enough to simply touch the message and not embody it. The film firmly stays with what it is about – story of a man who made his daughter a gold medallist female wrestler by sheer grit. It brings cheer in celebrating real life heroes while telling their story with heart and although short-lived, by the end that suffices.