Do you still love the things that you used to in your childhood? Some aspects like food and films changes as our tastes and perspective changes. My perspective and love for films – from “enjoying movies” to “understanding cinema”, has changed tremendously. Many movies that I loved as a child, now I find them stupid. Yet, there are few exceptions. Some that not only rewards your sincerity of childhood and entertains you, but also keeps a vast amount of layers for the maturity in your adulthood to explore. One such fine example is Swades.
But of course, I can’t talk about it today. There’s this certain person and the brand of cinema that he brings in, which has stood through my tastes and still emerge as my favorite. Mr. Aamir Khan.
Khan’s choice of films mostly follows a simple rule – make a socially relevant film that depends more on the writing and direction than on him, and add dolops of crowd-pleasing moments. Dangal follows the same rule. It induces enough humor to take you through the initial parts of the film, and brings the patriotism within us as it wraps up. The genius of Dangal is not this, but what lies beneath all this.
The way it treated the sports (wrestling) is one of them. While Sultan over-simplified the sports for its audience, Dangal knows it never has to do the same. It invokes the love for the said sport even if you didn’t have it before. It is what makes Chak De! India an instant classic. Both these films maintained a fine balance between the sports and the drama, which made them shine in this genre of sports drama. It’s a feat that even a film like M.S Dhoni – The Untold Story, which had a huge undue advantage, couldn’t achieve. But how did it create an engaging drama?
A strict father is tormenting his daughters just to make his wish come true. In real life, this was possibly a nightmare for the kids. But here, it is shown with Haanikarak Bapu playing in the background, making the entire sequence light and funny. It is only when we see the pain in the eyes of Mahavir as he tries to massage the girl’s legs when they are asleep, that we realize how hard it is for him to do what he does. As the film progresses, it becomes Geeta’s story because only when she wins the Gold first, that one realizes the magnitude of a goal she has just achieved. This is screenwriting at its best.
Still,Dangal is very authentic with its sport but not with the story. Mahavir is shown training just the two girls, while in reality he trains all his 4 girls and also his niece. The niece is used as a mere comic relief. The characterization of the coach and parts of the climax is completely overblown. And yet, you don’t care. Writers Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehrotra and Nitesh Tiwari are not interested in telling just one story. He creates fiction so that he can cover all that is wrong with our condition in sports and stuff in more social messages. Just the thought of a film wherein every wrestling match of all the seven Phogats is shown, fails to sound interesting. With these commercial tropes being added, Dangal then benefits from its widest possible reach, like every Aamir film.
A common accusation on Khan is that he interferes a lot in the process of filmmaking. I think it would have been impossible to get a film like this if there was a friction in creativity. Parts of the film completely echoes director Nitesh Tiwari’s previous films Chillar Party and Bhoothnath Returns. His knack with bringing the best of performances from children is matched only by Amole Gupte. The film, specially in the first half, actually depends on these child actors – Zaira Wasim (Geeta), Suhani Bhatnagar (Babita) and Ritvik Sahore (Omkar) who bring the innocence and humor just right. Aamir takes a backseat most of the times and shines only when he is meant to. The true genius here then turns out to be Mukesh Chhabra for a pitch perfect casting. The film could have derailed completely, if the casting wasn’t done right.
What Aamir does great apart from his performance is that he collaborates with the best talent. He doesn’t care about the commercial viability of the people he’s working with. But he does make sure he’s working with people who share the passion for cinema that he has. Industry perceives him as a “risk taker”. But perhaps only Aamir knows that keeping content forward is a necessity, not a risk.
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