Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The sad thing about Dangal

As Aamir Khan's Dangal goes out and about breaking more and more records by the day, there is this thing about the movie that has been nagging me for a while now.

Let me just start out by saying, I totally looooved watching it. It is a cleverly made movie that uses all your emotions in just the right way to make sure that you are thoroughly engrossed, and living each moment of the film. Not to mention the amazing soundtrack. Yeah I totally did soil a few handkerchiefs, stood up for the National Anthem and gave a rousing applause when Geeta won(No, I'm not ashamed of expressing myself in public). It is evident how much effort has gone into the making of this movie. The fights appear authentic, and the village scenes real. Each and every person involved with the making appears to have put in his/her bit in making this movie worth a watch.

And it does a good job sending out the message that girls are no less than boys. A father standing up to an entire conservative village for training his girls to be wrestlers is a feat that is not commonly heard of in Northern India, where Khap panchayats still rule the roost. It also does well to show our nation's apathy in supporting any sporting talent other than cricket, leave alone that involving women.

But no, this is really not a movie about women empowerment, nor about breaking the patriarchy, as many have made it out to be. This movie is about a man, Mahavir Singh Phogat, and the lengths that he will go to to have his dream of an international wrestling gold fulfilled. It is just incidental that his progeny happen to be of the female kind. He probably would have done the same if he had boys. I do not know what the real Mahavir Singh Phogat wanted to do, but the one in the movie certainly didn't want to break any patriarchal norms. This movie is about his blind ambition and his devotion in trying to fulfill it. Patriarchy was just getting in his way.

Frame by frame, this movie is a dedication to the acting prowess of Aamir Khan, the perfectionist. The female actors, though significant, never really come out of his shadow. This is mostly how movies starring Aamir Khan are made. He towers over everything else. But, it would have been nice if for once, the actual gold medalist, Geeta Phogat had been given more credit.

The thing that saddened me the most was the 'sanskaari' undertone of the film. The thing about Indian culture, where parents must not be questioned. Where children have, as a rule not much choice in how they want to dress, what career they want to choose, who they want to love.

It was just sad to see how everyone reacted to the fight between Phogat Sr. and Geeta when she came back from the camp. As a parent, and as a teacher, I would be very disappointed if my kids did not come up to me and told me that 'look mom! I can do this better'. If they grew up to be yes men, unable to ask me "but why??'.

It saddened me that Geeta's exploring of her femininity by wearing longer hair leads her to lose matches. Is that not a form of suppression? The same kind of suppression where women who explore their sexuality become whores or those who wear make up become brainless bimbos. The same mentality that makes people believe that a good looking, successful woman must have slept her way up.

It saddened me that Geeta was so helpless without her father. Isn't it a gross injustice to the talent and hard work of the real Geeta Phogat? To make her look worthless if she has to do it on her own. That a woman of her caliber must be portrayed as a failure if not for her father. And the cheap theatrics employed by using a caricature of a wrestling coach.

It is my job as a parent to raise kids who can lead a good life on their own. They must work hard, take their own decisions, make mistakes and learn. There is no other way. It would be a sad sad day in my life if I had a prodigy of a kid who spent its life just being my protege, and never really could make it on its own. Sad indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Aamir Khan by making this movie must have inspired countless number of girls to take the sport of wrestling hitherto thought to be a men's domain. The parents always try to give best to their kids by sacrificing all their desires. Mahavir Singh Phogat wouldn't have found any coach for his daughters and he resigned from his job and also spent all his savings in furthering the promising carrier of his daughters. Somewhere Mahavir Singh Phogat ego must have been hurt when Geeta praises the coach. Feminism has nothing to do with keeping hairs or not it's all about being feminine emotionally and behaviourally. Congrats Gudiya for your views on Dangal


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