Dangal (2016) starring Aamir Khan

NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review.

Indian superstar Aamir Khan is known as a perfectionist, even when it comes to posters.  When I lived in NYC, I used to regularly attend monthly meetings of SAWCC (South Asian Women’s Creative Collective); though I wasn’t an artist (like most of the women), I wanted to meet interesting desis.  One night, we had a presentation by the young lady who’d worked as the main graphic artist on Lagaan (before moving to the U.S.)  She was working late in her Mumbai studio, when Aamir Khan called her up re: a small change to one of the poster designs.  Wow, talk about attention to detail!

Young Mahavir (Aamir Khan) gets ready for a wrestling match.

This film will definitely hold the viewers’ attention, even more so than Lagaan, thanks in part to its exciting/tense action sequences.  But this isn’t a historical epic, it’s a (real-life) family story, which MAY be even more compelling to some of you who regularly read this blog.  I didn’t know anything about the story before going to see it last week, aside from the fact that Aamir had gained and lost a LOT of weight for his role.  I later learned that three out of the four (VERY natural) young actresses in the film hadn’t acted before!  I esp. liked the chemistry between the two girls who played the sisters as pre-teens, as well as the charm of their older teen boy cousin. 

Life is sink or swim- a lesson that Mahavir wants his daughters to learn.

Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan), a former national wrestling champion, wins medals and respect in the ’80s.  Unfortunately, he never gets the opportunity to prove himself on the world stage; there is NOT enough money/resources dedicated to his sport.  He loves wresting, so he spends time training other men in the mud pits of his village.  After a time, Mahavir settles into married life (w/ his wife Daya, played by Shakshi Tanwar) and a desk job in his home region of Hariyana.  He has high hopes for a son, whom he plans to teach to be an even better wrestler than himself, and win gold for India. 

Young Geeta is cheered by surprised locals after winning matches.

His wife gives birth to four daughters though the years.  Mahavir’s family and his small community is disappointed, thinking that the dream for wrestling glory is dead.  But after his two eldest girls, Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and Babita (Suhani Bhatnager), beat up two local boys who insulted them, Mahavir is spurred into action.  His daughters will become wrestlers under his coaching!  Gold is still gold, Mahavir is bold enough to think, and who’s to say that a girl can’t win one!?  Watch the trailer below.


5 thoughts on “Dangal (2016) starring Aamir Khan

  1. This film was released by Disney (if you saw trailer, might’ve noticed); that means it’s meant to go mainstream. You can see it w/ the whole fam also, provided they ALL have patience to watch something over 2 hrs & 30 mins long (LOL)! My mom & one of her good friends saw it earlier this week and liked it a LOT; the friend even cried. This is V rare b/c my mom avoids Bollywood; her friend is NOT the emotional type at all!


  2. This one is actually playing at a big screen in our town and non-Asians are going to see it. I know this because I was at the local Indian buffet yesterday (we have two Indian restaurants) and it was totally crowded. I asked the waiter what was going on and he said they’ve been getting a lot of extra business from the movie. Apparently people see it and want to try Indian food.


    • Oh yeah, most def (b/c have read a few IMDB reviews incl from non-desis! It’s showing in the big theaters (Regal) all over, but that’s been going on w/ Bollywood films for about 2 yrs now in my county.


      • We’re too small for Regal — we have a regional chain serving us. This is the first Bollywood film I’ve seen them show here, although they might show them in their bigger markets.


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