Watched Aamir Khan’s “best film ever” yet? Think every reviewer worth his salt in this part of the world got so swayed by Dangal that they glossed over the film’s weaknesses? The jury is still out there on this, but some foreign reviewers haven’t been as kind to the film, a few even slamming it for being formulaic and crowd-pleasing.
Based on the life of former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, Dangal is the story of a father who fights against the society and its norms to raise his daughters as tough, medal-winning wrestlers. While Aamir Khan plays Mahavir in the film directed by Nitesh Tiwari, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra play his two elder daughters Geeta and Babita Phogat.
Let us take a look at what the critics have to say:
Slamming it for being too formulaic, New York Times’ Ben Kenigberg writes that wherever Dangal goes, “it goes there in the maximalist Bollywood style, with emotions set to full blast and its heart firmly on its sleeve.”
Calling Dangal “a one-trick domestic sports drama that drags on for two hours and 40 minutes”, Owen Gleiberman of Variety invokes other Aamir Khan films (Lagaan and PK) to highlight the length of the film, but adds that Dangal does not quite justify it.
“If the movie has a theme, it’s that Mahavir is a patriarchal thinker forced, by circumstance, to move into the 21st century. He’s a lot like India itself,” Owen writes, adding, “That means, among other things, that he’s going to treat his daughters with no mercy. When they’re teenagers, he subjects them to a grueling training regimen (worst restriction: no spicy food), and the defining moment comes when he cuts off their hair. It’s a lot like a Marine cut; as the two see it, they’ve been shorn (tearfully) of their identities, which their father will now rebuild from the ground up. There is — or could have been — a resonance to all of this. But Nitesh Tiwari, the director of “Dangal,” works strictly on the surface.”
Labelling Dangal as “crowd-pleasing” film, Mike McCahill writes for The Guardian, “As with most of this Khan’s crowdpleasers, it’s acutely attuned to wider realities: beyond the mat, the Singhs encounter superstition, child brides and institutional slackness, each sidebar reflecting a social struggle.”
“Very solid, very sound entertainment, with thumpingly good Pritam songs that make Eye of the Tiger seem like pipsqueakery,” Mike adds.
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