Beating the demonetisation blues, Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal is doing brisk business across Haryana. The fact that the Haryana government has waived entertainment tax on this wrestling biopic is adding to the footfall at cinema halls.
The film, which reportedly registered the biggest single day collections ever in India on Sunday and surpassed the ₹100-crore mark on its opening weekend, is based on wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his journey to make his daughters Geeta and Babita world champions in wrestling.
Although the movie has been winning accolades from all sections of society, the Dangal fever has gripped Balali, the native village of Phogats, the most, with many residents going to a theatre for the first time to watch a movie.
Special screenings have been organised for the villagers in Bhiwani, with pick-up and drop facility.
“What people are seeing on the screen, we have seen it all for real. And we can say it is all 100% true. His (Phogat’s) struggle cannot be defined in words,” said village sarpanch Anil Kumar.
“For the elderly people, who cannot leave the village, we are in talks to organise special screenings for them here,” he said.
Lauding the movie, 16-year-old Neha Sangwan, a budding wrestler from Balali, who takes inspiration from Geeta and Babita, said: “The wrestling moves they have shown in the movie look so real. I want to thank them (Phogat sisters) as because of them many girls like me took up wrestling.”
The movie has received equal appreciation from khaps, which are probably for the first time encouraging people to watch a film. “We had asked the government to make the movie tax-free and are thankful to them for accepting the demand. Such movies will promote slogans of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Beti Khilao,” said Narsingh Sangwan, 70, secretary of Sangwan khap, one of the most influential ones in Haryana.
A family movie, it’s running houseful
Even as five days have passed since the Nitesh Tiwari-directed movie was released, most halls screening it are running houseful.
“This is the first movie that has got such a huge response since the inception of our theatre,” said Firoz Ahmed, manager of Karnal-based multi-screen Movietime.
“In the past seven years, we have never seen family members of all ages coming together for a movie,” he said.
Mukesh Kumar, ticket counter in-charge at Glitz Cinemas in Kurukshetra, said: “All shows are running houseful since the movie was released. It’s a good family movie.”
In Sirsa, the lone multiplex, OHM Cine Garden, is reportedly receiving its 90% footfall thanks to Dangal.
“The ticket, which otherwise costs ₹100, is available for just ₹80 after the state government made the movie tax-free. Almost all shows are running houseful. Mostly families are coming to watch the movie. It is giving a good social message,” said multiplex owner Pankaj Khemka.
All shows in two cinema halls in Hisar —Sun City Cinema and Elite Cinema — are also running houseful.
Sun City Cinema manager Rajan Kumar said: “Mostly youths are turning up for the movie during the day and families are coming for the late show.”
An inspiration in patriarchal society
Geetika Jakhar, 31, the first woman wrestler to receive Arjuna Award, who watched the movie in Hisar where she is posted as a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), said: “The movie is very inspiring for women trying to make a career in wrestling. There was a time when wrestling conjured up images of fake WWE, but Bollywood movies like Dangal and Sultan have changed it.”
Geetika said the movie has also shown how the small state of Haryana has been producing best wrestlers.
“The movie shows that girls can fight against wrong traditions, and that they are on a par with boys,” said Nidhi Sharma, a student in Karnal.
Balwinder Singh Bali, a Hisar-based businessman who along with 20 other traders has ‘adopted’ 17 wrestling players, plans to take them for the movie.
“We have adopted players belonging to poor families and are providing them all facilities. I have booked tickets for a show on Monday so that these wrestlers can learn something positive and get inspired,” he said.
Rupinder Kaur Sidhu, 30, a Sirsa-based basketball coach, said: “This movie was much-wanted in this male-dominated land. Also the fact that it is about girls making their name in a male-dominated sport will help fighting stereotypes. I have asked all my students to watch the movie.”
Ramesh Chahal of Sirsa, 34, whose 11-year-old daughter Muskan is a national-level yoga and inline skating hockey player, said he could relate to Phogat’s character in the movie.
“In our Chahal khap, it was mandatory to have a son. But when my daughter won a national gold in yoga at the age of four-and-a-half years, the khap awarded her with Chahal Gaurav’. And after that no one asked me to have a son,” he said.
By: Hardik Anand, Neeraj Mohan, Bhaskar Mukherjee and Richa Sharma contributed to this article
“Although Aamir Khan’s movies are always a hit, people in Haryana are going to the movie to watch Phogats’ journey. Many like me didn’t know about their achievements. So, it’s a great way to connect to our state.”
Reema Hooda, 52, principal, Government Senior Secondary School, Rohtak
“Hard work always pays. The movie is all about the hard work put in by a man and his daughters. Everyone must go and watch it, as it proves that girls can outdo boys in any field.”
Nirmal Rani, 29, employed at a garments showroom, Hisar
“The movie is very inspiring. It has promoted an Indian sport in which women are doing well, while most other sports are male-dominated. It shows how girls can become international players despite having no access to proper facilities.”
Swapnil, 19, international yoga medalist, Sirsa
EMPOWERING CINEMA Khaps welcome the biopic on wrestler Phogat, his daughters with open arms