Aamir Khan plays a wrestler in Dangal.
Aamir Khan plays a wrestler in Dangal.

Dangal: How Aamir Khan turns formulae into Bollywood milestones

Hindustan Times | By Sweta Kaushal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 10, 2017 08:58 PM IST

Four days after his latest film, Dangal, hit theatres, the hysteria around what many are calling Aamir Khan’s finest performances is showing no signs of ebbing any time soon. Aamir aside, the film, directed by Nitesh Tiwari, is already sitting pretty on top of Bollywood’s pile of best films ever.

The credit, without doubt, is again Aamir’s: You don’t need to be a hardcore fan to admit that his films are not boring or preachy even while dealing with a social message; that he never goes for crass jokes or masochistic elements to ensure his films are both entertaining and make money.

We take a look at some key moments in Dangal that were pure formulaic in nature and perfectly fit the bill of a typical Bollywood masala entertainer.


The ‘protest’ of the daughters

The so-called protest of Geeta and Babita in Dangal is more tokenism than anything else. They try fooling Mahavir (Aamir) for a day and soon they are made to realise why they must obey their dad. The tokenism of the protest exists simply for the masala value you get from a “bagaavati aulaad”.

Being thankful for being treated as humans

In a sequence, Geeta and Babita’s friend tells them that they must be grateful to their dad as he hasn’t married them off at a young age and instead wants them to pursue wrestling and make a mark for themselves. The sudden gravity that the film acquires, builds up the melodrama in Dangal.

Turning daughters into sons, coz daughters aren’t tough enough

Mahavir forces his daughters to build muscles so that they fulfil his dream. He gets angry at the slightest indication of any feminity about them. And that is fine, because daughters are not tough. If you’ve gotta win medals in wrestling, you can’t be dancing like a girl! Traditionally, we hail women turning ‘manly’ as fighters - so the filmmakers aren’t the one to be blamed.

The reconciliation with ‘old’ techniques

During her journey, Geeta acquires new skills and techniques but she gives it up for her dad’s old techniques. In fact she starts losing her matches after she loses touch with her ‘roots’. Because, sanskaar. That’s what works with our moral conscience as a society.

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