Trailer:

Dangal manages to engage the viewer with the wrestling tournaments and bring patriotic emotions to the fore.

Critic’s Rating: 4.5/5

Dangal is both inspiring and entertaining

Dangal Story: When Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir), a wrestler from Haryana, loses hope of having a son, he trains his daughters Geeta (Fatima) and Babita (Sanya) to make wrestling history, thus breaking the taboo of Indian women participating in a sport thus far dominated by men.

Dangal (English: Wrestling competition) is a 2016 Indian Hindi-language biographical sports drama film, directed by Nitesh Tiwari and produced by Aamir Khan, under his studio Aamir Khan Productions with UTV Motion Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures India. The film is loosely based on the Phogat family, telling the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler, who trains his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari to become India’s first world-class female wrestlers. Aamir Khan stars as Mahavir Singh Phogat, while Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra portray the adult versions of the two Phogat sisters, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar their younger versions, Sakshi Tanwar their mother, and Aparshakti Khurana their cousin.

The development of the film began in early 2013 when Tiwari began writing the screenplay. In 2014, Khan had invited and interviewed the Phogat sisters on his talk show Satyamev Jayate, before Tiwari approached him with the script months later, after which Khan became the lead actor and producer. Set primarily in the Indian State of Haryana, principal photography commenced in September 2015 in neighbouring Punjab. Satyajit Pande served as the cinematographer and Ballu Saluja as the editor. Pritam scored the film’s background music and for its soundtrack, lyrics for which were written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. Kripa Shankar Bishnoi, a coach with the Indian women’s wrestling team, trained Khan and the cast for the wrestling sequences.

After a North America premiere on 21 December 2016, Dangal was released worldwide on 23 December and received positive reviews from critics; praise centred on the film’s “honest” depiction of a real-life story and Khan’s performance. It was also screened at the Beijing International Film Festival in April 2017 and second BRICS festival in June 2017. At the 62nd Filmfare Awards, it won four awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Khan) and Best Action(Shyam). At the 64th National Film Awards, Wasim won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Geeta’s younger self. Overseas, Dangal won the inaugural Best Asian Film award at Australia’s 7th AACTA Awards, as well as 2017’s Best Foreign Film and Top Foreign Actor (for Aamir Khan) from China’s Douban Film Awards, and was nominated in the Asian Brilliant Stars category at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival.

The film was a record-breaking commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing Indian film ever, the fifth highest grossing non-English film ever, and 2017’s highest-grossing sports film worldwide. Produced on a budget of ₹70 crore (US$10 million), the film grossed ₹2,100–2,200 crore(US$330 million) worldwide, including $216.2 million in China,becoming one of the country’s top 20 highest-grossing films and the highest-grossing non-English foreign film in China. The film has also been watched more than 400 million times on Chinese streaming platforms.

Plot

Mahavir Singh Phogat is a former amateur wrestler and national champion residing in Balali. He was forced by his father to give up the sport in order to obtain gainful employment. Dejected that he could not win a medal for his country, he vows that his unborn son will. Disappointed upon having four daughters, he gives up hope. But when his older daughters Geeta and Babita come home after beating up two boys in response to derogatory comments, he realises their potential to become wrestlers and begins coaching them.

His methods seem harsh, including gruelling early morning workouts and short haircuts. Despite facing a backlash from the villagers, he goes ahead with them, training them in his makeshift mud pit. Initially, the girls resent their father for his treatment but soon realise that he cares for their future. Motivated, they willingly participate in wrestling tournaments where they defeat boys. Unable to afford wrestling mats, he uses mattresses and trains them in freestyle wrestling to prepare them for competitive events. Geeta goes on to win the junior and senior championships at the state and national level before heading to the National Sports Academy in Patiala to train for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

Once there, Geeta makes friends and begins to disregard the discipline she has been taught by Mahavir. Her coach’s training methods and wrestling techniques completely differ from her father’s. As a result, she loses every match at the international level. During a visit home, she defeats her visibly exhausted father in a ferocious bout after mocking him. Babita reminds Geeta of her mistake and that she should respect Mahavir. Soon after, Babita wins the national championship and follows Geeta to the academy. After the two sisters have an emotional conversation in which Babita provides her encouragement, Geeta tearfully makes peace with her father.

Before the Commonwealth Games, Geeta’s coach forces her to compete in the 51 kg weight class rather than her usual 55 kg. Irritated upon learning this, Mahavir goes to Patiala with his nephew and begins coaching the girls secretly. Learning about this, and furious with Mahavir’s interference, the coach wants the girls expelled; the sports authority issues a warning but allows them to continue. Mahavir is barred from entering the academy, and the girls are forbidden to go out. Determined to continue assisting his daughters, Mahavir obtains tapes of Geeta’s previous unsuccessful bouts and coaches her by pointing out her errors over the phone.

At the Games, competing in the 55 kg class, Geeta eases her way into the final. Mahavir constantly contradicts her coach’s instructions while sitting in the audience, which she follows. Just before the gold medal bout, the jealous coach conspires to lock Mahavir in a closet.

In the bout, Geeta manages to win the first session but loses the second. Trailing 1–5 in the final session and with nine seconds left, she recalls the tactics taught by her father and a 5-pointer, and executes it on her opponent in the final three seconds, taking the score to 6–5 in her favour, thus winning the session, and the bout 2–1. In the process, she becomes the first Indian female wrestler to win gold at the Games. Mahavir returns just in time to embrace his daughters, frustrating the coach’s hopes of obtaining credit before the news media.

Cast

  • Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat
  • Sakshi Tanwar as Daya Shobha Kaur, Mahavir’s wife
  • Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat, Mahavir’s oldest daughter
    • Zaira Wasim as Young Geeta Phogat
  • Sanya Malhotra as Babita Kumari, Mahavir’s second daughter
    • Suhani Bhatnagar as Young Babita Kumari
  • Aparshakti Khurana as Omkar
    • Ritwik Sahore as Young Omkar
  • Girish Kulkarni as Pramod Kadam, coach at the National Sports Academy
  • Vivan Bhatena as Harkinder, Mahavir’s colleague
  • Kaustubh Pile as Male fighter no.2
  • Shishir Sharma as Head of Department of the National Sports Academy
  • Meenu Prajapati as Geeta’s friend at the National Sports Academy
  • Badrul Islam as Owner of the meat shop 
  • Karmveer Choudhary as Mahaveer Singh Phogat’s father

Production

Development

In 2012, Divya Rao, a member of Disney’s creative team, read a newspaper article about Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trained his daughters to become world champions. She thought this would make for a great film, and spoke about this to Siddharth Roy Kapur and other Disney personnel. Disney approached Nitesh Tiwari to write and direct the story. Tiwari met Phogat and his daughters, who instantly agreed to tell the story. Tiwari worked on the screenplay for close to a year before going to Ronnie Screwvala, the CEO of UTV Motion Pictures, and Kapur with the final script, while suggesting that Aamir Khan play Phogat.

Months prior to being approached for with the script, Aamir Khan had invited the Phogat sisters onto his television talk show Satyamev Jayate, interviewing them on the first episode of season three in 2014.A few months after he interviewed them on Satyamev Jayate, he was approached by Tiwari Kapur and Tiwari went to Khan with the story, and Khan loved it in its first narration. Khan had just finished Dhoom 3 and had begun shooting for PK. He wanted to do the film after 5–10 years when he would turn 60 because the role demanded him to be 55 and he was still doing younger roles. But the story remained in his mind and a few months later, he called up Tiwari and asked him to narrate the script once again.

After the release of PK in 2014, Aamir Khan announced that he would play the role of a wrestler in his next film titled Dangal directed by Nitesh Tiwari, a cinematographic biography of the former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat. It would be produced by Khan himself and Disney India. Khan said to reporters, “Nitesh has written a wonderful story. The topic is very important, it’s very dramatic. It highlights the discrimination that is meted out to the girl child in India. The best part is that he has done it in a very entertaining manner. The heart of the story is emotional, but it also has a lot of humour. Raju Hirani has this unique way to tell a story where he says something socially very relevant but he tells his story in a very entertaining manner. Similarly, Nitesh has written a very entertaining lovely script, the dialogues are very entertaining. Each time I listen to the dialogues, I laugh a lot. I cry as well as laugh.”

In March 2015, Junior Indian women’s wrestling team coach Kripa Shankar Patel Bishnoi was approached by Aamir Khan Productions to train Khan and the entire crew of Dangal. Bishnoi said about the film in a Hindustan Times interview, “Very few Indians encourage women for wrestling, especially because of the uniform. This film will change that perception too. People would hopefully want to see their daughters taking up wrestling as a sport.”

Khan lost some weight and took Haryanvi lessons and dialect training for the film.He played two distinct roles in the film: the 60-year-old wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, and the 20-year-old version of Phogat. Khan reportedly gained 30 kg and weighs 98 kg to play the role of the older Phogat, then lost the weight to play the younger role in Dangal. The film was produced on a budget of ₹70 crore(US$10 million).

Casting

In March 2015, Taapsee Pannu, Deeksha Seth and Akshara Haasan were being considered for the roles of Khan’s on-screen daughters. In April, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra were cast as the daughters, who hailed from the Jat community of Balali village of Bhiwani, Haryana. Geeta Phogat had participated in the London Olympics in 2012. Babita won gold in 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.In June 2015, child actors Zaira Wasim (from Kashmir) and Suhani Bhatnagar (from Delhi) were roped in for Dangal.Ayushmann Khurrana’s brother Aparshakti Khurrana was also cast.Mukesh Chhabra was the casting director of Dangal. Vikram Singh was recruited to play the role of the villain.Aamir Khan’s nephew Pablo (son of Mansoor Khan) was the film’s assistant director.Mallika Sherawat auditioned for a role. In August 2015, Rajkumar Rao, who previously worked with Aamir Khan in Talaash, was approached for an important role in Dangal. Finally, after auditioning 70 actresses for the role, Sakshi Tanwar was brought on as Daya Kaur, the wife of Mahavir Singh Phogat. Ananya was chosen to play Sangita, the youngest daughter of Mahavir Phogat. In October 2015, Vivan Bhatena was selected to play a negative role in the film.n an interview in January 2017, Divya Rao stated, if Aamir Khan had declined the role, the only other choices would have been Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan.

For the film’s Tamil language dub, Aamir Khan initially approached Rajinikanth to voice his role. Despite Rajinikanth enjoying the film, they both eventually decided against it, as they found Rajinikanth’s voice to be too recognizable to go along with Khan’s appearance.

Filming

The shooting schedule of Dangal began on 1 September 2015. The villages of Ludhiana were given a Haryanvi transformation. The shooting took place in the villages of Gujjarwal, Narangwal, Kila Raipur, Dango and Leel in Punjab and Haryana. The village of Dango, which is in the Pakhowal Tehsil in Ludhiana, is veteran actor Dharmendra’s ancestral village.

From September 2015 to December 2015, Aamir Khan gained 9% fat, weighing around 98 kg for Dangal, and from January 2016 to April 2016, he regained the shape that he had opted for in Dhoom 3 and will hear the script for next future films, halting shooting of Dangal for said period.

The first scene was taken on 21 September 2015 in Ludhiana with the presences of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his both daughters Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari.

On 14 November 2015, while shooting in Ludhiana, Khan suffered minor injuries resulting in muscle spasms in his back. On 20 November 2015, Khan collapsed after sustaining a shoulder injury on the set. After suffering an injury Aamir Khan resumes shooting in Pune on 9 December 2015.

The team filmed in and around stadiums at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune. At the time, the complex hosted the 2015 Roll Ball World Cup, and athletes of the Netherlands national rollerball team and Slovenia women’s national roll ball team were recruited to play background athletes in the film. The team also shot some portions of the film in Symbiosis International University, Pune.

On 19 January 2016, Khan and the entire crew of the film shot in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium, to film wrestling sequences. The crew then moved to Thyagaraj Stadium to shoot sequences of Commonwealth Games and National Games. The first schedule of shooting was also done in schools and in Dango village, located in Pakhowal Tehsil in Ludhiana.

The second schedule of the film started on 16 June 2016 at the Akhada Leel near Toosa village, in Ludhiana district. It is one of the largest villages in Punjab, India. Khan said, “When I came to Ludhiana, I was very fat. At that time, we shot for the scenes where Mahavir has become old. 85 per cent of the film is about his ‘old’ look only. Now we are shooting for the portion when Mahavir was young.”

With the film being set in multiple decades, the cinematographer Satyajit Pande and colourist Ashirwad Hadkar experimented with a number of tests for skin tones and costumes during the pre-production stage. Natural light was majorly employed in the film. To portray the 1980s, the “sources [were kept] white hot and the skin tones yellow-warm” for the day sequences, and “a consistent bulb warm tone was maintained” for the night sequences. With varying colour temperatures in the process of filming over an entire day starting early mornings till late evenings, visual effects plates were used and digital intermediate process employed.

Soundtrack

Dangal
Soundtrack album by Pritam
Released 14 December 2016
Recorded 2015–16
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 30:33
Language Hindi, Tamil, Telugu
Label Zee Music
Producer Aamir Khan
Kiran Rao
Siddharth Roy Kapur
Pritam chronology
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
(2016)
Dangal
(2016)
Jagga Jasoos
(2017)
Singles from Dangal
  1. “Haanikaarak Bapu”
    Released: 12 November 2016
  2. “Dhaakad”
    Released: 23 November 2016
  3. “Gilehriyaan”
    Released: 30 November 2016
  4. “Dangal”
    Released: 8 December 2016

The film’s music is composed by Pritam. Lyrics are penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya in Hindi, and Rajesh Malaravannan in Tamil. Daler Mehndisangg a song in the film. The film’s soundtrack album is set to have a Japanese release published by Rambling Records on 13 April 2018.

Hindi track list

No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. “Haanikaarak Bapu” Sarwar Khan & Sartaz Khan Barna, Saddy Ahmad(additional vocals: Kheta Khan & Dayam Khan) 4:22
2. “Dhaakad” Raftaar 2:56
3. “Gilehriyaan” Jonita Gandhi 3:40
4. “Dangal” Daler Mehandi 4:59
5. “Naina” Arijit Singh 3:45
6. “Dhaakad” (Aamir Khan version) Aamir Khan 2:56
7. “Idiot Banna” Nooran Sisters 4:08
8. “Naina (Female)” Neha Kakkar 3:47
Total length: 30:33
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