Much like Sultan earlier this year, Dangal is a very, very predicable film. Every point to be made is spelt out, often twice for impact. This is not to say that the points are well thought out – they are – or are not relevant – they are – but the treatment is exactly as expected, exactly as done in any other film of its genre
Underdog, patriotism, comeback story, fight and make-up, father as coach, gender equality – Dangal, directed by Nitesh Tiwari, wrestles with every sports film cliché you can think of. It will have the audience rooting for it, undoubtedly. But that does not mean it emerges triumphant at the end.
There are no faults with the film given the ambition it has. The screenplay is fluid, orchestrating solid performances and obvious plot points towards an ending that is expected from the moment the film began. The writing plays to the gallery. The production values are top class, and the setting as authentic as can be. The wrestling sequences are superbly shot, be it in the akhada or in the stadium. Editing a narrative that is so straightforward poses no great challenge, and there are no problems in that department either. In what it sets out to achieve, Dangal is a near flawless film.
But Dangal is also problematic. Much like Sultan earlier this year, Dangal is a very, very predicable film. Every point to be made is spelt out, often twice for impact. This is not to say that the points are well thought out – they are – or are not relevant – they are – but the treatment is exactly as expected, exactly as done in any other film of its genre. The mellifluous nature of the film sorely needed attitude, some character that makes it stand out. Think Chak De!, and the razor sharp treatment that accompanied the film. This is the risk that the film does not take. It wallows in the comfort of the familiar. It refuses the hardship of adventure, and as a result, does not grow in stature, but plateaus with time.
Aamir Khan should have been the man to take the leap. His directorial debut was an epitome of taking a chance within the restrictive confines of Bollywood, and he was handsomely rewarded for it. He went a magnificent step further with Delhi Belly, a genre breaker of a film that stands even today in a space no other Hindi film has dared to venture in. He is known to take chances with the choice of films he associates himself with. If there was anyone who could take a sports film in India, and make it a Moneyball instead of a Lagaan, it would be him. But Dangal is not that film.
Hindi, Drama, Sports, Color