On Dangal, informally..

I somehow lack the motivation these days to write proper pieces (or even anything) on films these days. At least in terms of formal posts. I am therefore indulging in a bit of a compromise here. Dangal deserves its own post but I am just going to do informal ‘bullet points’ on the film. Having seen the first show of the film (at my end) I feel I should be reasonably quick to say something about it as well! So here goes ‘less than nothing’..

1) Dangal is excellent in terms of how it’s put together. The storytelling is economic, really no unnecessary scenes, everything counts here. It’s a gripping narrative throughout. But additionally it’s also at very many points a rather moving film. It obviously has all the highs one would associate with a sports subject but even more than these it has very involving emotional cues that are not trite in any sense. From a purely storytelling perspective it’s hard to see how this film could be bettered.

2) The performances are without doubt the key to the entire work. Because ultimately and even with everything I’ve just said about it there’s nothing particularly special about the subject. We know the story, we expect the dramatic arc it presents. If there are nonetheless surprises in many of the key moments these are sustained by the portrayals. The performances are uniformly good. Aamir’s is a very sincere outing here and he very convincingly plays the older part as well. It’s also a somewhat generous choice on his part as he is pivotal without quite being central beyond a point. To term this his best performance is going too far but it superbly matches the tone and pitch of this film. It is certainly an important star turn for him and at the risk of cliche it’s not easy to imagine his contemporaries being able to pull this off.

The heart and soul of the film however are the two sisters, both as children and then when they’re older. The portrayals are beautifully pitched in both cases and so well done that even when Aamir isn’t around there is no loss in the film’s world. Beyond this the relationships the two share with their father as well as with each other are extremely authentic and truly affecting.

3) Additionally the songs are very well integrated throughout, the small town details have been handled with great care, the lingo convinces, the interiors come off as genuine as the exteriors, the camerawork is always optimal.

4) Essentially I’m saying this is a very good film. It’s not an extraordinary one, the comparisons with Lagaan which some have made are a bit silly, this is a much more modest film but it does everything it attempts almost without fault. And once more what worked for me more than anything else was the emotional tug of the film or in turn the key performances of the father and the two daughters. I could possibly see it again but this film lacks nothing in terms of ‘entertainment’. This is the best commercial treatment the film could have been given without diluting the sincerity of the enterprise. I would be surprised if this didn’t have real staying power at the box office and didn’t threaten those highest benchmarks. The emotion of the film really carries one through and it’s rare to get this sort of film from Bollywood where the stress is usually much more on pure entertainment even on a good day. This film does everything including entertainment but there are no noteworthy cynical decisions here.

5) At the same time I am not going to overrate the film in the ways the Indian media usually does when it comes to certain subjects. The film’s liberalism while commendable is also nothing radical or particularly thought-provoking. It has a nice message of female empowerment (incidentally all the fad these days, Pink was another recent example) and I certainly understand that within the bounds of the subject they couldn’t have done much more with it but still there’s nothing to celebrate here in this sense. So yes good liberalism but it’s par for the course for its multiplex audiences. One doesn’t have to convince anyone with this message! This isn’t a problem with the film but it is one with its core audience (also represented by the media classes). The latter tend to celebrate liberal platitudes as pathbreaking commentary and when films truly do something darker or more provocative (Talaash is an example) suddenly no one is as charitable. Specially when twinned with the idea of this empowerment coming about in the context of a semi-rural or small town setting there is more than complacency involved in such an enterprise.

6) I must say as a bit of an aside that the one false note in the film was struck by the film’s Muslim character. He has a brief part but he’s stereotypical in a cringe-inducing way. Which is to say he isn’t a Desai Muslim stereotype but an in keeping with the present, a Hindutva one! I won’t flesh this out here, I of course don’t doubt the good intentions of the director but we sometimes absorb certain stereotypes without intending to. In an analogous sense I also had a problem with the lower caste character in Lagaan.

Besides this a twist in the climactic moments is very forced. The message at that point could have been conveyed with a more plausible plot device.

7) To repeat then this is not a film to be missed by any stretch. I don’t believe there’s a repeat value issue here. In fact it’s a great credit to the film that it seems completely fresh even with Sultan having released in the recent past. On the other hand the competition scenes while totally engrossing might have seemed ‘newer’ still without that earlier film. Those overlaps are unavoidable despite of course the obvious and overwhelming superiority of Dangal in every imaginable department of filmmaking. It’s certainly unfair that Sultan stole the idea to whatever degree it did.

And finally I’m not the greatest fan of sports films anywhere but this is probably the best Hindi work in this genre. Lagaan is undoubtedly better but I think it’s reductive to call Lagaan just a sports film. But that would be the only possible exception. In any case it’s not a film to be missed in the theater, it’s a significant addition to Aamir’s already important oeuvre since Lagaan, and it looks set to be another massive grosser for him. He certainly highlights once again that he’s really in a class of his own at the moment (as he has been for so long) in terms of his choices and his larger contributions.


112 Responses to “On Dangal, informally..”

  1. Interesting piece Satyam, and not surprising given the trailers (that is, I too was expecting a very good film but one that would somehow be “less” than the sum of all the accolades it would receive). I’ll be watching on Saturday and will doubtless have more to say then. (In general am in a bit of a Bollywood funk: most of the films seem so desultory even watching the trailers is a chore — Kaabil and Befikrey come to mind. I recently caught up with Udta Punjab and that was really good though…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally loved Udta Punjab. Will be watching Dangal in a couple of days.

      Loved Satyam’s write up.Awaiting yours. Can’t help but remember how you were one of the few social media commenters to give Mangal Pandey the credit it deserved rather than deriding it like many did.


    • Whatever one may say about the film (in my book it isn’t an all-time classic, although a very very good film and probably one of Aamir’s top 5 films in my book), it must be said that in the post-Bachchan era (post-Shakti one might say), no other Hindi actor has achieved such commercial success with such “worthy” films: only Fanaa, Dhoom 3, and perhaps Ghajini fall into the category of “normal” films, and the last of those wasn’t pandering the way the first two were. For the rest, Lagaan, RDB, Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots, PK, Dangal is a darn good run of quality films, with MP and Talaash the honorable failures/under-performers (I might add that Talaash itself grossed 90 crores, which is pretty remarkable when one considers the genre and the “spoiler effect”) – especially when one compares similar runs from SRK or Salman (not to mention that SRK has never had such a run: even at his peak he was hardly breaking the gross records with every second or third film – he just did it once, with DDLJ, his entire career, and even there there has been the writing out from history of Gadar, Raja Hindustani, one might add the under-appreciation of HAHK).

      By the way, I thought Aamir’s performance as the aging father was quite moving — the younger, authoritarian dad was more expected, but I was truly moved by the elderly, more vulnerable Phogat. In general this is a film that is the sum of its performances — a lot of praise has been garnered by the adult actresses, but the child-actors were fantastic, in particular both of those who played Geeta. The characters made the movie for me, not the (rather predictable, hardly path-breaking) politics (by now, even the biggest sexists in India are crying about female empowerment). And it is a very well-made film, I could watch this a number of times…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder what you thought of the older Geeta. I for one missed Zaira Wasim – the younger Geeta a lot. The older Geeta was terrific in that fight scene with Aamir, but otherwise, I found her performance a bit affected. This might probably be because Zaira’s act is so endearing.
        Also, the older Geeta is blindingly fair. Zaira is infinitely more beautiful, but she also manages to look like she indeed belongs to a modest family. The older Geeta has the look of affluence.

        Much has been said about the excellence of the casting, and i agree! But I’m not sure the older Geeta was the best choice.


      • Good note Qalandar. Saw it a second time today. It was a very absorbing film even the second time around. The fights too remain thrilling. And yes this is certainly one of Aamir’s most measured performances.


  2. The review is beautiful. So balanced.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m getting more of RDB vibe then a Lagaan. Potentially the cheer leading is possibly misplaced in parts but overall it will be embraced with a wave of emotion. Glad Rocky and you have really bought it back down to earth yet without putting me off or dimming my hopes!


  4. Thanks Satyam. I wasn’t convinced at all with the Lagaan comparisons, and I say this purely based on the theme of Dangal, which frankly, is not all that groundbreaking – as you point out. My fear for Dangal has been that it is somewhat a one track film, which can make it structurally flat.


    • I didn’t find it flat at all.. it was absorbing throughout for me. Ultimately all sports films do become a bit one-track in this sense. Because whatever the complexity of the world within which those further champions emerge, whatever their psychological motivations, that richer ‘initial’ tapestry always gives way to what is finally one game or one competition or what have you. But any sport can be absolutely thrilling without this ‘background’. Or more precisely it can be totally exciting simply on internal grounds (great team rivalries, player match-ups, the dynamic of a tournament etc). The added ‘background’ ultimately has to be distilled into the game. The latter has to stand in for everything. And this is where a certain hollowing-out always occurs in a sports film. This is why the best Rocky film for instance was the first one. The rest are about Rocky getting bigger (at least the first four) but this is always less interesting. In the first film even at the end he’s not very far from the world and the mood that define him. The film is throughout about these things. But then he cannot be for this reason an absolute champion in this film. With Lagaan you have a fairy tale of colonialism that uses a sport as a plot device. It helps that this is not a real game in the sense that both teams play it very differently. It allegorizes a certain imbalance in this sense or something that was reality even 40-50 years if not more recently than this. Of course it’s a very skillfully made film but because the game itself (at the end) is a cricket game ‘in burlesque’ it can contain everything the story has been about upto that point. At least it enables that possibility. But otherwise take any other sports film, especially one about national champions and it’s always a bit monotone by the end. Having said that I do believe Dangal avoids this problem, largely because the father-daughter angle and the expectations of the father are always central to the story. I’d say for the daughter this approval is ultimately even more important than winning the actual medal for itself. And we see this with a lot of sports stars. In tennis for example where an authoritarian father’s approval is quite often the real prize for the superstar child. So you win Wimbledon to make your father happy and then when he’s happy you’re happy too! Now admittedly you could have a film that explores more of the ‘cruelty’ of this setup. Or that which has to be robbed from a childhood (and beyond) to fashion a great sports figure. But that would be a very different sort of film and it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect a commercial film to carry such a burden.


  5. Watched Dangal. Clearly this is one of the most well made films in recent times. The movie stars very well and just grips you into this world of Phogat family. The story might sound predictable but the 1st half is laced with doses of natural humor that the proceedings moves very swiftly. It is helped by fabulous performances by the child actors. The 1st half is one of the best ever but it is the 2nd half which has reduced this movie from becoming a masterpiece or classic.

    The film address many social issues including female upbringing, early marriages, worthy of one’s own self, etc. All the issues are inserted in the movie without looking forced and perfectly synced in the movie.

    Performances are brilliant. Aamir is very good but this is going to be over praised performance. In the 2nd half there’s not much to do but his body language is perfect. Aamir as producer is far superior in this movie than Aamir the actor. Frankly this movie needed Aamir the producer and not Aamir the actor. The whole weight gain and reducing should have been for some other movie, it wasn’t needed for this movie at all.

    Both Geeta and Babita child actors are extraordinary though Geeta’s character given more footage and that little girl did awesome job in such a long character that you end up missing her in the 2nd half. That cousin guy Omkar has done great too.
    Older Geeta and Babita also very good and done well. Older Geetha should have done little more effort even for building the wrestler’s body and performance wise. She fell short a bit. Old Omkar is just about alright. The coach – marathi actor Girish Kulkarni has done very good but his role is not strong enough and of a caricature.

    I think everyone has been talking about the positives so much all around the media that I’ll just talk the minor negatives the film has. These are personal views only and I don’t think this can seriously be considered flaws of the movie. I

    1) Firstly the movie very predictable and then little overstretched involving of repetitions and scenes. I know all bollywood movies are predictable but the creativity of showing the predictable track is missing. That’s the difference between ‘great’ directors and good directors.
    2) You have this fabulous child actors of Geeta and Babita and as an audience you start loving them so much that they are missed very badly in the 2nd half. (This can’t be a critical flaw but audience view, imagine in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the lovable kid is not shown anymore in 2nd half) That missing can appear negative to the audience.
    3) Overall, I feel that this movie is flawed in an extent that it has to about 2 women wrestelers. Everywhere Phogat sisters are equally known and then you make a biopic about them and then end up making biopic about only Geeta and about 30 secs fight of Babita when infact both Geeta and Babita has won equal medals and honors for the country. No one is one above the other.
    4) Aamir Khan has very little to do in 2nd half of the movie(even overall) as well. Whatever they have tried to involve his character more has actually ruined the perfect flow of the movie. Coach saying.. attack.. Papa saying defend.. etc vice versa is too silly for this kind sport playing at International level.
    5)Movie should have reduced little bit of child portion around 10 mins (even though its the best part of the movie) and then inserted 10 mins of Babita’s journey till Nationals, that would have given an equal balance of biopic sisters.
    6) In 2nd half, as soon as they showed older Geeta, they showed a little negative against her father and that sort of ruins the attachment the audience has for Geeta and then it takes a while for her to gain that audience’s love That sort of ruins the flow of the movie.

    Frankly as I said once Lagaan 2, sorry but this is nowhere Lagaan 2. I actually prefer Chak De over Dangal as well. Dangal has lot of Chak De hangover especially the scenes towards the end with Hindi commentators and they way the matches are shown. Personally, I prefer even Taare Zameen Par over Dangal. Folks might say Dangal was always going to be dry film but TZP was also dry film with long monologues but it was never dull at any point as Dangal.

    Overall, a very good film(not classic as expected) but not repeat worthy watch. This will be under 300 crores and might cross Sultan if there is little luck but it won’t cross Bajrangi and PK.


    • Forgot to add 1 cringe worthy scene when a Muslim family’s little girl comes to watch Geeta’s final match and brings ‘prasad’. That was not at all needed km this movie!


  6. Also talk about Oscar for the film etc was laughable. I always maintained that Lagaan was our best chance and the academy should have honoured the film that year. A few days ago, I happened to see on the internet a trailer of Lagaan that had been cut for a foreign audience, and it was presented completely from the Britishers point of view. Now, that sort of period drama, based in the Raj time, holds enduring interest for the westerner. And it is beyond everything the story of the underdog.

    Dangal predictably has not been getting great reviews from foreign critics, and the reason is obvious. Hollywood has seen many sports movies and that alone cannot be a film’s USP. Beyond that, aspects like gender equality etc are not particularly appealing themes in the West. I mean, everyone knows it exists, but aspects like the father’s hankering for a male child, him living his dream through his daughters and putting them through grueling training – denying them the food they want etc – is likely to be seen as regressive and frowned upon by critics here. The West encourages minimal parental control, so Dangal is not a theme that will find a lot of appreciation.


    • Oscar thing is laughable and shows our inferiority complex than anything. We just don’t make movies with Oscar sensibilities. Having said that we don’t need to make one. The goal should be to make good Indian movies.


  7. “Aamir as producer is far superior in this movie than Aamir the actor. Frankly this movie needed Aamir the producer and not Aamir the actor.’

    Agree! Did you know Aamir wanted to play the fat guy’s role in Delhi Belly? I have always said that while Aamir’s prestige as a filmmaker will grow, his stature as a star-hero could be diminished by such roles. The solution is not a Dhoom or Ghajini of course, but I am sure he can do a Sarfarosh or like I said in the other thread, a Raees! He needs a great film but also needs to choose the right character.


    • “Did you know Aamir wanted to play the fat guy’s role in Delhi Belly?”

      Honestly, I don’t trust such reports especially for side characters. Btw, that fat guy was Kunal Roy Kapoor. Aamir even said he wanted to play that Natha’s role in Peeli Live done by Omkar Das. It was too hard to believe. I think he gets high to give out such news to hype the movie or characters. He said as these both movies were his productions and then he’s not acting in them.


  8. Nice writeup Satyam and Master. I couldn’t figure out if Sandyi has seen the movie based on her thoughts. If you have maybe you can put up a write up too.

    Master, now that you have seen it, maybe you can put the day wise projection too in that excel of yours 🙂


  9. “It has a nice message of female empowerment (incidentally all the fad these days, Pink was another recent example)”

    Satyam.. did I read that right? I didn’t see anything from you on Pink movie. I feel it was a movie targeting just minute female section of multiplex audience and it is so far away from reality. It was certainly a fad and not long lasting movie IMO.


    • I liked pink a lot. Didn’t write anything on it. But it was nonetheless part of this move regarding female empowerment. Abd it’s not thar I’m against this message. Just that it often seems basic for its multiplex audiences. Pink though was interesting that it went further within that demographic in certain ways. Now I didn’t go crazy over it or something but it was a very commendable effort at many levels.


  10. Rangan’s review, he calls it solid but not spectacular drama!!

    “Dangal”… Terrific performances elevate a drama that’s more solid than spectacular



  11. This review seem to be a list of excuses for liking the film..

    A comparison witkh Chak de wud be appropriate as a sports film.. Lagaan was hardly a sports film!

    Havent watched it, Two minds whether to go or not. As much as it is predictable, it is quite showy also, like prompting, look! this is a great film! The barrage of reviews full of superlative exclamations on Thursday itself further underlining that..

    As somebody said above, the father restricting his kids and torturing them to fulfil his dream is no women empowerment..Its not even healthy to do so! I find it rather problematic and repelling.


  12. The film’s critical reception is divided between reviewers who find it a tour de force and a milestone in Aamir’s filmography, and those who think it’s a great film, but not quite a classic.

    This much division in view is to be expected. You cannot escape it even for the best films.


    • Critically it’s the top rated in 2016. There is no shying away that Aamir has delivered a quality film again. I’m teased to be sceptical on box office as people here have highlighted it’s unlikely to be headline grosser. Let’s see, it’s pretty tough to bet against Aamir Khan films. The Monday hold will need to be quite remarkable compared to Friday number for any long term trend to sustain, as today won’t be a D3 like opening.


  13. Satyam’s review is very fine reading and completely on mark. It is a sports movie. A very good one!

    There is nothing to dislike except probably coach depiction. And I agree with Master that second half could have been culled by 10 minutes…. The conflict between dad and daughter added dimension but could have been deleted without impacting the movie.


    • Thanks munna for your thoughts. **Spoilers** As you seen the movie now, I’ll discuss one more scene. The fight between Geeta and Aamir is overdone IMO. That fight was too depressing to watch onscreen. They could have shot it in different way to prove a point to her dad by beating with new technique in a minute but they did this long laborious scene where Aamir was acting he was getting heart attack. There was not that much build up for the daughter to behave that that badly against her own father. The scene appeared forced to create rift and give some lifeline to the screenplay.


    • The question is, is there palpable excitement among the public after watching it? As i said, it isn’t enough for the film to be noble or socially important. That means nothing at all,unless it can genuinely entertain.

      I hope it doesn’t end up like Black, which was nauseatingly hyped by Bollywood, but in the end, the public was not all that excited.

      Aamir gave all of one interview before Lagaan, so much so, that the anchor Rakshanda Khan mispronounced the title calling it “Lagan” meaning passion. Aamir softly corrected her, but that gives you a sense of how low-key its publicity was.


  14. Sandyi, please read this. Now, here’s one detail review with some of my points I felt but couldn’t put across!
    Movie review: Dangal aims high but misses the gold medal
    Dangal wants to have the best of both drama and reality, but ends up being stranded in no man’s land

    There’s very little sermonising here, and as a result, the first half of Dangal with its sharp writing, impressive acting, smart editing and cinematography, makes for a satisfying watch.

    Its second half, though, is a different story altogether.

    But before understanding what doesn’t work in Dangal’s second half, it’s important to understand the DNA of an Aamir Khan production. Unlike his contemporaries Sharukh Khan and Salman Khan – where the former is charming, owning a scene just by a smile or a wink, and the latter by exuding a brute masculine energy, speaking the language of street toughies – Aamir is relatively more restrained, his choices more studied, more cerebral. He’s also got a knack for interesting, complex subjects – be it Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots, PK, or Dangal. These films aren’t fluffy; they see the world in a certain way, want to make sense of it, want to comment on it. Unlike Shahrukh and Salman, Aamir is also less willing to be a hero. An 8-year-old kid (Ishaan), not Aamir, was the centre of the story in Taare Zameen Par; he shared screen time with two other actors in 3 Idiots; Dangal’s story is hinged on Geeta’s quest for gold.

    But, then, Aamir can’t quit being himself; he can’t quit being a hero. The only difference is, unlike Shahrukh and Salman, he’s subtle about it – becoming a hero not through a protagonist, but through a peripheral character. By introducing a ‘villain’, another side character, whom Aamir defeats – by either direct or indirect means. It’s one character annihilating the other, which is often misconstrued as intelligent cinema. But the tropes remain the same. It’s the world of heroes and villains; it’s just that they’re packaged differently. Besides, these films often contradict themselves and are really devoid of complexities, reinforcing, not challenging, our views.

    Take Taare Zameen Par, for instance – it’s not enough that the film ends on a note with the shot of Ishaan painting blissfully, having finally found his solace. But, in a bid to reach a crowd-pleasing climax, we need to be shown that he, aided by Aamir’s character, has also won the competition; that he’s up against a callous father, the film’s villain, who’s reformed by Aamir. For a standalone film, these quibbles are okay, for worse choices have been made in Bollywood movies to make them dramatically appealing. And Taare Zameen Par by no means is shoddy; it was an important film for its time and, for the most part, enjoyable, but it does exhibit a pattern that, over the years, has become a hallmark of Khan’s films.

    Consider 3 Idiots’s climax. It’s not enough that Aamir’s character (Rancho), at the end of the film, is content with what he loves doing the most (teaching). We’ve to be shown that he – having become a scientist, garnering more than 1,000 patents – is more ‘successful’ than Chatur, a former nerdy classmate, a character the film often derides. 3 Idiots, a film centred on following one’s calling, ends on a note that ironically celebrates Indian middle class’s notions of success – that being successful means getting ahead of others, as opposed to being satisfied by one’s own choices. Ditto P.K., where a godman, much like Chatur’s character in 3 Idiots, is someone we can easily point fingers, and laugh at.

    Something similar happens in Dangal. At one point, Geeta, leaving her village, signs up for the National Sports Academy to prepare for international games. She finds a coach there who, unlike Mahavir, doesn’t understand her natural instincts. He keeps telling her to defend, while she’s more comfortable attacking. And much like other side characters in Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots or P.K, the film reduces him to a caricature, an obvious buffoon, who simply exists because Aamir can become a hero. But that’s not the only troubling bit about the film.

    A scene after the interval says a thing or two about what’s actually happening in Dangal. Here, Mahavir and Geeta are locked in a fight, where the latter, having learnt a new technique from her coach, is trying to prove how it’s better than the one Mahavir taught her. As they begin wrestling, Geeta starts dominating Mahavir and, in the end, defeats him – not because, as the scene shows, she’s more skillful, but because her father has become frail with age. The film then devotes a substantial amount of runtime in showing how Mahavir was right all along. Dangal’s fixated on convincing us that Mahavir can never be wrong, that the problem is always with Geeta. It’s a strange implication, underscored in scene after scene, that Geeta is nothing without her father, a man.

    It’s surprising, and rather unfortunate, that a film like Dangal, which sees itself as feminist, gives so little space to Geeta to be on her own – whether personally or professionally. There’s a wonderful brief segment in the film where Geeta is by herself and friends, discovering the joys of growing up. She goes to malls to buy clothes; she watches films; she sees a guy and smiles. But the film doesn’t embrace these as desires and instead dismisses them as distractions. If she’s to win that gold, Dangal implies, she has to be more masculine: cut her hair short, not care about her looks, go back to her father. It needn’t have been this way or that and I expected Dangal to be smarter than this, to understand the fluidity of gender.

    Sure, Dangal is ultimately a fictional film, and it can use any plot device to tell a credible and entertaining story, but what can also not be ignored is that it’s a certain kind of film – one that knows what it wants to be about, gender equality in this case. And so when it falters on that front, looks unsure of what it’s saying, you feel a bit underwhelmed.



    • Last para’s from the same review above

      But that isn’t the only problem with the film. Dangal, for the major part of its second half, is repetitive and bloated, showing, scene after scene, traits of characters that were established long back, offering little to surprise us and itself. It also uses some of the most tired clichés of sports films, needlessly trying to inject drama into a story that should have unfolded more naturally, more life-like. In fact, that is Dangal’s major undoing – that it’s not quite sure of its tone and the kind of film it wants to be. Dangal’s last 30 minutes are drunk on high drama, contradicting the film’s earlier tone and purpose.

      Lagaan and Chak De! India, two simple melodramatic genre pieces, worked because they were internally and overall consistent. They didn’t punch above their weights, stuck to their stories and characters, giving us much to savour. Dangal, on the other hand, desperately wants to be meaningful; it wants to be both melodramatic and life-like; it wants to talk about both micro and macro – the dreams of ordinary citizens, the desire of a nation. And this has become a pattern of sorts, especially with Khan’s films, of late, where meaningful topical subjects are stripped off their complexities, where there’s much fixation on delivering a message as opposed to telling a story, where the theatrics of cinema get entangled with the bareness of life. Often, these films are acclaimed because they aren’t obviously formulaic, aren’t obviously shoddy – that they try to do something ‘different’. The failures of these films are all the more frustrating because, at some level, they show genuine promise. Dangal does, too – even its uneven second half has a few scenes that are affecting and keep you hooked, that make you hope that this film will rise above its new-found mediocrity. But it doesn’t. Dangal wants to have the best of both the worlds but ends up being stranded in no man’s land.


  15. Might watch it again next week.


  16. Nice review Satyam, as for the Muslim character IMO the only thing jarring was the skull cap. Most Muslims that I know of don’t wear it 24 X7


  17. My thoughts:

    “Dangal is better than Lagaan” was a headline that caught my eye on the day of the film’s release. As I was going to see it that evening I had decided not to read any reviews beforehand but social media seemed to be full of similar superlative descriptions of the movie. These did not necessarily bode well; we live in an age where hyperbolic reactions to mediocrity are commonplace. But I felt that if Dangal had lived up to it’s mammoth expectations then we were in for a fine cinematic conclusion to the year.

    Aamir Khan used to be a normal actor in the nineties, albeit with the label of being a ‘perfectionist’. In 2001 he produced Lagaan, a rare modern-day classic and henceforth everything changed for him and for us. His name has since been largely associated with quality movies offered to the viewer every couple of years. My own favourite is Taare Zameen Par, the only film he also directed, the climax of which is playing on television as I write this, repeatedly distracting my attention (and unfailingly bringing tears to the eyes as Ishaan runs into his beloved teacher’s arms in the final scene). He also chose to make Satyamev Jayate, cementing his reputation as a man with integrity and a social concience.

    My own opinion of him dipped a little after his undoubtedly disingenuous comments about Dhoom 3 prior to its release; marketing is part of the game but when one is Aamir Khan the rules are a little different.

    Dangal is a very well-made movie; one cannot fault the performances (the four girls, Sakshi and indeed Aamir are all excellant), Pritam’s music fits perfectly (magnificent lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya), the technical aspects of the film are all spot-on, the wrestling is choreographed stunningly and crucially the film’s heart is in the right place (paying a well-deserved tribute to two Indian sportswomen and the father who trained them in circumstances not entirely unlike those of Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena).

    But sadly, Dangal is not an interesting movie. The entire first half is very watchable but frustratingly predictable. During the interval I was hopeful that the film would now come alive and take us to the level of cinematic brilliance Aamir’s name promises. Unfortunately, other than a captivating scene where the daughter/student takes on the father/teacher we are left waiting for something, anything, to lift this good film into something spectacular.

    2016 is a strange year. In politics we had victories for Brexit and Trump. In sport Leicester Football Club won the Premiership and Andy Murray became the world number one. And now in cinema Karan Johar has unimaginably made my favourite film of the year (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) and I will suggest that unthinkably, Salman Khan’s wrestling movie, Sultan, is a more interesting one than Aamir Khan’s Dangal. Because whilst Sultan may not be great cinema, it at least makes one think and is relatively entertaining in the process. Dangal on the other hand skirts over the most interesting aspects of the film, the interpersonal relationships that could have made this truly brilliant, and instead gives us a biopic that doesn’t actually say very much.

    Dangal is a good movie and is worth both the ticket price and three hours of our time. But it is not a special movie; it is neither particularly memorable nor one that I will be in a hurry to revisit. But as of now, it appears I am in the minority; the masses and the classes still belong to Aamir Khan.


  18. Salim saying it is not interesting is definitely a red flag. There’s only so much liberty you can take with biopics, as a result they turn out bland and predictable. They also end up glorifying their subjects too much. The perfect case study is Mangal Pandey, where the makers kept stressing that they had very little information about the central character. But at the same time, they were hyping it up as a real story and hence could not take much cinematic liberty. The result: a very boring, no-nothing film.

    I feel filmmakers can borrow an idea from a person’s life but they should always etch out a fresh story for the script to be exciting. My husband is always interested when he sees the line ‘inspired from true life” at the beginning of any beginning. But that very line makes me uncomfortable, because I suddenly envision the script being constricted and unimaginative.

    Somerset Maugham said it best that facts and real life are an artist’s raw material; they are not art on their own! That something has occurred in real life does not make it a fitting subject for fiction. Life is full of improbabilities which fiction does not admit of.

    Even when a filmmaker is inspired by real-life, they must only take only what is useful to them in telling the story and conveying the inevitable truth in it. Art to qualify as one must always be able to rise above its bare facts and say something universal about human nature and life.

    By God, fate, chance, whichever you like to call, the mystery that governs men’s lives, is a poor story-teller, and it is the business , and the right, of the novelist to correct the improbabilities of brute fact.


  19. Satyam – Any comments on CDI and Dangal comparison 🙂 ?


    • Ha.. you’re going to create trouble! But I didn’t much care for it at the time. It was certainly well-made for what it was but it was grossly overrated in the media and elsewhere. I’m relying on memory though since I’ve only seen the film once. But again I’m not generally a sports film person. And the reason I liked Dangal a lot was that even though this too is a sports film the core here is really the relationship between the father and the daughters. Those moments really worked for me. Now the film is very effective even otherwise but I would have liked it a lot less had it been a regular sports film which is to say only about that one thing and little else. I in fact thought of revisiting CDI after seeing Dangal.

      I should add here that my comments are being misread by some as problems in the film’s narrative. But I’ve specifically said I had no issues on this score. I had certain objections to the reception of the film in the media. And I’ve had the very same objections with some others films I’ve liked. In fact on pure narrative grounds I had more of an issue with PK’s second half or more precisely the climax which was a bit too tame. I probably liked Dangal more than PK or even 3I. The latter was easily the most entertaining of the 3, PK was the most promising though it didn’t necessarily live up to those expectations in the second half, but ultimately I prefer dramas to comedies and hence I’d take Dangal over those two. The one other point I’d make here is that despite the national anthem in the end (which was handled in much more restrained fashion than is usually the case) and despite the fact that there is something obviously nationalistic about sports at an international level I still found this film to be far less jingoistic than it might have been. Or put differently the relationships are at the center and at least to my mind nothing else really trumped this aspect of the story.

      In box office terms I’ll say once more I’d be surprised if it didn’t reach the highest benchmarks.

      Finally I’m quite likely to see it another time.


      • “but ultimately I prefer dramas to comedies and hence I’d take Dangal over those two. ”

        In my opinion also, Dangal is a better made movie than PK or 3 Idiots.

        I kind of agreed to some degree with Master’s view on Father daughter wrestling match. Then I read Rangan’s review and he gave a different perspective.

        ps – I have to check CDI but I don’t think it gave nuances of hockey. Here you understand wresting and you probably will be able to see a wrestling match and understand how points being given.


        • yes glad you made that point. I knew nothing about the sport but through the film I gained a very fair understanding of how it was played and as you’ve already mentioned the way the points are awarded.

          The one thing I didn’t like towards the end was [SPOILER] the way Aamir was locked up. This was unnecessary. They were of course trying to make a certain point here but they could have done it better some other way. On a related note I think Master perhaps talked about this but I actually liked the father daughter match in the earlier part. It has a certain shock value given all the cultural norms in these matters.


      • Haha, I remember distinctly Satyam’s very erudite review of CDI. At that point, many, including me, were too bowled over by the film to see reason. I have seen it a few times since then. The matches certainly hold up very well, and it is overall a very well-made film. SRK brings a lot of his personal charm and charisma to this part that really elevates the experience.

        However, some questions that didn’t occur to me on first viewing came up subsequently, and i saw the film as being problematic in the political sense. These are the same issues that I believe Satyam had brought up – namely, a Muslim having to prove his nationalism in this manner before he can be acquitted by his fellow countrymen. Politically, not the greatest message to peddle.

        The bigger, more frightening point is SRK’s character’s idea of nationhood and patriotism where he sees only one India and the obliteration of states in this context. At that time in 2007, the country was under no threat from any nationalist party at the centre that was browbeating state governments, or thrusting its own ideology on others. Hence, the message by SRK did not offend too much. Today, that idea of completely subsuming ones regional identity and submitting to someone’s notion of nationhood, does not feel correct . It seemed to me a contrivance to make Kabir Khan appear patriotic, but its message is not the most harmless one.

        The other point I noticed was Kabir Khan saying during the interview that he was waiting for years to train this women’s hockey team. Meaning he was thinking about it all those years?I think it was seven years. Why didn’t he try earlier? And how could he be sure the team was even going to last and compete in matches, given its miserable state. The team could well have been dropped altogether given its non-performance. What he seemed to be so passionately aiming for was clearly just hanging by a thread. I question not his wisdom, but his sanity. One understands why the script needed to show his desperation, but it was less plausible IMO.

        Of course, as a viewer one can easily take a leap of faith here, and pretend he didn’t even say that. It’s not going to harm the narrative of the film or your enjoyment of it too much, so it’s still a fine film for me overall.


  20. It’s funny how nobody on SS has heaped unqualified, glowing praise on Dangal. On the other hand, reviewers in the mainstream press and other media outlets have been gushing about the Dangal. Even serious critics who have thoroughly analysed the film and Aamir’s career, and found Dangal wanting in a few areas, have readily acknowledged that it is a very fine film. Also, when some criticism is put forth, you can sense that is basically an underlying affection for the film.


  21. I thought we’ve come a long way from Om Shanti Om times when the media was certainly wined and dined and of course paid 😉


  22. Munna/Satyam: About not knowing anything about Dangal and then understanding the game through the movie. I want to mention some points. Firstly Lagaan wasn’t named Cricket and neither Chak De was titled Hockey. If you name the movie Dangal and not Geeta, you are yourself taking up the responsibility of explaining the game. To be fair, Dangal is very simple game with limited point scoring options. When Geeta trained street Dangal..I believe Aamir never mentioned that you need to put the body flat to the ground. It was never said but when they playing mat Dangal..he mentioned the point options clearly as 1,2,3 and 5. Those was simple rules compared to Cricket or Hockey or even Tennis.

    I think CDI did very well with Hockey game and taught us that how senior players fight to get centre forward game and those are most important as goal scoring positions. Also, the rivalry forwards have in scoring goals. Defense needs senior player and goal keeper is very important besides all the penalties etc.

    I prefer Chak De easily over Dangal and Lagaan over Chak De.


    • Well Chak De is heavily inspired from Miracle.

      It is well made but I think it is no more than We are the Marshals or Remember the Titans or The Replacements .

      Recently I watched Jesse Owens biopic Race. It tries to tackle race and Nazi issue.It is decent but it fails to leave an imprint.

      Having said that we have tendency to overrate Bollywood movies at soon as we see some semblance of decentness .


      • “Well Chak De is heavily inspired from Miracle.
        It is well made but I think it is no more than We are the Marshals or Remember the Titans or The Replacements.”

        Well, that is very bad comparison and statement. You talk about average Hollywood films and then compare with Hindi films. Inspirations does not reduce great films to nothing. I have seen Miracle after CDI that time. Inspiration is a crappy word in this case. Firstly Miracle isn’t that great of a film for someone to watch it and then plan Hindi film based on it to earn some money. Secondly even after watching Miracle, I prefer CDI over it by far and large.

        Chak De was based on Indian Female Hockey win at 2002 Commonwealth games. The movie was announced officially in Sep 2005 but it was already in talks for past 1 year when it went from SRK to Salman and again came back to him. Miracle released in 2004. Fairly I am gonna say that Jaideep Sahni said he watched lot of American sports film to get the structure correct as we Indians don’t have inherent talent for such scripts. There might have been some scenes from many films but the film is not about inspirations but the sum of all things. The movie didn’t become great coz of the concept but all the characters of the girls and how well it connected with the audience and brings out the Indian humor and all that.

        To simply put, I can tell you all the ‘inspirations’ of all the great films in Hindi from Sholay, Deewar, Lagaan to anything. Some average movies can inspire a film maker to make a great film.


  23. For me, Lagaan towers above all films. The only film that comes a bit close critically would be Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi.
    CDI is a great film too, but more in the league of TZP, RDB.

    I’m seeing Dangal tonight. Let’s see where it stands.


  24. The story has similarities with William sisters



  25. Saw the film . It’s good but there’s absolutely nothing in the film which isn’t there in sultan. The thing which makes sultan even more special is that it took much lesser time to make than dangal and still matched it inch by inch and even bettered it at several instances.

    Also the storyline in Dangal is flat, the film could have been ended at interval and it would have been as impactful as it is now. Which makes it worse than even Dhoni the untold story, which despite having a more known story somehow managed to create more impact than dangal.

    The performances are top notch, with both the Geetas being top 2 performers and aamir being the 3rd. The Babita role could have been developed further than the half baked we see here.

    All in all, I would have rated it much higher if there was no sultan released this year.

    Also if sultan released after dangal, we wud be talking of how it’s copied and blah blah


  26. guys if there are too many useless comments I will delete them..


  27. IMHO, Sultan does cant even hold a candle to Dangal. For a newbie to wrestling, Sultan does not explain anything or lay any foundation for anyone to get inspiration to consider joining the sport. It was all about Salman as Sultan. Period. Remove Salman, and Sultan would not even cross the weekend.
    Dangal innovatively introduces the sport of wrestling to a wide audience, and showcases the development of a wrestler from childhood to the pinnacle. All while keeping essential elements of movie making intact, in an entertaining format. The beauty of Dangal is that Aamir relegated himself to the background.
    I actually found the second half much more engrossing. The first half was predictable due to the pre released trailor and the songs. Its the second which is gripping. The tension at the end of the Father-Daughter bout left everyone speechless in the hall I saw it in. The time invested into the intro and lessons of wrestling in the first half, reaps dividend in the second. Everyone was intently watching Geeta’s moves and counter moves in every bout and match. Kids were actually shouting out points on every move in my audience!! I mean this was a diff level of being engrossed into the movie. All this was interspersed with humorous situations, tension, etc.
    Just my 2 cents.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Seeing it next week.
    Any criticism of Dangal is valid except from those who think CDI was a masterpiece.
    Sultan and Lagaan were twenty times the movie that CDI was. SRK was at his best though.


    • I revisited CDI last night. I didn’t like Sultan at all so won’t compare it to that film but there’s simply no comparison between it [CDI] and Dangal irrespective of what one things of the latter. I’d agree on SRK. One of his best parts, everything works, including the star signature. Really liked him here. But otherwise it’s a rather slight film grossly overrated at the time. After Dangal though this gap seems even more obvious. There’s nothing wrong with CDI, it’s certainly entertaining throughout but it’s mostly fluff. Except for the Muslim angle tacked on to it which I’ve always found deeply problematic. The Muslim who can only redeem himself by winning again. In any case, and leaving this aside, it’s a totally light-weight film compared to Dangal. And again I don’t have a problem with folks not liking Dangal but preferring CDI is hard to believe (other than for the purest SRK fans!). Finally on Sultan once more it had some elements that were fine in that masala sense but it was overall simply too excessive a film, at least for me. Actually Salman could have crossed PK with this one but as always the script wasn’t ultimately good enough.

      Lagaan needn’t be mentioned in this vein at all!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Sultan and Lagaan in the same breath?


    • Sultan IMO was an excellent commercial film.
      Not an iconic one like Lagaan but an extremely entertaining film riding on the charisma of Salman.


  30. Spoilers

    I’m absorbing this piece now. And bullet 5) is very true. TBH all of Aamir’s “social” films do not have anything new to offer except portions in TZP for me. The articulation of teaching with visuals is not “new” at all – I see it live everyday but there was a wide array of creative methods used that parents can actually use.

    On point 6) I’d add Bollywood like other industries is very poor in depicting other races. I think it was Fashion where it was taboo to sleep with a black person, homosexuality is regularly abused in poor ways the Australian depiction horrifically displayed. The Olympic sports barring the cockiness of some male 100m sprinters is not a vindictive, nasty competition. Generally, it is very respectful and pre-match gamesmanship does not enter like in Dangal – it stood out as un-natural in the film.

    The overestimation in media is right but this is probably because the industry is not churning out quality at regular intervals, many big films disappoint. And when one very good one comes it’s very much rejoiced. Some said this is the best film since Lagaan. IMHO opinion different fans of Aamir could offer reasons why DCH or MP or RDB or TZP or 3 Idiots or Talaash or P.K are better. It’s not convincing enough to anoint Dangal so highly. The 1) and 2) and everything else was poor media stuff.

    Hirani himself has the two Munnabhai’s, some will point to CDI or Swades or BB or Guru or Khakee or X/Y/Z. Simply there are potentially better films out there – Dangal is closer to those then it is to the universe Lagaan created! And of course other industry’s by the people whom you expect to know as they copy left, right and centre are regularly ignored.

    The outright bashfullness of the industry declaring it to be the best thing since sliced bread is very much a Taran reaction.

    I actually liked the climax as there was some irony to it. It made sense with the flashback sequence of Geeta in the river and Mahavir saying one day you will be on your own & will need to do it. The nature of the absence of course was filmi but at some point absence was needed!


    • all very fair points here.. hard to disagree with anything… Talaash though is a good counter-example for me. Because here the film does offer a very dark mirror to contemporary India. That which is repressed in most other films. When we hear about those horrifying cases like the Delhi gangrape a few years (actually there are many like it all over India, even in terms of gruesomeness this isn’t really unique.. but somehow this became a huge moment.. I’m glad it did but I wasn’t as happy with the pretense of treating it as something rare) those events are much closer to the world of Talaash than anything depicted in most other mainstream movies. Of course I don’t expect commercial films to do social commentary. But some films do have more of a ‘soul’ than others in this sense. Put another way Talaash comes closest to the concerns Aamir voiced on his TV show. But this darker view of India most people just don’t like. At least not the key multiplex audiences. Aamir has certainly tried to make films more often than not that say something. Which is why I don’t have a problem with most of them as films even if I might have specific objections too some of them (RDB for example). As you said given what everyone else is doing it’s not surprising that some of the better stuff gets overrated. My only point is that stuff like Talaash never gets overrated. On Dangal though I will say having seen it twice (I probably won’t but I could see it a third time) that it is a very genuine film. One can argue with it in all sorts of ways but there is something genuine to this film even if for me Talaash has a more radical message. Dangal is certainly not a ‘manufactured’ film in any sense.

      On another note I probably appreciated Aamir’s performance a bit more the second time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tanul Thakur actually gave similar insight in his dangal review:


        “But before understanding what doesn’t work in Dangal’s second half, it’s important to understand the DNA of an …” Read next 4-5 paras.

        Though I don’t agree with his two main objections about the movie:

        1. the first problem is his mis reading. The fight is not between father and being herself. The fight was between two coaching styles; both taught by males. She taught what is being taught is good NSA and dad thought she needs to improve in things she has been taught.

        2. If showing matches is bloated then Sultan, CDI or Lagan all are bloated.


        • Ironically he does in this review exactly what he’s accusing Dangal of. He does make some thoughtful, fair points but then he ‘bloats’ his own review and really goes way overboard with the rest of his characterizations! To take an example Mahavir is not always shown being right for some crude reason but that the ‘native’ style is being privileged here versus the more ‘international’ or ‘global’ one of the coach. The point about Aamir making it about himself in all those films is also a bit strange. Obviously Aamir is the star of these films. It’s only natural that he’d carry the symbolic currency of these worlds. What does Thakur expect? That Aamir stop behaving like a major star in his films? Any commercial film of any sort if it casts a major star cannot simply make a character actor out of that star (films that do this are usually rejected by the audience). Even if it’s a different film at any level it has to account for the star signature. Yes it’s true that sometimes even meaningful scripts have to be twisted to make room for the star but this is par for the course. Finally it’s odd to talk about CDI and Lagaan in the same breath. His point on CDI is correct. it’s a much more modest film. But Lagaan is way more than this. Hardly just a sports film. Again Thakur does come up with a valuable critique at points but he really goes, in Dangal terms, beyond the red zone!


    • on that note my favorite Aamir films in no particular order (i.e. in this Lagaan phase of his career):

      5)Mangal Pandey

      And I can’t put Ghajini with those other films but I think it easily beats all the other masala out there from Salman or anyone else. Khakee is the only one I like more than this.

      Of his Hirani films I’d take PK over 3I though the latter is better made for what it is.

      Anyway moving beyond this one of the other things to highlight here is that besides doing all this quality stuff Aamir also has a very high percentage of iconic films in this same phase. That itself is remarkable. Not every big hit is necessarily iconic. And Aamir has done even this at every end of the production spectrum.


      • and he is balancing it very well with Ghajinis and D3s and now Thugs because as he said the main purpose of cinema is to entertain ppl – and even in the trailer of Secret Superstar – he makes it count….i want him to do Sarfarosh 2 but give the direction to Murugadoss who can direct that action drama very well in this age


      • tonymontana Says:

        My top two would be the same as yours. I liked Talaash too but would also include RDB in his top 5 films ever


  31. I watched Dangal Dobara yesterday, and actually liked it better on the second viewing.
    I noticed and appreciated Sakhshi Tanwar’s and the older Babita’s performance more this time around.
    The telephone scene did not make me as emotional as it did on the first viewing .
    When Aamir unbuttons his shirt to fight the state champion in the opening scene, for a very brief moment he looked like Salman from Sultan.
    The sets ( mainly the house and office of Aamir) looked very fake .
    Aamir off course is the brilliant .
    The success of Dangal, Sarfarosh, Lagan shows that he is not afraid to back a new director if he finds the script interesting.
    My favorite Aamir’s movies-


    • oops, forgot Rangeela …thanks Sandy for reminding me..Rangeela would be #3
      then #9 would be Gulaam, and # 10 would be Raja Hindustani
      Andaaz apna apna I find really overrated ….


  32. My fav Aamir films:

    1) Lagaan
    2) Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
    3) Dangal
    4) Earth
    5) Dil
    6) 3 Idiots
    7) PK
    10) Rangeela


    • I’m going mess everyone’s list up by picking my favourite film. Note it’s a personal choice. Not at all a piece of work like Lagaan. But alongside films like Tezaab, Ram Lakhan and MPK the sole reason I started watching Hindi films…..QSQT. I am reminded of a piece by Abzee on NG where he went through year by year & plucked out a film of Aamir Khan be it a critic friendly film or performance or box office success. It’s staggering the body of work a one film a year man can accumulate.


    • earlier I had a list of favorite Aamir movies since Lagaan. For an overall list I’d have in no particular order:


      So I guess I’d add only one from the pre-Lagaan period! On QSQT though it is still fresh in a way no other Bollywood love story since is. Now if I were making a list of Aamir films I consider worthwhile there would be besides the above:

      Raakh, Sarfarosh, Earth, JJWS, Rangeela, Ghajini, 3I, PK, DCH, RDB.

      So beginning with Lagaan everything he’s done would be on a worthwhile list for me with the exception of D3. That’s 16 films.

      In the final category there are very solid commercial films like Ghulam and Fanaa. Some other commercial films that he’s done that were successful or very successful would be below these two for me (HHRPK, Dil, D3 but not Ishq! But even Dil is not a film I can easily watch anymore). Now I might have liked some of these films more when those released but here it’s also a question of what seems better from a distance.

      If I were to do the same for Salman and really making it just one category for him (let’s be kind!) I’d have just Bajrangi and HDDCS, Love on such a list. Everything else is really disposable. Even the earlier Barjatya hits are enjoyable perhaps but really very poor as films in all sorts of ways. His other hits are more or less junk entertainment with the exception of Dabanng which still has half a script (though aesthetically way better than his other films), often of the lowest order. If one wants to count a less than central role Khamoshi as well. And for anyone who thinks I’m being harsh well I didn’t count even Dil for Aamir let alone Ishq!


      • 1998 – QSQT (debut) – Hit film and best film at FF
        1989 – Raakh – critically underated, box office failure
        1990 – Dil – biggest grosser of year
        1991 – Dil Hai Kai Manta Nahi – success
        1992 – Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander – success and best film at FF
        1993 – Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke – success and best film at FF
        1994 – Andaz Apna Apna – flop but cult film
        1995 – Rangeela & Akele Hum Akele Tum – Hit & Flop
        1996 – Raja Hindustani – a raging ATBB and best film at FF
        1997 – Ishq – hit film but shit film too
        1998 – Ghulam – success
        1999 – Sarforosh & Earth & Mann former both critic proof, former success, latter flop by any standard
        2000 – Mela – mega disaster
        2001 – Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai – critical acclaim galore, hit and mild success (but DCH arguably being influential then any film for the multiplex template), Oscar nomination and best film at FF
        Career break 2002-04
        2005 – Mangal Pandey – Record breaking week 1
        2006 – RDB & Fanaa – former critically acclaimed/BAFTA nomination, both super hits both breaking week 1 records depending on which box office site you visit and best film at FF
        2007 – TZP – critically acclaimed blockbuster (actor, director, producer) and best film at FF/ NA, best director
        2008 – Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na – super hit film, debuting Imran Khan
        2008 – Ghajini – Record breaking week 1 and highest grossing film ever non inflation adjusted, ATBB
        2009 – 3 Idiots – Record breaking week 1 and highest grossing film ever non inflation adjusted / critical acclaim and best film at FF, ATBB
        2010 – Peepli Alive – successful production
        2011 – Dhobi Ghat – not a flop production
        2011 – Delhi Belly – Hit production
        2012 – Talaash – acclaimed performance, hardly the worst box office performance
        2013 – Dhoom 3 – Record breaking week 1 and highest grossing film ever non inflation adjusted, ATBB
        2014 – P.K. – Record breaking week 1 and highest grossing film ever non inflation adjusted / critical acclaim, ATBB
        2016 – Dangal – Critical acclaim…let’s see where it finishes.
        2017 – Secret Superstar – ?????
        2018 – Thugs of Hindostan – ?????

        I count roughly 27 films spanning 28 years where he has kept himself relevant or in the game and starred in a disaster or cult film or success or hit or ATBB
        5 ATBB (tags given by trade)
        8 productions and an average+ success typically more than a hit with Dhobi Ghat (maybe?) being exception
        8 films winning best film at FF (its a crap award but for those counting), 2 he produced
        1 FF for best director
        Oscar / Bafta nomination
        Satamev Jayate
        No statue at Madame Tussauds at his refusal
        No show at the showbiz awards since mid 90’s
        Media blockade through parts of 90’s / 00’s – media have been very pleasant to SRK / Salman in general
        A divorce
        Gifting Imran Khan his only 2 genuine hits
        Gifting Salman Khan Bhajrangi Bhaijaan on a platter by refusing film and recommending Salman

        Playing by his own rules since 1995.

        LIVEWIRE – bomb away!

        Liked by 1 person

        • good summation.


        • wow, great compilation here…….
          keenly looking forward to the Thug ..
          I don’t think AHAT and Mann were flop flop though …they did average business.
          Mela was a disaster..


          • I found Mann poor more due to casting Manisha Koirala. The album was fine, I’m guessing film was safe.
            AHAT is a gem IMO. Here the casting was fine. The father-son sequences are lovely. I did not follow box office back then, but quite shocked it was not a hit film, I’m guessing sandwiched betweem HAHK and DDLJ, following Rangeela and the history of QSQT/JJWS…AHAT was a let down.

            Sandy has failed to present her true favourite Aamir Khan film…Afsana Pyar Ka!


          • AHAT is a real fine film , the sequence where Shafi Inamdar playing nadeem Khan insults Aamir was really well done.
            I guess people could not accept the hero to be such a loser at the time.


          • Mansoor Khan should still be directing. He made very nice family films. QSQT, JJWS, AHAT, Josh. JJWS had so many facets to it, so many small sub-plots. The race competition, sibling rivalry, father son issues, college rivalry, romance all interwoven into a gem of a film.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hadn’t thought about Josh in a long time. But yeah fun film.


          • I’m not a fan of AHAT though it’s certainly a decent enough film (love the Nadeem-Shravan spoof!). But Mansoor Khan was a talented guy who somehow lost interest in filmmaking. Still it’s more respectable to do that than to continue and make stuff like Befikre!


          • Aditya is covering all bases. Tiger Zinda Hai (Salman), Thugs (Big B & Aamir), next directorial (SRK). TZH has to be breaking records next year, Xmas falls perfectly for it. Thugs will be like you say Dhoom or bust – I am unsure the director is good, portions of D3 2nd half were decent, the struggle between two brothers were fine & Abhishek’s interception too. But that was a drab film overall. And a meddling Aditya is a worry. SRK/Aditya film sounds more like Aditya trying to save his ass, then anything meaningful for either party.


          • With Aamir on board Thugs won’t be bust. But yeah the D3 fate is quite likely. Normally I wouldn’t care as much but when you have a good period subject and you have those two together for the first time you should try hard to make it special.

            I thought ETT was flat so can’t say I’m waiting for the sequel. Tubelight might be the best one Salman has on hand. Assuming it’s anything like Bajrangi.


          • Until the first shoot I am assuming Thugs won’t happen. I remember a Big B, Aamir, Madhuri film way back in the works. I could not think of a bigger cast coup at the time. Got shelved.


          • Mann was decent in box office terms. Better in a place like UP. Quite enjoyed it at the time.


          • Dhoom 3 I still haven’t seen. Never liked the promo and didn’t like the 15 minutes of the film I saw on TV.

            I’m excited about Amitabh and Aamir coming together in a film but why Vijay Acharya as director? Also Yash Raj hardly signifies quality, when all the better films are coming from outside of it. In my view, even Karan Johar has surged ahead, and has evolved as a filmmaker. Look at the company he used to keep and now see his list of best friends – Anurag Kashyap, Aamir, Ranbir, Ayan.
            Karan has shown that he’s not really the elitist filmmaker everyone thought he was initially. In my view at least, he is very grounded and always willing to learn.

            Coming to Thugs…, I don’t know what to think. I’m not thrilled at all about the director or the production house, though the theme and casting are exciting. Come to think of it, Aamir has not benefited from his association with Aditya Chopra. Fanaa was fine, but nothing to rave about and it’s not a film that is spoken of very highly. Dhoom 3 was a big hit, bit I don’t know anyone who liked it a whole lot. These films befit a Salman, not Aamir. It was also disingenuous of Aamir to promote Dhoom 3 as if some kind of a classic was in the making.

            Overall, going by history, I am just not sure how this will turn out.


        • Jay,

          Did you intentionally not list Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na? I see that you mentioned Imran and his 2 hits.

          Another good list could be a summary of the iconic and impactful films that either were Trail Blazers or changed the way industry worked since. Aamir will have a good list starting with QSQT. Shahrukh will have a couple to his credit. This is where Salman is forgettable despite long career. I don’t think history will be kind to Salman, all things considered.


  33. Aamir on Thugs Of Hindostan and Bachchan Aamir on Thugs Of Hindostan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXT1LHqPpXc&feature=youtu.be


  34. Oh boy! Look at this thread and where it has led too….one can easily get giddy reading the comments on this thread praising Lord aamir ….as someone pointed out here – the best thing since sliced bread

    @ TOH – won’t be bust…..one just needs to revisit Dhaakad Hai video starring aamir in itemized version and watch limits to his ‘linear functions’ very graphically illustrated. Fans don’t be so naïve and feign ignorance to Aamir zoning and by now well established do’s and don’t for him. Do I need to post all those ‘I hate you like I love’ item nos here to prove a point….At least aamir seems more sensible than his fans and aware on ‘limits to his liabilities’ ….so zones himself accordingly one step at a time…..

    And all those lists of movie from top to bottom – not one soul – mind you not one soul talked about how Aamir specialized in ripping apart all those Hollywood movies though the 90s one after the other, scene by scene, ditto dialogue…… he has left a permanent scar and ruined cinematic classic of numerous films like – It happened One Night, Kramer vs Kramer, Breaking Away…..this Mansoor Khan and Aamir were only collaborating to tear out movies off video parlor shelves of Hollywood section !!

    Even that Rangeela i heard is copy of – win a date with tad hamilton

    As I said open a champagne and relish the moment of Dangal….
    don’t delve into past or look too far ahead!!


  35. This ‘informal’ review on Dangal is spot on. It is a perfectly executed movie, the performances are great, the songs are flawlessly meshed into the movie but the story and screenplay are ordinary at best IMO.

    Yes, it plays out as a typical sports movie and I agree with Satyam here that this isn’t no damn women ’emancipation’ film. If one treats it as a womans issue film then it actually is a regressive film in terms of that issue. If you treat it as a typical commercial movie then it gets the job done. The strongest point of the film was how well the wrestling scenes were executed. You can always trust an Aamir Khan film to be sincere and authentic when it comes to these kinds of things. PK and Lagaan are the ONLY films that I was motivated enough to watch in the theaters twice, and looks like it will remain that way for me. Dangal is a good film…but IMO fell far short of being a classic.


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