An Jo on Dangal


Again, Aamir gifts India with a movie in Christmas and proves why he continues to be the Santa donating gifts in the form of a few hours of magic, yanking your earthly problems out of your mind-space for 150 minutes and taking you on an adrenalin ride and making you believe that life, as bleak as it might be, when looked at purely as ups and downs of moments and emotions attached to them, can be livable and be looked back at with sighs and smiles, albeit in different doses. If life were a vehicle, Aamir the driver arranges a journey in which he packs characters that are real, earthy, smelly, and sweaty and lets them be; with him interjecting, commanding, demanding, talking, cajoling – all the while, only as an interlocutor: Throughout, the film is about those moments and characters that are part of Aamir’s Mahaveer Singh Phogat’s life, and they remain so. Aamir remains the root of the movie, but only as the root, always buried beneath but having the huge heart to dirty oneself in mud but let the viewers/audiences/people enjoy the tree, the rings, the leaves, the twigs, the branches, and of course, the shade.

DANGAL is a massive achievement since it consensually consummates a rare marriage between serious issues of gender-inequality and cinematic treatment. The bridge between entertainment and issue-based stories is a serious one to effectively construct but here, it’s one great construction. DANGAL took me back to my days with my grand-father, who was an accomplished multi-language writer and who would tell me stories every night after dinner, in our family verandah, mainly regarding Hindu mythologies [he was a master in Sanskrit] and stories regarding kings, queens, ascetics, with rakshasas in tow of course. The main thing I looked forward to, and the one I never failed in experiencing, was entertainment and eliciting highs and lows of emotions whenever he narrated those stories. Any complexity in the story; be they of emotions or of constructs, would never be lost to me: And that was his victory in story-telling; not my intelligence in understanding it. That’s what director Nitish Tiwari and his team of writers accomplish here. The visuals always embellish the writing here and not otherwise.

Amitabh, of course, IS the lord of ‘masala’ introductions in Hindi cinema [sorry, couldn’t resist bringing him in], but Aamir’s middle-aged introduction with a chiseled body watching a game of wrestling and then defeating a state champion—as the 1988 Seoul Olympics is broadcast in the back-ground—and then wearing his shirt on while the title-credits roll is a pure masala moment, accomplished with a rousing sound-track that is pure ecstasy-rush. [The other one I cannot forget, of course, is the one in HAIDER for Irrfan right before the inter-mission.] The credits then roll on with akhadas being shown along with all the activities that go on in making a wrestler out of a potential. Through the girls’ cousin Aparshakti Khurana’s voice-over, the film takes us through the journey of the sisters, mainly focusing on Geeta Phogat till her winning gold in 2010 common-wealth games. Babita, her sister, continues to stay in the back-ground till the end because Geeta is the one competing at the inter-national level. Ultimately, the story is of Geeta winning an international medal after successive defeats at that level. Everyone is a supporting character, be it Mahaveer’s wife Sakshi, the cousin, the chicken-supplier, or even her coach at NSA in Patiala.

I wouldn’t want to write much about the ‘trajectory’ of the movie since that is something to be experienced and enjoyed. Everybody knows the ‘wikipedia’ story of the Phogat sisters by now, especially after Aamir’s own Satyamev Jayate episode. The main strength of the movie is how it inter-laces folksy humor –[Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, and especially Suppandi and Shikhari Shambhu are the ones that I reminisced about when watching the movie]— with story-line progression. This is a remarkable achievement for the writers. Here’s the difference: In all movies that depict the hinter-land, there’s always a ‘glorification’, a ‘pride’ that one doesn’t speak or understand English. And who laughs at such scenes: The English-speaking or English-butchering lucky elite like me. When Dhanush equates FORGET ME with I LOVE YOU TOO in RAANJHANA or when Salman says he can be a soo-soo guy to woo Anushka in SULTAN, it is clearly addressed to make US [the de-monetization unaffected folks] condescendingly laugh. In such films, the attempt is to make the so-called elite laugh at the ‘attempts’ of the hinter-land to ‘equal’ us [which to me as a privileged-person thanks to that phenomenon called accidents of birth is offensive and insulting]. But in DANGAL, these are the lyrics when Geeta fights ‘men’:

निक्कर और त-शर्ट पहन के आया साइक्लोन
(हन जी)
रे निक्कर और त-शर्ट पहन के आया साइक्लोन
लगा के फोन बता दे सबको
बचके रहियो बघड़ बिल्ली से
चंडीगार्ह से या देल्ही से
तनने चारो खाने चित्त कर देगी
तेरे पुर्ज़े फिट कर देगी
डाट कर देगी तेरे दाँव से बढ़ के
पेंच पलट कर देगी
चित्त कर देगी, चित्त कर देगी

In whatever Haryanvi twang one uses English words like T-SHIRT, CYCLONE, or even the word Nikkar, there is a ‘context’ to it by extrapolating it to the KHAP-infested Haryana patriarchal mind-set. There is a meaning to those scenes when the girls are made to wear nikkar; when they complain about not being comfortable running wearing salwar-kameez.

Going back to what I mentioned about the experience of listening to stories my grand-father narrated to me, I need to re-iterate, it is that singular strength of this movie. Narrating serious events through comical situations or every-day life situations is not an easy feat: That’s where Chaplin scored, and that’s where even here, Nitish Tiwari scores. [I hope nobody is offended; I am NOT comparing Chaplin to Tiwari, but it’s just the thought-process]: Some people have the knack of explaining complex life philosophies through simple truths. That one scene contrasting a girl’s life after marriage to Geeta and Babita’s regimen is testimony to the fact: Or the fact that meat is required if you need to compete at international levels— [of course, Javagal Srinath was a fantastic masala-dosa bowler {} — but as per Phogat, one needs to eat meat or chicken or whatever to give you the requisite protein]. It is very humorously conveyed here and such cinematic moment-to-moment depictions are the film’s success: Or the fact that Mahaveer watches and disciplines/tutors Geeta by watching her lost-matches in a seedy theater where the owner is made to believe that exotic porn movies made with high production values from Atlanta or Jakarta are being watched: Or the wonderfully hilarious scene where each and everyone in the village is an expert on reproductive science and especially the ‘proven’ way to give birth to a baby-boy and not a girl-child. There’s a scene when Geeta wins her first medal. The entire village is celebrating, even the men who ridiculed or were skeptical are dancing away. The director cuts to a shot of an old tooth-less woman who, hesitatingly as well as enthusiastically, blesses her and wishes her good luck: A fantastic scene that, a minutiae, but one that conveys a myriad of emotions of a woman who is just waiting for her death. Did she desire to become Geeta Phogat – or an individual woman of strength— in her younger days? Or is she still confused with the messy churning of traditions and personal desires?

Coming to comparisons with SULTAN, surprisingly, DANGAL managed to make me completely forget SULTAN and hammered my mind the world of a difference that exists between Aamir as an artist, a star-actor and Salman as a super-star. There is a world of difference between these two films thematically, and if Salman, when not drunk, would concur with me immediately. Of course, there are some negatives in this film. The chicken-vendor story is a direct throw-back to SULTAN’s Kukreja cookers. The dialogue between Phogat and Geeta regarding women’s emancipation from cooking and baking before her finals is again a copy-paste of Shahrukh’s from CHAK DE INDIA— [which of course, is a re-working of MIRACLE {}– but Shah Rukh’s was much more impactful. The second half, technically, for about a period of 10 minutes, does seem stretched, especially since they are coming on the heels of SULTAN’s MMA matches. However, the semi-final match with her opponent from an African country [ I cannot recall the country, if I am a racist or pre-judiced because of this, so be it] is a thrilling ride in terms of cinematic execution. The primary one, of course is the one between Geeta and Mahaveer when the all-human emotions creep over. It’s NOT at all a match of strength or wit; it’s just a tussle amongst a myriad of confused emotions of a father’s jealousy, his insecurity, his age, the daughter’s exposure to a new world of fun and enjoyment, her new-found freedom, her own-way of rebellion against a father who comes-off as a dictator. And to the folks that would obviously complain about parents imposing their failures or unfulfilled-dreams on their children, just watch Phogat massaging the girls’ legs and his consequent conversation with his wife.

Regarding the performances, finally, it’s the girls that, both as kids and young-adults, tug at your heart-strings. They are fantastically devoted to their acts: But to me, it is Aamir all the way who wins the show. Why? Just look at the pitch of his performance. He is fantastic whether he is the disciplined and dictatorial father or whether he is someone begging a sports-official to provide some funds. [Fine directorial tactic that! In another scene, when Mahaveer finally, albeit in a controlled-fashion, loses his cool and tells the official that it’s because of him that talents in India suffer, the man simply gets up from his chair and says that he is ready to get up from his chair! ‘Could you please, then, Mr. Phogat, have roti with butter? What a great thoughtful touch that is, in under-lining status quo!!] Or the scene when Geeta loses international matches and Aamir so hesitatingly – just as he frustratingly takes time in his real life to approve scripts – just waits, and waits, and waits, and finally answers the phone with a ‘Haan’ to his daughter. I, of course, am biased here since I am an emotional-introvert and it moved me to tears but it’s not impossible to lose the hidden love and the sense of belonging in that scene.

I can go on and on and on writing about this one: But that would be my failure as a writer/reviewer. If I cannot encapsulate in few words that a mammoth of emotions that’s on display in this film, I need to take a back-seat.

Have a free-mind, and savor this film. It is again Aamir as an artiste and an actor that succeeds: As I said before, he is the root, and the root is always muddy, but the one that gives varied hues and colors of life..

That this man Aamir just doesn’t care about super-stardom is evident; and that’s what folks like us care about him, that he is careless about that..

82 Responses to “An Jo on Dangal”

  1. Thank you Sanjana, RajuJanak, and Aamirsfan.

    And thank you Satyam for making a post of this comment.

    What a movie!!

    I am of course, watching it again. How many times, I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AnJo – I read your review 3 times again and whoa! from where do u get such beautiful collage of well-knit thoughts and what perception! I am writing my comments again here from the BO post –
      AnJo – your review is the finest out all the 200+ reviews I’ve read and you actually have got the real spirit of the film bang on. Thank you so much for this. Satyam I’d give ur write-up a 10/10 but AnJo takes 11/10🙂 don’t mind it pl🙂

      There is no need to compare this to any of the past movies – the movie stands tall on the script and story-telling – and the performances are so towering combined with that heart-thumping soundtrack that you just want to enjoy the movie which remains in your system for a long time….why bother anything else?

      – Mahavir and Gita fight scene and the phone scene where Gita breaks down are pure cinematic magic – just for these 2 scenes the price of ticket is worth it

      IdeaUnique (:-))


  2. Filmy~Keeda Says:

    Fantastic movie, fantastic write-up! Watching it again too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An Jo,
    Have to say I have become a fan of your reviews. Another lovely example here.


    • Thanks much Rajan, What can I say? I react ‘DIL SE’

      Please watch this movie again; if you get a chance. I will, because my instincts till me I missed quite a lot, and I really want to savor them.


  4. Don’t get an ego An-Jo but you’ve entering professional reviewing skills – I say this as you keep it simple and accessible to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL Jayshah..I am one of the least qualified to review in the face of giants like Rangan, Q, and Satyam. I only react; I don’t review.

      But yes, I will cherish your advice.

      I only want folks to enjoy what I enjoyed. It’s fine if they don’t agree with me; only want them to give such films a chance..


    • Naa…now you are way too qualified , brilliant review.
      the Kukreja cookers and the chicken seller similarity. I had totally missed it.


  5. Really enjoyed reading this. Whilst I wasn’t overwhelmed by the movie, your writing gives me a great insight into what you (and clearly so many others) have appreciated about the film.


  6. Very good review An Jo. Good you loved it as much.


    • Thanks Master. I understand you haven’t enjoyed the movie as much as I did..but still you did recognize the merits in the movie, and that’s what counts..


  7. I, fundamentally, oppose to the Supreme Court diktat of having folks force-fully stand-up to my country’s National Anthem: I had already posted in some other post as to the Indo-China war being the main reason for this. That’s perfectly understandable at that point in time.

    But in this movie, the way the National Anthem and it’s spirit mainly is conveyed, is brilliant. In essence, the way one respects one’s country is not through words but through actions. The way it is conveyed here is brilliant. Now I do not know whether it was woven into the script before or after the Supreme Court injunction. But what a fantastic depiction!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am opposed to it as well, I doubt if it was woven after the SC verdict but man that was a really proud moment.
      I did stand up and consequently some other people followed as well.
      Aside- getting off the fully recliner chair was bit discomforting though !! lol!!!


  8. An Jo, I am really kicking myself for forgetting to include your name in the most wanted list of reviewers. blame Modi for that .
    Sorry for that man ,
    what a review, and what refrences
    Charlie Chaplin, Haider, Bacchchan, the class divide, your grand father and the fact you being an introvert to the phone scene.
    This is one of your best reviews, and is tempting me to watch the movie again !!


  9. this is a wonderful read An Jo.. one of your best pieces…


  10. What a fantastic movie this is! Repeat viewing for sure!
    Perhaps the best sports movie out of India.


  11. An Jo: Thanks for taking out the time to write this brilliant analytical piece of the film. I’m going to keep coming back to this review many times.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a terrific review of Dangal by Subhash K Jha


  13. Really enjoyed reading. Since I see no chance in the near future of watching this film I’ll just cherish the review.
    Thanks An Jo

    I’m glad that Sultan does not make the theme of wrestling as a been there done that thing in Dangal.


  14. I have read the review couple of times and I must say your reviews are most accessible in writing.


  15. video/1

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A few interesting things that also stood-out & some that failed:

    1. Aamir’s expressions after losing to Geeta. He plays some card-board game with one of his his younger daughters but there is a myriad of expressions on his face: He thrown in there the emotions of inferiority, loss-of-control on his daughter, self-doubt on whether his techniques are in-deed as his daughter alludes to. Aside, ONLY after Babita tells Geeta that it’s not the techniques that are failing, but his age, do we see Aamir swallowing a pill.

    2. When Aamir first meets the NSA coach and talks of her potential, and when Girish Kulkarni sits down, to the left, one can see the image of a ‘pehelwan’ from an akhada!! Not some winner standing in front of a hi-tech sports facility! The irony is not lost. So there’s a coach who is insulting an akhada product, Mahaveer Singh, when there’s an image right up there with a guy holding a mace!

    3. The most horrific part of the script was the one-sided depiction of the NSA coach. It was not the way it was displayed, but the fact that they used a wonderful and outstanding actor like Girish Kulkarni to play a one-note role, which could have been enacted by ANYBODY. And one can see, if one has followed Girish’s acting prowess in Marathi films [or even in UGLY as I pointed out somewhere], it is distressing to see this actor being wasted here. And this is a lesson in how one can make fantastic actors make look weak by bad writing, and more importantly, by wrong casting. When one thinks back, there is actually not much wrong with the ‘arc’ of the coach’s thinking and strategies: In one shot, it is CLEARLY conveyed what his wishes are: Who brings what? I don’t care. I want the ‘number’ of medals to add up; gold, silver, bronze – they don’t matter. But Mahaveer’s sight is on something totally different. He won’t settle for anything but gold because there’s nothing left for him to lose; but for the coach, it might be his ego, but more than that, it might be his contract extension!!

    4. The ridiculous depiction of the Australian wrestler and her coach during a press-event: Even Ramanand Sagar could have done a better job of it in RAMANYAN if he were asked to execute that scene.

    5. ERRATA: I, of course, am biased here since I am an emotional-introvert and it moved me to tears but it’s not impossible to lose the hidden love and the sense of belonging in that scene.

    ** the word should be possible, not impossible**


  17. And when I talk about the fantastic phone-scene in DANGAL, it takes me back to this scene in SHAKTI, where NO words are exchanged, but 2 outstanding actors at display show what it means to act WITHOUT words exchanged..not good at YOUTUBE cutting talent.. but watch from 2:23 onwards..


    • Though I don’t agree with the easy objections that have been launched at Aamir or the film I don’t agree with this piece either. Talking about Phogat (the actual figure) yes he trained his daughters but he did so primarily to service his own ambition and not really for women’s emancipation! Now it’s true that ultimately those girls got a better fate than they might have otherwise (the film makes this clear in the marriage scene) but that’s a different debate since the father didn’t do it primarily for that reason. Now as for the film itself nothing forces Aamir to select this script. The same women’s emancipation message can be made using a number of scripts. The idea that ‘one is just playing a character’ doesn’t quite wash because one doesn’t quite have to play this very character.

      All of this doesn’t mean I’m placing an additional burden on the film much less Aamir (whatever his positions on women’s issues that doesn’t mean he has to play that sort of character in every film, he can play anyone he wants to). I’m only arguing against a)the easy praising of the film for being completely progressive when in fact the film’s multiplex audience already agrees with this message (yes it’s a more important message for other smaller center audiences though I hesitate to frame things even this way.. won’t get into the reasons here) b)playing the devil’s advocate (you can criticize the film at a certain level without doing it in foolish ways).

      A deeper point should be made here. There is nonetheless a problem when women’s emancipation comes about on ‘male’ terms. The whole ‘women can do anything men can’. But this shouldn’t be the condition for women’s equality. Maybe women cannot do many things men can. So what? Similarly men also can’t do many things women can. I’m not taking a position one way or the other, just arguing this point. Again I don’t have a serious issue with Dangal on any of these scores for the simple reason that you can’t blame a commercial film for not going that deep into things. So even though I can understand the criticism partially I also find it silly otherwise. But I’d repeat though that nothing forces an actor or director to take on certain subjects and not others.

      If anything I am much less interested in small town prejudices (important though it is to battle these) and more concerned with metro-centric complacency. The ‘easy’ ways in which people pat themselves on the back for being progressive on a whole host of issues (most of these debates are ‘colonized’ anyway) without being remotely so. Take even Pink. A film which went further on these issues in some ways but on the other hand could so because it was a small film preaching to a subset of even the multiplex audiences who again probably shared the message anyway. Or who could at least subscribe to the fantasy (how many people honestly believe that women who indulge in their sexuality in certain ways should not be judged negatively at all? Yes even today? But of course no one’s ever going to admit this! We’re all for the Pink message!). Again I liked the film at many levels and appreciate the director’s sincerity and so on. Just making a larger point.


  18. Spoilers – Finally seen it. I wan’t emphatically impressed, it’s a lovely film in its own right and deserves praise, not the kind it’s got ( in terms of comparisons to Lagaan). I found the best comparison to be JJWS rather than CDI. The template of the inter relationship between father and two sibings was apparent in JJWS. The sport of wrestling is really bought to life and by the second half one is really into it. Personally have little quibbles, An-Jo has mentioned some like the Australian press conference, they are isolated moments that do not mess up the overall experience. The climax in the films context was fine – quite sad too that Mahavir who made the kids what they are cannot see THAT memorable performance & has to wait for the national anthem to know Geeta has won.

    Aamir is deadly performance wise – he has so many breakdown scenes in his career that are not melodramatic ala Ghajini but quite refrained and classy (his rant with father in QSQT, breaking down in AHAT, Lagaan speaking to mum, DCH on the phone, RDB when he chewing on food, most of the second half of Fanaa, TZP rant with parents etc). His performance is moving & his transformation was great to see. It is true the girls take centre stage but he is the glue & the central plot line. He is very good with such scenes not aping or corny at all.

    On conception of Sultan and Dangal (whichever came first) I was very unsure about such an abstract sport finding success. But I have been proved wrong for sure.

    It’s a pure family entertainer and it is one of many good Aamir Khan films and one of many good Aamir performances, His sequence post Lagaan is remarkable. Even in the 90’s he has a few gems here or there but he is by far the best script picker & I suspect most his recommendations benefit the overall film (ghost directing).

    On the box office I am not at all surprised how the film has taken off. It has all the ingredients for any demographic. There is very little not to like or moan about. Better than P.K his last film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you finally saw it Jay. And nice comment here. On Aamir’s script sense since Lagaan I think it’s all things considered the single best of any major star in bollywood history. Because working with great directors and script writers doesn’t take a genius. Stars become huge abd automatically work with the best talents of their day. But this is not what Aamir has mostly done.


      • Best way to describe it is this is a famine stage in script terms & he is still feasting!


      • I think there are always scripts which are good. But they go haywire in implementation. With Aamir at helm, he makes sure things are followed to the T.

        I think the goodwill he has garnered in 90s with smaller successes helps in maximizing audience for any genre. I always see people who don’t go for any movie show up Aamir one.




    • Spoilers

      I’d add the earthy, rural feel is very important. There is hardly any glitz or glam if there is it is depicted in the way of a distraction like watching DDLJ (found this a dig, not a nod to SRK), makeup, shopping, food binge etc. It’s a very true film. Moments like buying the chicken, sticking down money on book as memory, the scenes of the superstitious ways to make a boy, the old telephone are a hoot. It’s a parting from the cinema thrown at us today. It will remind the riches of what ‘real’ life was about and the less well off are shown in this Lagaan like setting, a kind of family village where everyone knows everyone. There are even certain lines I just remembered Lagaan. When the girls do something right Mahavir ala Bhuvan would say ‘haaa aise hai’. The local folk thinking Mahavir is an idiot very much like Bhuvan, automatically gets the support of the audience, you want his methods to succeed. Even the fight scene between Mahavir and Geeta is brilliance at display. The desire is for Mahavir to win, Geeta is a bit too cold in the scene but the struggle of Mahavir is deliberately placed to win the audience. Babita’s dialogues after justify the scene, only recalling the English…you won not because he is weak in his methods but because he is weak in his age. The telephone scene AnJo refers to, Mahavir’s stubborn silence turns into heartbreak within a blink of an eye after hearing Geeta’s tears. The design structure of the film always depicts Mahavir as crazy, too disciplined, a bad father, a has been coach or just plain stubborn.

      Mahavir is the character everyone will empathise with and support.

      We got no one standing at end for anthem, it’s not a tradition at all. But during matches I did hear children clapping and getting excited and upset. By the end there was a round of applause and my wife turned to me to say ‘they’ve taken the film seriously’. I wanted to lol at her as she was sobbing throughout and leaning forward near the end watching the semi final…she was watching seriously but she hasn’t seen a reaction by audience like that. The scenes are flooding back, I could definitely watch this again.

      By no means is this a copy of Lagaan, but drive of Bhuvan and Mahavir is similar; misplaced confidence, they are both respected first but then considered crazy. Lagaan having the cricket factor and Rahman’s memorable score push that film into an altogether different league. As Qalander said it could be a top 5 Aamir film….there are a few too many to pick from.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are batting/writing like as if you just scored a century!

        I had moist eyes during Naina song.


        • Unfortunately the centuries are scarce like Satyam lol. Naina did that too me. I never used to cry. First time I watched BB I did not. But 2ND time post the incident you know of, my emotions have changed. I cried immensely when I watched BB again at home.

          And Dangal had me a nervous wreck. At times I was very agitated. By the end I felt like Mahavir – beaten down by someone close to me. I’m delighted with the film and it’s performance. It’s a far superior product to P.K even without watching Sultan (please pardon my arrogance) I am certain it’s a better film. Just the trailers, soundtrack tell me this. This film deserves to be sitting a top. But I agree a victory by few crores means nothing today. The market changes monthly.

          There is no comparison Year on Year. Fortunately in same year with unique topics at crux of story with 2 actors at top of game arrive one can make some loose comparison.

          Aamir’s dignified silence, both actors’ support of each others films is a good sign that things are fine. But Aamir has won this battle whichever way you slice or dice it. For me the film was always going to be better, the box office performance just reinforces…bet against him at your peril…he has a knack & gift of pulling a rabbit out of the hat.

          Liked by 1 person

      • great note… the fights incidentally work very well even on a repeat viewing.


        • Well today it’s my parents turn. 2nd watch time.


          • I only have to add the interaction between coach & Mahavir during the 1st round and semi final is probably how a script session goes with Aamir – he just has a different take. And rather than throwing the audience what they want as a star I think he has manipulated his stamp on audiences. I doubt I will go again, it’s quite enough now.

            My sister booked tickets and the film is very hot at the ticket counter and still no Raees trailer 😦


  19. My piece on the best actors of 2016 — only from the films I have been able to watch; and of course I curse myself for still not having watched Manoj in ALIGARH..

    Amitabh continues to be the only actor ever in the history of Indian cinema, and perhaps, even during the much-vaulted Hollywood fad, that continues to be relevant in an age that is considered a benchmark for retirement: While his contemporaries like De Niro or even Pacino continue to act in despicable movies that rely on them popping Viagra in Las Vegas to remain relevant, this actor continues to be a symbol of high cultural currency built up over decades of histrionics. Amitabh is not at a point or an age where he can attract audiences on a pure monetary, box-office level, but he is truly at that point where his mere presence can enhance the prestige of the project that he’s involved in. Pink is a symbolic and culturally-relevant movie: That Amitabh finds himself at age 74 as a septuagenarian in a movie that talks of slut-shaming or takes a harsh look at societal judgement of single, working women in a post-millennial age itself is a testimony to the fact that talent never dies; it just needs some watering to aid in an already present wonderful DNA of a talent. As a mentally-disturbed lawyer in Pink, he just scorches the screen with his empty gazes: Those gazes have wells of pain and philosophy buried in them: If he was the face of pathos in Mili in 1971 staring into nothingness with a decorative glass of whiskey, here, he just sits on a park bench pulling off an ominous mask and stares at Tapsee: That the audience sees something weird but nothing sexually creepy is itself testimony to the fact that he has the capability to translate the director’s vision into actual reality.

    In Teen, he is superb as a world weary grandfather who is so hellbent on keeping his scooter that, inspite of ‘starting problems’, believes that it flies like a rocket once the gears are shifted! This is a finely held back performance. He brings out the contrast between his old age, weariness with a stubborn attitude that goes against the physical dexterity demanded of a fine act.


    Liked by 1 person

  20. My piece on 2016 best actors – curse myself of course for still not having watched Bajpai’ ALIGARH..

    In Salman’s case, curiously, it is as though the more controversies he gets embroiled in, the better his performances get (bad off-screen; better on-screen?) In Sultan, Salman pretty much continues playing the same tripe he doles out film after film. He remains the only star who has benefitted from the south masala model of business, specifically, the Telugu masala model, which has absolutely nothing in common with the rich masala traditions of the Javed-Salim-Amitabh combo of the ’70s and can hardly hold a candle to that era of masala-tropes. Out of the three Khans, Salman is the only ‘actor’ who has just been carrying on with stock expressions showing very, very limited growth in terms of accumulations and growth in the expression basket. But in Sultan, only in the parts where he plays the Rocky Balboa rip-off coming to terms with age and declining fame, he connects with a heart felt performance. The tears that flow are real and it’s hard to miss the ‘son-of-the-soil’ persona he projects. When he is stunned and conveys his shock at what Amit Sadh’s Aakash Oberoi expects of him by asking him to fight in a MMA and replies that the only move he knows is that of ‘dhobi pachad’ but hey, this one, bloody hell, has chamaat, thappad, and even gaalis, it is impossible to stay unconnected with Salman’s Sultan Ali Khan and his internal fight between goals and obstacles.



  21. Chief Film Critic
    Owen Gleiberman
    Chief Film Critic

    A Bollywood girl-power drama about a father-coach turning his daughters into star wrestlers is too much of a formula thing.

    Aamir Khan, the star of “Dangal,” is as formidable and celebrated a movie star as India has going. Two years ago, he played the lead character in “PK,” a sci-fi comedy about an alien who visits earth and points out everything wrong with it; the film went on to become the top-grossing movie in Bollywood history. Fifteen years ago, Khan starred in “Lagaan,” the transporting colonial cricket-match musical that was the last Indian film to be nominated for an Academy Award. In “Dangal” (the title means “Wrestling”), Khan has aged nicely. He keeps his short muscular body poised, and his cropped hair sets off jutting ears, plunging eyebrows, and a serene scowl that almost never leaves his face; he looks like a jock version of Salman Rushdie. Yet within that tight-lipped mask, he finds a hundred ways to communicate emotion.


  22. love your review and writing as usual another sixer here.
    Haven’t read comments.
    As a sports movie, national level champion at home loved it. For me it was writer’s revenge on audience for not watching Gita’s gold winning match. I loved M.S. Dhoni, for evey single scenes, over dangal, as ‘sports’ movie or biopic. Though I don’t care for cricket or wrestling, so I don’t have sports bias there.
    Disagree on Aamir’s, Mr “Perfectionist’s” acting.
    I would say over acting.
    There is always one scene (or many scenes) in every movie of his, where desperate to show histrionics or “look-at me, look-at-me”, he over does it, opera style and I have major eye rolling moments in all his movies. In RDB it was the scene where is crys/chokes up eating-chewing roti. He has many such choke moments in SMJ too. So now I wonder if he totally relishes being a drama queen. In Dangal, where he crys and pleads with tears in his eyes to not expell Gita from NSA was wayyy over the top (Ramanant Sagar would have done better here). Move over Tabu, learn crying from Aamir. Agar pitch perfect performance ho toh you have to watch Manoj Bajpai who never has imperfect moment or never veers from arc of a character or DDLewis. Suddenly a village bumkin in dangal becomes a master planner-schemer-strategist. How convenient! Aamir, I would rank in the same level as Salman, for acting chops )or stardom). Actually below because if salman were to give that many retakes, he would be much better than aamir!! Over rated. Over-acting and takes himself to be great actor, wihch he is not. always…great scene maker but not a great character actor at all.
    Also, All this script sense B.S. Even Akshay kumar is taking great decisions in scripts. It is not a rocket science or requires wharton MBA.
    P.S. loved references to dadaji in the review! You have his blessings and you are great writer as well…just keep writing…everytime drinking urge comes, go and write something.


    • one more thing about his performance I noted as I walked out of dangal: his facial expression. Thru’ out this movie, his eyebrows are lifted at the bottom. ENTIRE movie. In PK it was also single expression thru’ out the movie. So that is thespian for you AJ.


      • Di: Thanks for your kind words: However, I would dis-agree with your take on Aamir’s acting. The point where I would, of course, meet you half-way is that he is not a one-size-fits-all actor like an Amitabh. He has his limitations – he didn’t convince me in MELA or D3 or even some parts of MANGAL PANDEY for that matter – but it was fantastic to see him ‘shoo’ away an ‘untouchable’ who crosses his path; a great scene that encapsulates the wonderful confusions of cinema – a Muslim actor, playing a Brahman who shoos away an ‘untouchable.’

        He was outstanding in RANGEELA. It was criminal that SRK walked away with the best actor in DDLJ. I think that was the first time my confidence was shattered in FILMFARE awards: Of course, DDLJ was THE block-buster and RANGEELA was hardly a match for it box-office wise, but Aamir’s tapori act, at that point in time, was a STAND-OUT performance that any other Khan could hardly have enacted without hamming it out.

        Regarding the scene you talked about in RDB, one must remember the ‘trajectory’ of that character. Aamir plays a spoilt brat throughout uptil that point: Till that point, he is quite happy being the ‘cool’ guy on campus. In one of the previous scenes, he is seen talking to another guy about how he is ‘old’, and hanging around the college since he is afraid to venture out lest he find himself ‘uncool’ in the real world; here, in this college, although a wastrel, he is in an imaginary command and some juniors ‘fear’ or ‘respect’ him. Coming from that point, when he sees that this ‘cool’ web that he has built around himself with friends starts being cleaned out, with whatever happens to Soha, he breaks down: That act is a wonderful act – not a ‘come-see-me-act’; because primarily, there is no scene before that in the movie where you see him doing that!

        Aamir is remarkably restrained in DANGAL and plays his age quite efficiently. That scene where he cries in front of the officials is because he realizes he might be a national champion, but his daughters HAVE to go through the bureaucratic set-up if they were to even have a chance at international competitions. A complete ‘wipe-out’ of his dreams and what he put them through is what breaks him down: a mixture of his own selfish pursuits as well as the recognition that his girls indeed have it in them. Just contrast this scene with that scene where he asks his brother for Omkar’s help from his father – there is arrogance written throughout Aamir’s face.

        If there is any actor in Indian cinema, who is capable of ‘come-see-me-act’ syndrome, it is Kamal Haasan [per my limited knowledge], whether it is MAHANADI or the NAYAGAN break-down scene..

        And that’s why, for me, Hassan’s performance in the remake of DRISHYAM is a remarkable achievement for Hassan: after years of super-stardom, shedding that stardom and matching Mohanlal – the king of ‘comman-man’ acting – is an OUTSTANDING achievement..

        Lastly, no 2 words about it, but to put Aamir and the 3-note ‘actor’ Salman in the same line, at least when it comes to acting credentials, is blasphemous to say the least.

        Salman’s best performance, to-date, remains his appearance and statements in front of some judges in his driver-less car case…

        Liked by 2 people

        • An Jo, Di is an ardent admirer of Mamta Di from WB 😉


        • I don’t have complains to his acting per se and you don’t have to explain all the scenes. I get it. Trajectory and all that. He is very effective and even good at scenes without a doubt (but not that big deal IMO). I enjoy his acting; his crying or non-crying scenes even but especially crying scenes because I can easily be manipulated into crying with him, in all those scenes. For instance in PK, his scene-dialogue with god, is complete tear-jerker and one watches it whenever one wants a good cry in their spare time. So entwined he is in this tear-generating scene, that he even blinks. And watch how he drops his bag and helmet on the floor, drama, drama.

          Then There is one particular scene in earth that I am a huge fan of. Mashalla, what acting in that scene. But i would not go as far as making him daniel day lewis that you are hell bent on making him, in this Dangal review. It is the arc or
          staying/understanding/knowing the character. For that the rewards would go to likes of Manoj Bajpai in contemporary Hindi cinema.
          As far as “look at me, look at me” goes, I guess, I was bit harsh; every aspiring artist goes into acting or art world for that one reason and one reason alone. Ranveer singh comes to mind right away but they all have singular motivation of wanting people to pay attention to them. Be it shy or unintelligent, the desire is to make world look at you, admire you even.


        • Naa, it’s from Trishul ..Bachchan to Mr. R.K. Gupta !!


        • On kamal hasan: That scene is from tamil-regional cinema and you can’t really compare. But otherwise I agree with you on his skills as an actor.
          I enjoy and even look forward to aamir’s movies but won’t compare his acting chop to anyone other than likes of Anil Kapor. Masala actors who entertain, create some great scenes but you always see Aamir and not phogat or any character he is playing. For the god dialogue in PK, he has no problem in coming out of alien character, blink many times (which he didn’t in the entire movie because he was staying in ‘character’ lol) and do whatever to make us cry with him. That is manipulative. When you are watching salmam, aamir, shahrukh, are always watching the star and never the character. And Aamir has increasingly used singular expression thru’ out his movies. PK and Dangal, both were jarring on this note, for me.
          IMO bajpai, randeep hooda are actors who can play characters and are interested in cinema as true artists other than pecuniary reasons that aamir and his ilk has. If you see MB or RH in movies, you forget them as actors and you get absorbed in the characters they are playing.


        • ” very hard to please bordering on almost impossible!! And also holds grudges in one’s heart forever”
          If I held grudges, I would never be on this site after sattu repeatedly told me to leave. Ha! Though it is true that I am not easy person to make friends with, but if I do, then I become super fan, like I am of AJ.
          And impossible to please: hey hum log (Josh me aaye joshiji aur mai) keval behas kar rahe hai, faltu mai…apke pet mai kyun dukhta hai? I am surprised that AJ’s unbridled rnthu, going ga-ga over aamir…I am trying to rein him in, just as Nitesh tried on aamir in dangal and failed…lol


          • I didn’t tell you to leave. for the record. However if one is going to keep dissing a blog for whatever reason logic suggests the obvious and I might have been logical!


          • And i made a futile attempt to rein you in in your “xenophobia” of Aamir as is evident by your consistent tone of non-acceptence of Aamir’s skill as an actor by keep referring him along the Salman the thespian!! One is free to like & dislike an actor as per one’s choice but your choices & reasons for those choices are bizarre to say the least!! You almost got to admit Aamir’s prowess as an actor but still put a big “but” in the end for reasons best known to you for your Aamir hatred!! You get manipulated by Aamir in to crying yet he is only as effective as Salman as an actor?? Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin, Irrfan, Rajkumar Rao are not mainstream actors & if you want to see Aamir in that mode, watch “1947 Earth & Raakh” as these 2 are testimony to Aamir’s acting talent. In mainstream hindi films, Actors can’t be too subtle for the fear of going beyond audience’s head as “loud & in your face” acting is appreciated & also demanded by hindi film audience. Aamir makes an effort towards giving a balanced performance where he is neither too subtle nor too loud and by doing so he tries to reach out to the optimum audience. Watch him in Dhobi Ghat, where he is pitch perfect as a reclusive painter without trying to play to the gallery. But he can’t afford to play all his characters as nuanced as he was in Earth or DB as they would not appeal to masses, hence he plays to the gallery yet keeping a fine balance by not going overboard like most other actors tend to do & this is where he is able to connect with class & mass in equal measure.

            Liked by 1 person

          • arrey yaar…I don’t hate him or love anyone else. Chalo agree with you. I wish Salman was serious and gave as many retakes, lol. Salman has limited sets of expression and I felt that in PK and Dangal, Aamir too kept same expression thru’ out the movie, after all he was in-character…roflol. Anyhow, in a right, capable director, both aamir and srk will shine, if they are reined in, from ‘acting’. Aamir trys too hard, IMO. srk has theater bkgrd which I really respect him for but what a waste in terms of actor after that. I enjoy aamir, go to his movies but I won’t go ga-ga like our AJ and his acting in dangal.
            I won’t change my opinion on MB. I would rank him even higher than Nasir, in terms of my personal preferences. And that is saying a lot. Watch Pinjar again. I forgot that Manoj was indian, a hindu…and I felt so bad for him that I wanted to give him a big huge hug, even though he was pakistani,,,mashalla, that is a character..if there was acting, being a character, then that would be it!!! Never has a hindi movie (romance) moved me so much. so what if pinjar didn’t do sau crore. I would watch it anyday over any commercial movie! I can’t think of aamir movie like pinjar. If aamir was in pinjar, he would act his head out, cry so much….pur a melodrama bana dega…banging my head on wall…


          • No one is forcing you to change your likes and dislikes. But you are almost forcing An Jo to revisit his appraisal of Dangal. Do you feel betrayed?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Di you are going in circle as your personal favourite performance can be of Emraan Hashmi in Murder, but why compare it to Dev Anand’s Guide?? Can Manoj Bajpayee be half as good as Aamir was in Rangeela playing Munna?? Or can Aamir be half as effective as Shahrukh was in Swades as Mohan Bhargav?? Nor can I imagine Amitabh pulling off Rajesh Khanna’s Anand role with the same effectiveness!! So your foundation for comparison is misplaced as your expectations from Aamir to pull off Manoj Bajpayee is silly & senseless as reverse is also not possible!! So rather than trying to justify your hatred or dislike for Aamir, be candid that you don’t hold Aamir in a high esteem as an actor. Plain as that may sound but it’s your own choice to like or to not like anyone or anything irrespective of what people make out of it!! Let’s move forward with agreeing to disagree with one another’s point of view without hurting any one 🙂


  23. Rong Rong Di…..
    Khem cho ??


  24. Nitesh Tiwari on the Father-Daughter confrontation scene –


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: