In 2016 Bollywood filmmakers offered the cinephiles some very interesting biopics. Of these few biopics (read NEERJA & SARBJIT) were based on ordinary people caught in extra ordinary situations, others were based on the life of celebrated sportsmen (MS DHONI: THE UNTOLD STORY & AZHAR).
Then came December and it gave us one of the best films of the year, yes we are talking about Mr. Perfectionist Aamir Khan's DANGAL. Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, DANGAL a biographical sports drama film is based on the life of India's first female wrestler to win Gold at 2010 Commonwealth Games, Geeta Phogat. Nitesh Tiwari might not have impressed us with his previous films as a director, but DANGAL will certainly become a tent-pole project of his career.
While AZHAR starring Emraan Hashmi was a complete washout, MS DHONI: THE UNTOLD STORY became the fifth highest grossing film of 2016. Neeraj Pandey's directorial MS DHONI: THE UNTOLD STORY which released in September took us through the journey of India's most celebrated ‘Captain-Cool' Mahendra Singh Dhoni. This biographical, about MS Dhoni, who is a brand in himself did not receive the kind of mouth publicity DANGAL is showered with.
Sushant Singh Rajput and Mahendra Singh Dhoni tried every trick in the book to promote this biopic. But still the film failed to garner the kind of response one was expecting from it. While Wrestling is one of India's most ancient sports with a very glorious past, however this sport is less popular among the masses as compared to Cricket, which is considered to be a religion in India.
Prior to the release of DANGAL, Aamir Khan or the filmmaker didn't bent down to the clichés of film promotion instead they kept it very simple and low-profile. The real Phogat family too spoke about the film only at its screening. No city tours, no television appearances (read The Kapil Sharma Show) still the film had a great opening and is doing extremely well in the present time even when the industry is grappling with the after effects of demonetization. In just three days DANGAL has hit a ‘century' and is Aamir's biggest weekend collection ever.
So what made DANGAL so special and unique? Is it because it stars Aamir Khan? Or the drastic physical transformation he went through for this film? The answer is No.
DANGAL is special because it breaks away from all the stereotypes and clichés that we have come across in sports drama films so far. The USP of this film lies solely in its gripping narrative. As in a country like India, women wrestlers that too from little known village in Haryana, changing the society's perception towards them by proving their mettle is an incredible achievement in itself.
The storyline and narrative of the film is so impactful that we deeply feel their pain and rejoice in their victory. When the Phogat sisters are wrestling in the film we are not just watching them onscreen but root for them as players, as if they were real wrestlers. This shows that the content is definitely the ultimate king in entertainment business. No matter how hard you try to sell your product if it lacks the quality then even the biggest of ‘brands' won't be able to pull it off.
Time and again films like DANGAL help us in restoring our faith in such filmmakers and their story-telling techniques. We hope to see more such films that are made not just to inspire the audience but are equally entertaining.