Dangal (English: Wrestling competition) is a 2016 Indian Hindi-language biographical sports drama film directed by Nitesh Tiwari. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Aamir Khan Productions and UTV Motion Pictures, it stars Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler, who trains his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari to be world-class wrestlers, both of who go on to win medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra play the older selves of the sisters while Sakshi Tanwar play their mother and Aparshakti Khurana, their cousin.
The development of the film began in early 2013 when Tiwari began writing the screenplay before signing Khan for the film. Set primarily in the Indian State of Haryana, principal photography commenced in September 2015 in the neighbouring Punjab. Satyajit Pande served as the cinematographer and Ballu Saluja as the editor. Pritam scored the film’s background music and for its soundtrack, lyrics for which were written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. Kripa Shankar Bishnoi, a coach with the Indian women’s wrestling team, trained Khan and the cast for the wrestling sequences.
After a North America premiere on 21 December 2016, Dangal was released worldwide on 23 December opening to positive response with critics; praise centered on the film’s “honest” depiction of a real-life story and Khan’s performance. It was also screened at the Beijing International Film Festival in April 2017 and second BRICS festival in June 2017. At the 64th National Film Awards, Zaira Wasim won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Geeta’s younger self. At the 62nd Filmfare Awards, it won four awards: Best Film, Best Director (Tiwari), Best Actor (Khan) and Best Action (Shyam). The film performed equally well commercially and is the highest-grossing Indian film and the fifth highest grossing non-English film, having collected over ₹2,000 crore (US$310 million), of which more than ₹1,200 crore was earned in China, where it has emerged as one of the top 20 highest-grossers of all time.
Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former amateur wrestler and national champion based in Balali, a village in Haryana. He was forced by his father to give up the sport in order to obtain gainful employment. Dejected that he could not win a medal for his country, he vows that his unborn son will. Disappointed upon having four daughters starting 1988, he gives up the hope. But when his older daughters Geeta and Babita come home after beating up two boys one day in response to derogatory comments, he realises their potential to become wrestlers and begins coaching them.
His methods seem harsh, including grueling early morning workouts and short haircuts to avoid lice. Despite facing backlash from the villagers, he goes ahead with them, training them in his makeshift mud pit. Initially, the girls resent their father for his treatment but soon realise that he wants them to have a good future and not grow up to be stereotypical housewives. Motivated, they willingly participate in his coaching. Mahavir takes the girls to wrestling tournaments where they wrestle boys and defeat them, much to everyone’s utter surprise. Unable to afford wrestling mats, he now uses two layers of mattresses in its place and trains them in freestyle wrestling to prepare them for competitive events. Geeta goes on to win the junior championships at the State- and national-level, and subsequently the national senior championship, before heading to a National Sports Academy, an institute in Patiala to train for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
Once there, Geeta makes friends and begins to disregard the rigour and discipline she has been brought up with. She regularly watches television, eats street food, and grows her hair longer. Also, her coach’s training methods and wrestling techniques differ significantly from her father’s and that she now believes are superior. Demonstrating them on a visit home, she defeats her ageing and visibly exhausted father in a ferocious bout that ensues on his countering of her techniques. Babita tells an unrepentant Geeta that she shouldn’t forget their father’s techniques and reminds her that she owes all success to him. Winning the senior national championships herself, Babita follows Geeta to the academy. Geeta, however, finds herself losing every match at the international level, also losing the singular focus she initially had. Subsequently, her coach coaxes her to compete in the 51 kg weight class changing from 55 kg. Frustrated, and persuaded by Babita, she tearfully makes peace with her father, who comes to Patiala with his nephew (their former sparring partner) and begins coaching them secretly, using the same methods as when they were younger. Learning about this, and furious with Mahavir’s interference, the coach wants the girls expelled, but a deal is struck to allow them to continue as long as Mahavir does not enter the academy or train them elsewhere. Determined to continue assisting his daughters, Mahavir obtains tapes of Geeta’s previous unsuccessful bouts and coaches her by pointing out her errors over the phone.
At the Games, competing in the 55 kg class, Geeta eases her way into the final. During the bouts leading up to it, Mahavir constantly contradicts her coach’s instructions while sitting in the audience which she follows while disregarding the latter. Just before the gold medal bout, the jealous coach conspires to lock Mahavir in a closet away from the arena. Owing to his absence, Geeta lags behind managing to win the first session while losing the second. Trailing 1–4 in the final session, a desperate move from her makes it 1–5. With nine seconds left, she recalls her father talking about a 5-pointer suplex back manoeuvre that despite being difficult, was not impossible to apply. Geeta executes it on her opponent in the final three seconds, taking the score to 6–5 in her favour, thus winning the session, and the bout 2–1. In the process, she becomes the first Indian female wrestler to win gold at the Games. Mahavir returns just in time to embrace his daughters, frustrating the coach’s hopes of obtaining credit before the news media.
The end credits reveal that Babita won a silver medal at the Games, in the 51 kg class and gold at the 2014 Glasgow Games in the 55 kg class, and that in 2012, Geeta became the first Indian female wrestler to qualify for the Olympics with Mahavir’s efforts inspiring dozens of Indian women to take to wrestling.