Since the turn of the century, or precisely with the release of Lagaan in 2001, Aamir Khan had literally reinvented himself, in terms of an acting superstar as well as in expanding creative controls over the films with his own production company. The following years had witnessed him appear in very selective projects and his gradual emergence as an almost ‘everyman’ messiah figure across a string of films. As a result, the release of an Aamir Khan film has managed to gain extra attention from fans and critics alike.
In terms of narrative, the trailer of Dangal is quite straightforward in its communication. A middle aged wrestling champion manages to overcome his sexist prejudices and decides to train his daughters in wrestling, to fulfil the long cherished dream of a gold medal for the country. The idea of Aamir Khan taking up the mantle for a cause is not new as he had previously been the Good youth in Rang De Basanti, the Good mentor in Taare Zameen Par, the Good student in Three Idiots or even the Good alien in Pk! However, the trailer of Dangal promises a more nuanced and well realized protagonist in Aamir Khan with certain excesses and flaws in his character, making him more earthly and believable.
Furthermore, the trailer also has images and moments which hint towards a well-constructed emotional curve of the film. Although none of the elements are exactly new such as initial excitement, faith, conviction, triumph, disappointment or the second coming, but therein lies the mastery of making a genre film without falling into the trap of predictability. However, the images in the trailer produced by DOP Setu look quite promising especially the way the dream of a gold medal and the journey from there is executed. The medal can be first seen hanging on a wall that has begun dilapidating, waiting for a champion and then in locked away in a trunk as the dream is almost given up. And when the spirit of determination and conviction kicks in finally, it is not the image of the medal but an overall golden hue in the frames, in the outdoor shots in the rural landscape which carry the narrative forward. Decisions like these might help the film to escape the dreariness and instead become a pleasant cinematic experience.
But the more interesting thing to look out for would be the film’s overall engagement with the patriarchal prejudices, the hierarchical boundaries of institutions and the notions of woman empowerment which the narrative encounters head on, quite literally. When the dust settles, these will be the factors which will make or break the film in the long run!
Arup Ratan Samajdar