There’s a moment when Geeta Phogat (played by Fatima Sana Sheikh) confronts her father over his wrestling technique and pins him down to prove her point. This is by far the most powerfully exhibited scene in Dangal. It taps an emotional chord that goes beyond numbers.
It is reported that Dangal is inching close to the 2000 crore club, owing to a mammoth box office contribution from China. No other Indian film has achieved this feat thus far. Aamir Khan’s previous films 3 Idiots and PK have also been runaway hits in China, but the scale of Dangal’s popularity there has been unprecedented. Released as Shuai Jiao Ba! BaBa, which translates to ‘Let’s Wrestle, Dad’, the success of Dangal is heavily attributed to the father-daughter relationship. It is about defying social norms, overturning gender stereotypes and propelling female empowerment. Both China and India are deeply patriarchal societies, especially when it comes to the older generation. So when the youth, more so the girls see what the film stands for, their connectivity factor increases and they can relate to the emotions and hardships their parents must have experienced. Driven by this strong connection, Chinese families too have continued to throng the theatres, making Dangal one of China’s highest-grossing films of all time.
In crowded countries like ours, where many are competing for the same opportunities, people tend to understand the need of a rigorous regimen to succeed. And when this happens with parental support, it validates our long-held beliefs about the conservative parents-children relationship. At the end of the movie, Geeta Phogat finally follows her father’s advice and goes on to win India’s first ever gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and also becomes the first Indian female wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games. It is the near universal content and appeal that makes Dangal an unimaginable success.
– Varun Kumar | Enterapped