Film Review: ‘Dangal’

Courtesy of UTV

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.

That’s more than you can say for “Dangal,” a one-trick domestic sports drama that drags on for two hours and 40 minutes. “Lagaan,” which was close to four hours, earned every minute of its running time, but “Dangal” is just a thin inspirational tale stretched out well past the point that U.S. audiences will have much patience for it.

It’s based on the true story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler who lived for the proud dream of seeing his country take home athletic “gold.” (It sounds like he’s talking about the Olympics, but he means any international competition.) Due to a lack of government sports funding, Mahavir wasn’t able to go for the gold himself (he became an office worker). So he took his two eldest daughters, Geeta and Babita, and turned them into competitive wrestlers, cutting against the grain of what Indian society wanted and expected girls to be.

In “Dangal,” is Mahavir a domineering stage father, using his kids to live out his failed dreams? No doubt. That’s why he prays to have sons. But when God blesses him with daughters, he transfers his obsession with molding a champion right onto them; as a coach, he’s both a domineering egotist and a de facto feminist. If the movie has a theme, it’s that Mahavir is a patriarchal thinker forced, by circumstance, to move into the 21st century. He’s a lot like India itself.

That means, among other things, that he’s going to treat his daughters with no mercy. When they’re teenagers, he subjects them to a grueling training regimen (worst restriction: no spicy food), and the defining moment comes when he cuts off their hair. It’s a lot like a Marine cut; as the two see it, they’ve been shorn (tearfully) of their identities, which their father will now rebuild from the ground up. There is — or could have been — a resonance to all of this. But Nitesh Tiwari, the director of “Dangal,” works strictly on the surface. The movie isn’t a musical, but it’s got a lot of those tabla-meets-EDM Bollywood dance tracks, and when one of them is laid over a training montage, the effect is less Bollywood than cookie-cutter Hollywood. It’s the equivalent of watching an American movie with the same story starring Greg Kinnear as the dad/coach and Dove Cameron and Lizzy Greene as the daughters, only with the cliché training sequence set to “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” “Dangal” is that kind of movie.

When the girls get older, the film switches actresses (the two younger ones, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, are big-eyed urchins who barely register), and Fatima Sana Shaikh, who takes over the role of Geeta, emerges as Khan’s co-star. She has a gentle, dimpled face, but with her hair cropped she resembles a competitively coiled Kate Winslet, and there’s something touching in her devotion. Geeta is so fierce, yet is so carrying out the will of her father (which becomes her will), that she’s a revolutionary and a bowing disciple at the same time. The movie is way too vague about the essential facts of female wrestling in India. In the first half, it implies that Geeta and her sister are breaking the mold — that they’re heading into boys’ terrain, to the point that they have no choice but to wrestle boys. By the time they land at the National Sports Academy, where the coach becomes a rival to Mahavir, they’re suddenly part of a whole team of young-women wrestlers. When did that happen? You think: Good for India, but it renders the film’s journey more conventional than it had implied.

“Dangal” culminates in a championship bout at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, and Tiwari stages it well. Geeta has to face down an Australian wrestler with a raw-boned look to kill, and as much as any boxing drama, the movie makes you feel the human ferocity in both of them. To raise the stakes, Mahavir isn’t even there; a foe has literally locked him in an office. Geeta, to be true to her father’s dream, must do it on her own. There’s hardly a moment in “Dangal” that doesn’t go according to the numbers, but after 160 minutes’ worth of formula, the movie certainly hits a note of touching tribute to the way girl power is sweeping the world.

Film Review: 'Dangal'

Reviewed at Magno 1, December 20, 2016, New York. MPAA Rating: Not rated. Running time: 161 MIN.


A UTV Motion Pictures release of an Aamir Khan Productions prod. Producers: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Siddharth Roy Kapur. Executive producer: Alan McAlex.


Director: Nitesh Tiwari. Screenplay: Tiwari, Shreyas Jain, Piyush Gupta, Nikhil Mehrotra. Camera (color, widescreen): Setu. Editor: Ballu Saluja.


Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 112

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

  1. jagg says:

    i will never forget this movie..

  2. AJ says:

    The critic who doesn’t understand the fundamental issues the movie is addressing should stick to reviewing Adam Sandler flicks.

  3. a says:

    the critic lacks some basic knowledge about films. what a foolish review.why variety employ such fools

  4. Ballu says:

    “VARIETY” certainly needs more variety where “film critics” are concerned, especially in case of the “chief” types.

    And the current “Chief” needs to learn that just because it pops into his head does not mean it should come out in the open.

    You have a long way to go my dear “Chief Film Critic”

  5. A very good movie. An eyeopener about the Dadagiri of NIS and Federation Coach.
    The text at the end of the movie scrolled so fast that I could not read anything.

  6. Soulspeak says:

    Sir, I think that you should avoid reviewing Indian movies if you dont have any idea about the culture of the country. You were surprised to see that the girls’ father forced them to fight boys whereas in the Sports Academy there were plenty of girl wrestlers.

    A little bit of common sense can clear it to you. The girls belonged to a state where females were not given much freedom to play sports (much less wrestle). The Sports Academy is “National”. It means that not all states have such situation. Many states of India are much more advanced than ‘Haryana’, the state depicted in the movie.

    As you are not a native, you could not guess it from their accent or culture. I can give you that.

  7. Sid says:

    So sick that Pulp Fiction got an A by this reviewer and rate Dangal so low. Maybe didn’t have so many f****s and nobody’s brain got blown up

  8. Dtrain says:

    Why are Variety reviewing foreign films if they have no understanding of the cultural context or filmmaking tradition in which they’re made? Bollywood films are long because many Indians have relatively low incomes and a 2 hour film is therefore not value for money. These films are not made for Western audiences or critics. It would be like going to see a X Men movie and expecting an art house experience. I would expect a reputable publication like Variety to understand this.

  9. tkn5 says:

    My question is, “With this kind of incompetency how did he become the Chief Film Critic?”

  10. KhanSb says:

    Liking him or anyone to Salman Rushdie! How insensitive and culturally inappropriate can this so-called “critic” be. Keep personal opinions to yourself. Pathetic.

  11. I haven’t watch the movie yet, but will see soon.

  12. Anonymous says:

    In order to fully comprehend this movie the whole demeanor including the local accent, the language, the culture, everything has to be taken in before critiquing. The critic mentioned that the actors who played little geeta and babita barely registered in the movie, the young actor who played Geeta trained very hard for this role and she did a phenomenal job in convincing us that she was a formidable wrestler and could take on any guy. The movie tackled many issues and should not be compared to Hollywood sports dramas.
    To be a critic one should not give an impression of an outsider looking in, but that of an insider, who has years of experience and has mastered the tricks of the trade. Since we have Hollywood experts, it would not hurt to have Bollywood experts as well.
    Btw I am not an Indian. I just found this review downright ignorant.

  13. MS says:

    Clearly a myopic and an uneducated film critic. I feel compassion for you since you wrote a review based on your limited knowledge and are getting skewered for it. Hope you will rise above this, do your homework next time about other countries and their cultural context before reviewing films and publishing those.

    • DevanN says:

      An accurate description of the critic.

    • Holly Wood says:

      That’s very generous of you and it would be great if more people were as civil in their posts. But the lesson you hope the critic has learned is one of the many lessons a critic is supposed to learn before critiquing something. As I mentioned in an earlier post, just having an opinion doesn’t make someone a critic.

      Variety is the one to blame for paying someone to do a job they’re not qualified to do. The results speak for themselves in all the posts. Hopefully Variety is listening.

  14. Raja Hassan says:

    From a technical point of view you may or may not be correct, but If you are not an Indian or have not lived in India you will not be able to fathom the feelings that we go through while watching this movie. So your point taken and then flushed down the toilet !!!

  15. jbl0ggs says:

    Here is a prime example of a critic who opens his mouth and proves that anyone can be come a critic.

  16. Kowsalya says:

    I don’t see any contradiction in making the girls playing against boys and then moving onto NSA where there are so many women wrestlers. The same question was asked by my daughter as well, I will type the reply I gave her. The movie starts at a small village where girls are taught only home making and married off at an young age, so there is no sports competition at school level like it happens in urban schools, so the girls have to fight the street boy wrestlers and then move onto district and state level. Once they move onto district level they have entered the women wrestling sports, this is also shown in the dialogue between Aamir khan and the government officer when he requests the officer to fund a wrestling mat for his daughter. The officer the officer says that women wrestling gets a very meagre amount and that he is unable to help.

  17. Princess Leia says:

    firstly, it was not a “drag”. Indian audiences loved the movie because it had a relevant theme,which you would know if you had known anything about india, there is a high rate of female infanticide in haryana, the place where these girls are from. 2nd dont talk about India’s movies being nominated to your very predominantly white awards. 3rd Stop comparing everything to Hollywood, GOD! the Academy awards, the soundtrack, the haircuts. You’re the one who’s superficial. And he is not torturing the girls.. you can only go so far by method of torture, but these girls won several international medals. The Girls had a potential which their father honed. Get your head out of your white a**

    • Bhaswati says:

      Very well said. I was shocked to read this review which completely ignores the context of the movie. Is this a criticism or some kind of joke to feel superior for no apparent reason. My advice would be author should change his profession or the magazine gets a better critic to write film reviews.

  18. Holly Wood says:

    This is a vivid example of how the craft of film critique born out of love of film has devolved from the eras of Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert into the era of Turd-In-A-Punch Bowl Hack With A Screener And An Internet Connection.

    But in this case, it’s way darker than just crappy writing. Google him + Renee Zellweger and see what kind of toxic, hateful creep gets to be called a film critic these days.

    Shame on Variety for giving him a voice.

  19. AG says:

    A very badly written review. t is obvious that the critic did not get the real gist of the movie and ended up writing such a shallow and biased review for such a wonderful film. The movie struck a chord with me and I thoroguhly enjoyed every single minute of it and so did everyone who saw the movie. So I do not think that people should take this review seriously, this is a classic example of careless, shallow and ignorant journalism.

  20. Rajat says:

    Reviews be damned, I loved every minute of this movie! And did i forget to mention there’s also a documentary called “satyameva Jayate” ; made by Aamir Khan on Phogtas; which is only 45 minutes long and might please the critics.
    Me- i went there for entertainment, and I sure enjoyed every minute I spent watching it :) .

  21. AtMt says:

    I commented here a couple of weeks ago, and its gratifying to see that a whole lot of other people who have commented since then share my low opinion of this incompetent, ignorant review. Based on this feedback, I suspect this will be the last review of a Hindi movie we will see from Chief Film Critic Mr. Owen Gleiberman for a very long time. Or at least I hope so.

  22. AMRUTA W says:

    Yawwwwn! Pls watch the movie guys, dont listen to just about anyone!

  23. Oz says:

    All i wanted to say has been said and far more eloquently than what i would have said.
    My only request to Mr critic is that if you want to review a foreign film then the minimum requirement should be that you atleast understand their language. You talk about “tabla-meets-EDM Bollywood dance tracks” but due to your ignorance of the language what you fail to understand that each of those “tabla-meets-EDM Bollywood dance tracks” tell a story and not just visually.
    So, in my most humble opinion i would advice you to stick to reviewing movies which you understand without subtitles. After all you wouldn’t send a librarian to the moon to analyse rock samples,would you?

  24. Andrews says:

    Idiotic Dumbass reviewer. Calls it a number and formula? It’s an actual true story you moron.

  25. modda baba says:

    again another western reviewer fails to understand that a different culture might have different perspectives and nuances. you try to judge a hindi film om Hollywood lines and you fall flat on your face. unfortunately my friend, you have neither knowledge nor capability to review foreign language films.

  26. Moviezoon says:

    this is a nice movie Dangal.

  27. vamsi says:

    hahaha I pity on your world g.k all ican suggest you is Do some research, gather some information about why, where, which, how things happening in out side your home …..(The movie is way too vague about the essential facts of female wrestling in India. In the first half, it implies that Geeta and her sister are breaking the mold — that they’re heading into boys’ terrain, to the point that they have no choice but to wrestle boys. By the time they land at the National Sports Academy, where the coach becomes a rival to Mahavir, they’re suddenly part of a whole team of young-women wrestlers. When did that happen?)….. seriously,so with your logic in USA 15 %population living under poverty then how did they become bill Gates,Jeff bezos,Larry Ellison. when did that happen? and what the hell cate Winslet doing here I can’t understand?

  28. Gyan Mehta says:

    Sorry to be harsh but it looks like some trash written by a bigot who thinks he is a film critic but does not have a clue about anything outside his narrow worldview. I bet the uneducated Einstein can’t even speak/understands a word of Hindi let alone Punjabi. What a कूपमंडूक !

  29. singhovation says:

    This is what happens when you get an uncultured white guy to try and understand the depth of Khan’s film. Hair being shorn in rural India is more than just working the “surface”. Please have someone who understands the culture and not one who has this colonial superiority mindset. This film was meant to both entertain and inform a South Asian audience; not act as a fun, cliché sports movie to entertain the European masses.

  30. roas says:

    owen… u lost all credibility with this article if u had any to begin with

  31. Sid says:

    I read another article by this reviewer that lists the 10 best movies of 2016. He has rated La La Land as the best movie of 2016.

    I was fortunate to see both Dangal and La La Land on the same day.

    I loved both movies but if La La Land was the best movie of 2016, then Dangal is not for behind.

    In fact, I enjoyed Dangal a lot more.

    I have been in this country for more than 30 years and appreciate good movies from Hollywood and Bollywood.

    But being a Chief Critic, there is an immense responsibility for reviewing movies impartially. And this where Owen has failed

    La La Land is very formulaic but pretty entertaining. Dangal is also formulaic but even more entertaining.

    My 10 year old son who doesn’t know a word of Hindi was crying by the end of Dangal and loved every minute of it.

    So please ignore the reviewer and watch Dangal. It is an awesome movie even if you don’t understand Hindi.

    Or you can waste your money watching a snooze fest like Rogue One. (I spent 35 bucks taking my family and want a refund !)

  32. shadygoose says:

    As expected, triggered Indians everywhere. Not sure if y’all understood the essence of what the critic here is trying to convey. I do agree he seems to not look at the movie from an Indian’s perspective. Why should he? He caters to the U.S audience and he has to write a review specifically for them. As someone mentioned below, “A movie is supposed to make you feel good and this movie does it.” If that is your understanding of cinema which unfortunately a majority of Indians have, then this review is not for you.

    The movie was entertaining and a solid acting overall but predictable. Inspired by a true story, there are things that could have been done to solidify the film’s message.

    Quote: “he transfers his obsession with molding a champion right onto them; as a coach, he’s both a domineering egotist and a de facto feminist.”

    True indeed. This real story turned out to be a happy ending but the majority of Indian children aren’t happy/successful with the responsibility of achieving something their parents couldn’t. They give up their ambitions for their parents’ pride.

    Quote: “By the time they land at the National Sports Academy, where the coach becomes a rival to Mahavir, they’re suddenly part of a whole team of young-women wrestlers. When did that happen? You think: Good for India, but it renders the film’s journey more conventional than it had implied.”

    The critic merely points out that a training academy with a lot of girls weakens the movie’s take on women empowerment. Maybe it’s easier for women from other states to get into wrestling but not having a strong backstory for this makes the movie’s message seem trivial.

    India has made several movies about how athletes beat odds to achieve success. The critic isn’t an Indian to empathize with the movie. He’s just suggesting a story so predictable could have been executed better.

    • Prashant says:

      Shadygoose, to your point that the critic is catering to an U.S. audience, I hope you’re not implying a U.S. Caucasian audience only! South Asians are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S. and also increasingly influential in politics and other spheres. Surely, the critique is for them as well and ought to speak to their cultural roots and sensibilities. I do agree parental expectations drove what Mahavir did for his daughters, and yes, he is a de facto feminist, no doubt about that. Mahavir’s character didn’t exactly give out the message in the film that this was about women’s empowerment. However and having said that, his decisions and actions resulted in lifting his daughters out of a life of predictable domestic confinement that women in that part of the country are often subjected to. In complex cultures such as India’s, it is often the male that has the capacity to pave the way for women’s empowerment to emerge and for a road to be carved out for women to march on and decide what direction to take from there on.

      I don’t think the critique needs to emphasize with the movie from a point of view of catering to sentimental values that Indians and people of Indian origin hold, However, he needs to be better informed when talking about a ‘popular cultural product’. Minor irritations aside (such as not referring to India with the female gender (‘itself’), the critic has successfully displayed his shallow understanding of what modernization means for a collective and ancient culture such as that of India’s. India is not ‘forced’ to do things differently today just because the West is doing things in a certain way. Our culture has enough space for the traditional to evolve and co-exist with modernity, in all forms, including in women’s empowerment.

      Reference quote: If the movie has a theme, it’s that Mahavir is a patriarchal thinker forced, by circumstance, to move into the 21st century. He’s a lot like India itself.

      i do appreciate, however, how Gleiberman has shown us (all of us :) ), the courtesy of not giving, what I would call, a condescending review where everything in India is seen through rose-tinted glasses and skims the surface. His review is honest, with well-intention and in depth – but does not do adequate justice to the movie and its cultural contexts.

    • What the critic has failed to understand that Dangal is based out of Haryana, a specific part of India which has a much inferior record of women empowerment than other parts of India. Hence what Mahavir Phogat did is an exceptional tale of courage and defiance. India is not a homogenous entity, it has many states with their distinct culture. Its diversity is extremely difficult to understand even for a lot of Indians. We have female CEOs from the same India and they were making their mark in Corporate World around the same time when Mahavir Phogat was facing social isolation in his small village in Haryana. Once you understand this, you would know why the movie wasn’t incorrect to have many women wrestlers at the Academy and only 2 in Mahavir’s village.

      Though it is a very difficult thing to understand about India and I won’t blame the critic for it. However, his point about this issue is invalid.This doesn’t weaken anything which the movie has tried to portray.

    • Aamir Khan says:

      Agreed that the movie was emotion driven, predictable and may not deliver the same message to different audiences around the world but “Indians understanding of cinema ” is Unfortunate? Really! You mean that only Americans or NRI’s “Understanding of cinema” is right? Nobody else is entitled to have their own tastes and preferences? What Americans expect out of cinema is what Indians should do too? Talk about egotistical.

      Indians are smart enough to know what to look for in an American movie, Chinese movie or a German movie, than why can’t an American learn to know what he gets from different cultures cinemas before he jumps to criticize something he doesn’t understand. You can’t compare apples and oranges. you eat an apple you should judge on an apple’s taste.

      Stop trying to please your adoptive countrymen and open your mind a little.

      • JohnDoe says:

        Thanks. Came here to say exactly this. This movie is about a small village in one state of India – which had particularly bad record in terms of women’s empowerment. It’s like saying that movie Blindside was inconsistent because there are other black kids in Michael Ohers college team.

  33. Shilpa says:

    You have absolutely no perspective and are absolutely not qualified to review this movie. It is brilliant, inspiring, and depicts how this family overcame mountains to achieve the impossible. So utterly disrespectful and offensive to compare this work of art to some crappy Disney show. U do get that this is based on a true life struggle, right? Nothing formula about that. Ur review minimized and disrespected that point. Stick to Hollywood reviews.

  34. Arron says:

    Mr. Owen Gliberrishbrrrrr (whatever), your contribution to this review is nothing but a typical westerners cliched view of India. I bet you’d have gone ga ga if there were snake charmers and flying carpets in the movie, coz that’s all you were taught. That you HAVE to review Indian movies to earn your bread, inspite of a clear lack of knowledge on the subject, makes me feel sad about your condition. Get well soon :)

  35. Anonymous says:

    Looks like you know nothing about India. Hire a better critic for foreign flims because this guy knows nothing. I have only spend six months in India and after seeing the conditions I was able to understand the movie better and damn god it was brillant. After seeing the movie I was in awe.

  36. Savant Kondi says:

    Damn this guy missed the entire point of the movie. More importantly you probably don’t know this story is based on a real story. The movie follows the story with 80% accuracy( Though closing the father in a room part was very cliché) Of course its going to be cliché its based on real life and real life is seldom any exciting. We Indians don’t have many ionic stories portratyed on reel, most get hidden and vanished from the history. This year has not really been great for us, Uri Attack, demonitisation, etc and in such a year Dangal was like a fresh breath, a good ending to a tough year. For us Indians this is one of the finest flim this year. I alreay knew the ending, half the hall knew the ending and still the room clapped everytime she won. The entire hall stood up when the national anthem was played during the ending. This is one of the best flims this year.

  37. Ravi B says:

    This review had me wondering .. did I see the same movie the reviewer did? I definitely think that the reviewer has completely missed the Indian context, the fact that India is a collection of diverse states and not at all homogeneous like the USA is. The state of Haryana is one of the most backward in India when it comes to treatment and status of women, and what Mahavir did is nothing short of revolutionary in the context of how the status of women in that state. At an all-India level also, the girls are an inspiration to women athletes and sportspersons all over India, showing them what real competitiveness and dedication is all about as can be seen from the utter domination of the national level competition displayed by them. All of this and much more has been effectively shown in the film, albeit not in the in-your-face break-out-in-dance-routine style this critic seems to have been expecting from an Indian movie. I also feel that the subtitles simply do not do justice to the dialogue spoken in the Haryanavi dialect and the critic has missed big in terms of message as well as humor by not being able to understand the language.
    What is worse is that the critic seems to be thinking in stereotypes – “Jock version of Salman Rushdie” ? That is one step away from saying “they all look alike” ! I think you should stick to English movies and leave foriegn films to other, more objective and perceptive thinkers Mr Gleiberman.

  38. TIA says:

    Mr. Chief Critic, you do know that you can say you didn’t like the movie without making yourself look like a fool, right?

  39. IndianMovieLover says:

    I am an Indian, I watched the movie and I didn’t find it amazing or anything. It’s a decent movie with a predictable story. The feminist ideas in it have already been shown in many other movies, so I didn’t find anything “wow” there. It’s just a matter of perspective.

    I do understand Indian culture and I do know how hard it is for girls to create an identity for them, especially in rural areas. But every movie needs a good plot, something that keeps you interested. I just didn’t find that in Dangal. I could predict the ending of many scenes as they even begun. It’s just not great movie-making in my opinion. But that’s just me.

    I don’t think anybody should call the reviewer “American white who doesn’t understand Indian culture”. That’s not why he didn’t like the movie.

  40. Arundhati Ghosh says:

    “The movie is way too vague about the essential facts of female wrestling in India. In the first half, it implies that Geeta and her sister are breaking the mold — that they’re heading into boys’ terrain, to the point that they have no choice but to wrestle boys. By the time they land at the National Sports Academy, where the coach becomes a rival to Mahavir, they’re suddenly part of a whole team of young-women wrestlers. When did that happen?” __your confusion is simply because you have imagined all of India to be homogenous, which is wildly untrue. What is represented in the first half is only true for the state (Haryana) that the Phogat family is from (and certain other parts as well). So yes,while there was no social support for training female wrestlers in a remote village in India, that wasnt the case say, in other parts of the country. Geeta Phogat’s story is still important because in spite of such odds (of being born in a state like Haryana–which is NOt representatve of all of India) she beats other sportspersons who have had far more support than her first at the national level, and then at the international level. She was a trailblazer definitely in her part of India, but subsequently, also for India itself when she became the first wrestler from India to win any international medal. Some basic research before writing the review could have cleared some of your doubts. Good luck.

    • Manu P Nair says:

      It is true that it is not good to call a critic a racist, but there was a tinge of snobbishness in the criticism. Part of the feeling was because the movie was not a western or European one which has a different angle of perception in almost all the good movies. Each movie has a perspective and reality based on the time and place the movie is made. You cannot just say “Pather Panchali” lacks camera sense. For that you have to understand the time in which the movie was made, the constraints …and then you fell the movie is a gem. “Dangal”- we all knew the story because it is based on true life. But still the movie was an inspirational one for me because I know India, its rural life, its masculinity, its poverty and much more. When the father says he dropped wrestling because he could not earn money, I cannot criticise the father or the director, because that life also exists in India. The father cutting off the hair of his children for a specific reason is still not considered as torture in India. This is a place which calmly accepts the freedom of children as shown in many of the movies and calmly accepts the need of discipline also. So when you find out such arguments, it will definitely hurt the general sentiments. As the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, be a Roman’ has to hold for everywhere.

  41. Amit says:

    Variety please get a critic who can provide unbiased review of Indian movies. For too long this blithering idiot has been reviewing Hindi movies and thinks of himself as a smart-aleck who “gets” Indian culture and movies just because he has watched a few!

  42. Sheila Sul says:

    I think you critics are really off base. The movie absolutely wpnderful and inspiring. Acting and wrestling suburb. So glad I don’t go by your reviews to watch a movie.

    You are way off base. Why doe everything you approve of with high ratings have to be so outlandish or weird?

    I enjoyed EVERY minute of it. Not one boring moment.

  43. Madhu says:

    My sincere advice to the reviewer is to stick to the crappy American movies dished out day in and day out and spare us Indians the pain in the you know what!!

  44. Sujata Banerji says:

    The complexity of India is lost on the reviewer. Wrestling for girls was unheard of in the village in the very patriarchal northern Indian state of Haryana where the Phogats live. Therefore the fact that there were many Indian women wrestlers in the national sports event is not an illogical leap. There are 1.2 billion people in India living in 27 states and 7 union territories and Haryana is just one of them. The women’s wrestling in the film is symbolic of overturning traditions. The film is more nuanced than you think.

  45. Pooja says:

    Was the best released in the year 2016. It’s a must watch sports biopic movie in Bollywood. Audience should go for it.

  46. SG says:

    I see any movie first and then read its review. Many a times I curse myself for this habit. But THIS time (read “for this review”) I did the right thing. With due respect Mr Critic, I must say, you better not review Bollywood movies.

  47. SK says:

    Dangal is a story based in the state of Haryana, which has a male dominated society that is more conservative than other parts of India. The girls in the National Sports Academy are not only from Haryana, they come from different parts of India and from different societies. Get your facts straight before criticizing. Don’t do just for the heck of it.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Mr Critic, you know nothing about india, let alone Mahavir and the Phogat sisters. Please stick to reviewing the endless list of avengers and dc movies Hollywood is dishing out.
    This is undoubtedly not “that” kind of movie, so far from your cup of tea.

  49. Jay Cee says:

    what a hack review. and your spoiler at the end was a classless move, let alone it was not “literally” an office as you say, it was a storage room.

More Film News from Variety