*ing - Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Sakshi Tanwar, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar
The idea for this sports biopic took root from a newspaper article about a former freestyle wrestler who coached his daughters to wrestling gold. The wrestler is former national champion and a senior Olympic coach, Mahavir Singh Phogat, and the daughters are Geeta Kumari Phogat and Babita Kumari Phogat - Commonwealth gold medal winners. Director Nitesh Tiwari narrated the story to Aamir Khan when he started PK and the actor decided to do the movie after some thought, and under his banner Aamir Khan productions in association with Disney India.
Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former national champion in freestyle wrestling who could not pursue it at the international level due to family pressures. He dreams of bringing an international gold for the country through his son. But the dream faces a setback when Phogat and his wife Daya Sobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) have 4 girls. Through a minor altercation by his 2 elder girls Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar) with boys, Mahavir Phogat realises that he can train the 2 girls in wrestling to fulfill his dream of gold for the country. He convinces his wife and in spite of becoming a laughing stock among other villagers, he pursues his dream with resolve. The girls, though initially uninterested, realize their father's determination and start training seriously. The rest of the movie is the arduous journey of the 2 girls and how they bring glory to the country.
Whenever a director takes up a biographical sports drama, there is a challenge to have to keep the audience engaged through the movie because the ending of the movie is known to almost everyone. Nitesh Tiwari has put his best foot forward to try and accomplish it. He almost succeeds in it too. The movie has its own flaws here and there. The movie falls flat in some places and some songs slow the movie down. Also there are some cliches which are specific for sports dramas, like the finals almost always never has a strategy to win, it is just pep-talk. Though the movie highlights the social issue of discrimination against girls, it is not overwhelming. There are also many lighter moments in the movie which made the audience laugh heartily and some even have you in splits.
The performances from the actors are the best part of the movie. There are only 4 actors I know of, who can transform their body at their whim and make it seem easy - Christian Bale, Kamal Haasan, Vikram and Aamir Khan. Aamir Khan has given a stellar performance. He would have been licking his lips at the prospect of such a meaty role and he makes full use of it. The only imperfect part in his acting was his strained Haryanvi dialect. He worked hard in training the dialect but you cold sense the struggle in a few places. Fatima Sana Shaikh gives a whole-hearted performance and gives her everything to shine in the role. Though credited as a debutant, she is not at all new to movies, after all she debuted with none other than Kamal Haasan in Chachi 420 as Baby Sana. Sanya Malhotra also goes equally with Sana in her role as Babita Kumari and gives a classy performance. Sakshi Tanwar makes proper use of her screen presence and her casting is spot on. The surprisingly top notch performance comes from the 2 young girls Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar. Zaira, who was last seen in a Tata Sky ad as a Manipuri girl and the debutant Suhani have put in quality hard work and it is evident in the performance.
From the technical aspects, the one that stands out is the wrestling stunts. Kripa Shankar Bishnoi (National women's wrestling team coach) has done wonderful job of co-ordinating the wrestling stunts. The stunt moves are as real as they can get with minimal camera tricks used. Music by Pritam Chakraborthy augurs well with the movie. Satyajit Pande's cinematograhy is subtle as is necessary. Ballu Saluja's editing could have been better. The writers Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehrotra and Nitesh Tiwari need a special mention because of the dialogues that is not over-board and has many good moments.
Verdict: A clean sports drama that feels slightly sluggish, a must watch nevertheless