Aamir Khan is a confused man. Aamir Khan is self-contradictory. Aamir Khan doesn’t follow what he preaches. These are some of the views doing the rounds on social media at a time when the actor is basking in the glory of the success of his latest sports flick Dangal, based on the life of wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita. The movie is breaking all box office records, beating demonetisation, and has already been declared a smash hit with many calling it “film of the year”. But some are just not happy with what the actor has shown in Dangal. And their objections somehow look meaningless.
National champion Mahavir Phogat succumbed to family pressure and quit wrestling to make both ends meet. However, the dream of winning gold made him do the unthinkable as he forced his daughters into wrestling. He made his daughters get up in the morning, undergo rigorous training, quit chulha chowka and cut short their hair to become medallist in women wrestling. And this is what has upset most of the critics who feel being cruel to and forcing one’s dream on their kids are what parents must avoid, a message conveyed in Aamir’s previous films 3 Idiots and Taare Zameen Par. And that makes Aamir self-contradictory and Mahavir Phogat a villain in the eyes of many.
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But it’s not just unfair for the actor, but also insulting for the man who made myriad sacrifices to make his daughters achieve something that no other girl in the country has come close to. The point that many critics have missed is the potential that Phogat spotted in his daughters which otherwise could have been wasted had he not guided their way to akhada. The scene where Geeta’s friend expresses her pain of being forced to marry an unknown without even her wish being considered, speaks a lot about Indian society and patriarchy. And this justifies what Mahavir Phogat did and Aamir portrayed every element convincingly.
Talk to Geeta and Babita, and they are always grateful to their father for giving a meaning, ambition, and objective to their lives. When the daughters have no complaint, why are the critics uncomfortable?
Phogat’s desire to have a baby boy also irked the feminist brigade. But that’s how the society is. And the change in the mindset happens gradually. In fact, they should laud Phogat for treating girls at par with boys, sometimes over them. “Mai apni chhoriyon ko itna kaabil banaunga ki chhorey unko nahi vo chhoron ko dekhey,” a strong and powerful statement that every father of a girl child should believe in and follow.
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The hardship and pain that Phogat sisters suffered in their run to glory made Mahavir Singh cruel in the eyes of many. He cut their hair short, he made them wake up early and take on boys to make them challenging enough for the real fight. And if that makes Mahavir barbarous, then every father who make their kids study harder should be seen from the same prism. “Medallist ped pe nahi ugtey, unhey banan padta hai, mehnat se, tapasya se.” And India’s dismal medal tally in big events reflects why the country need more Mahavir Phogats who could produce the real champions.
As far as Aamir is concerned, he is an actor who make films that reflects society. Experimenting with characters and doing justice to them is an actor’s strength. So those accusing him of being self contradictory with the message in 3 Idiots and Dangal should remember that Amitabh first played cop in Zanjeer who was after smugglers and then portryed the latter in Deewar to become a superstar. That was Amitabh’s strength as an actor. It is upto the audience to decide what character they want to follow.
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