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Did Dangal get its facts wrong? A fact check of Aamir Khan’s film

Aamir Khan's Dangal has been earning accolades and money at the box office, but a disgruntled voice has already been heard from Geeta's coach, PR Sondhi.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 29, 2016 3:23:10 pm
dangal movie Aamir Khan’s Dangal has been earning accolades and money at the box office, but a disgruntled voice has already been heard from Geeta’s coach, PR Sondhi.

Aamir Khan’s Dangal has been earning accolades and money at the box office. The Aamir Khan-starrer which has new actors — Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar — playing his daughters is based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat. A wrestler who had to give up on his dreams due to financial constraints, Mahavir went on to train his daughters Geeta and Babita into world-class champions.

The Phogat family has watched the film and praised it. Mahavir himself is in awe of Aamir and has said no other actor could have done justice to the role. Geeta has said in the interviews that the film is 99 percent true to their real life. But is it really so? A disgruntled voice has already been heard in the form of Geeta’s coach, PR Sondhi. He coached Phogat sisters Geeta and Babita as well as the 2008 Beijing Games bronze medal-winning side. He has claimed that the role of the coach (essayed by Girish Kulkarni) is loosely based on him and is planning to sue Dangal makers.

We went for a fact check on real vs reel in Dangal and came up with this…

Was Geeta’s coach the villain of the piece?

Aamir Khan, Dangal, dangal coach,.

While Girish’s character is shown as the film’s villain who is both incompetent and uninterested in getting his hands dirty, this is what Sondhi has to say, “They have changed the name to PR Kadam in the film, but somewhere the character is loosely based on my life. I have known Mahavirji for many years and he is a thorough gentleman. His two daughters have trained under me for more than three years and not once did he interfere. I don’t understand the need to show the character as such a taskmaster. There were four other coaches, who were also involved [in the training], but they haven’t been shown in the film at all,” he said.

Was Mahavir Singh Phogat locked in a room during Geeta’s match?
Sondhi has clearly said nothing of the sort happened. In fact, Mahavir was very much there when Geeta won the medal. This is also mentioned in Mahavir Phogat’s authorised biography.

Was Geeta’s Commonwealth Game match a cliffhanger?

Watch: Geeta Phogat’s match during Commonwealth Games

Going by the video of Geeta’s real match, she won it by 1-0, 7-0. That means Geeta was dominating over her opponent throughout the match and won the game in straight points. Unlike this real match, the film showed the reel game with scores 3-0, 4-6 & 6-5. That was obviously done to infuse twist and turns in the match and keep the audience on their toes.

Also read: Dangal: Aamir Khan film got this important detail of Geeta Phogat’s match wrong, watch video 


Was Mahavir disappointed at the birth of his daughters?

aamir khan, dangal, phogat girls
“One can perhaps imagine the state of Mahavir’s mind as the father of a daughter in the late 80s, when girls were considered a liability. But, ironically, it was not Mahavir but his wife, Daya Kaur, who was hoping that their first child would be a boy. When the baby was born, the chill of the winter morning stung a little more fiercely as Daya realised that their firstborn was a girl. Her disappointment showed clearly on her face.”

Also read: Dangal movie review: Aamir Khan, his Phogat girls show how blood, sweat, tears make champions


Did Geeta cut her hair before her Commonwealth match?

Launch of "UP Dangal"
While Geeta cutting off her hair right before her all-important match is an important part of the narrative, she didn’t have short hair in real life at that juncture. The video of the fight shows Geeta with long hair.


Also read: Phogat sister on Dangal: It feels like a video of our life

WATCH VIDEO | How Aamir Khan Lost Weight To Play Young Mahaveer In Dangal

Was Mahavir Singh Phogat the real-life Haanikarak Bapu?
Apparently, Mahavir was much more haanikarak than what Aamir portrays on screen. According to Mahavir’s niece Vinesh, a wrestler herself, “He was 10 times stricter, he was at a different level. At the India camp, it’s a very different kind of training than what we learnt at home.

Watch: Satyamev Jayate S 3 | Episode 1 | A Ball Can Change the World |


Under tauji (uncle), it was exercise and strength training in the morning and mat training during evenings. At the India camp, it’s very different and according to the need of each wrestler.”

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