Aamir Khan and Dangal fans, before you raise your pitch forks, we’re not taking anything away from this brilliant film that indeed boasts strong female characters. The triumph of Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari at the Commonwealth Games and Mahavir Singh’s decision to teach them wrestling is inspirational, but claims of Dangal being the ultimate ‘feminist’ film are somewhat misplaced. The worry of feminists in the arts (be it literature, movies or music) is that the woman’s voice, her experience, is always squelched. She is a prop to support the leading character’s (aka the man) story and Dangal falls in this trap as well. It is Aamir Khan or Mahavir that we are invested in- the film begins with his dreams and how he fulfills those through his daughters.
— Dolce Namak (@Dolce_Namak) January 1, 2017
— Vigil Auntie (@shaistapatel) December 30, 2016
Girls, who grow up watching men in leading roles, are quite comfortable relating to a male protagonist. It’s not uncommon to hear a girl say she’d love to fight like Akshay Kumar or dance like Hrithik Roshan. But it’s very rare that you’ll find boys or men relating to the a female lead in the few women-centric films there are – not because they are incapable of it, but because the practice is so rare. Despite its success, when was the last time you heard a guy say that he’d love to handle a break up like Rani in Queen?
Modi is going to give his opinion on how Dangal is/not a feminist movie in his address to the nation on 31st
— MazelTov (@runjhunmehrotra) December 29, 2016
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What we are used to is a woman’s story being told from a man’s point of view. And this is exactly what Dangal does. We are told of what Geeta and Babita’s achievements mean to Mahavir, we are made to feel his hurt when Geeta breaks away from him. That’s not to say that Dangal doesn’t have some great stereotype-breaking moments (case in point: Geeta defeating Mahavir in wrestling), but the film is just a stepping stone in the evolution of Bollywood towards a more feminist climate.