Is Dangal Kind Of Parenting Justified?
Though the movie Dangal is running housefull, breaking all box office records, beating demonetisation, and has already been declared a smash hit with many calling it “film of the year”.
But many are condemning the faulty and dictatorial style of parenting shown in the movie. Dangal is the true story of a father’s bulldog-like determination to make his daughters’ gold medal winners for India, and the girls’ own passage from aversion to passion for the sport. Mahavir Singh Phogat is the typical Indian parent, trying to vicariously attain his own failed dream through his children. The only thing not typical about him are his methods, extreme, even by the tiger standards of pre-2000s parenthood (according to Geeta and Babita, the real people, the film shows barely half of what they endured growing up). Forced to cut her hair short as a schoolgirl, not eat junk food or watch movies, or dance at weddings, Geeta Phogat discovers, at the National Sports Academy, not just liberation from her father’s curfew hours, but a new life, one that allows her to be a sportsperson as well as a normal young girl.
The movie, many feel is that of a man driven by his male ego. Mahavir Singh Phogat, as shown in the film, is motivated purely by the desire for sporting glory–when he cannot get it himself, he wants to get it vicariously through his kids. Everything in the film is subsumed by this quest. Most of the internal life that the other characters of the film reveal is in the context of this man’s ego, and they all bend before his will. I strongly feel that parents should not stifle the dreams and aspirations of their children. Leading the way is very different from coercing children to follow their parents’ dreams and we need to understand the stark difference between the two. The Phogat of Dangal is an obnoxious character, if you consider his actions, especially in the first half of the film, when he treats his daughters as mere instruments for his ambition, and not as humans in their own right, with their own dreams and desires. (This is, in that sense, a regressive and not progressive film.) Mahavir never for once compromised on the quality and integrity a wrestler should have. He would always be extremely tough and strict on his daughters.
Is Dangal Contradicting Three Idiots And Taare Zameen Par
The dictatorial parenting in Dangal stands in sharp contrast to the message of Aamir’s previous movies such as Three Idiots and Taare Zameen Par, of believing in your child’s inherent strengths and allowing him/her to carve their own niche. ‘Perform Or Perish’ was ridiculed in these movies and is propogated in Dangal. 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 medalist 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.
Lesson in Disguise
The movie sure revolves around teaching your child to fight his/her own battles. Teaching our daughters how important it is for a girl child in India to achieve is the very soul of the movie. If your girl achieves, she inspires so many other girl children to achieve. A girl is not born or made to cook and give birth to children. She is born to achieve and you need to believe in them and their mettle. Many people believe that in light of the above facts, the Dangal parenting is definitely justified. “Perspective matters! How I would look at the movie is a father helping his daughters find an existential purpose in life and hand holding them to do so”, says a mom with three teenage daughters.