Comparison is the fuel of Bollywood at the moment, what with the many clashes (read: Mohenjo Daro and Rustom; ADHM and Shivaay) we have seen in 2016. However — and we never thought we would say this before its release — Aamir Khan's Dangal seems to be doing everything right, where Salman Khan's Sultan went wrong.
Allow us to elucidate.
After its intriguing trailer, Dangal's first song, 'Haanikarak Baapu' revolves around Aamir Khan coaching his daughters to become competent wrestlers. The song is shot and sung from the girls' point of view, where they seen working out really hard, training their bodies to be wrestlers, and facing the wrath of Aamir, who is shown to be brutal with them in their training.
You don't need us to tell you that Aamir can really act. He plays the stern father part with complete conviction, and it works well for a song that laments about this very fact.
'Haanikarak Baapu' is peppered with dialogues; Sakshi Tanwar, who plays Aamir's wife and mother to the girls, has her Haryanvi accent bang on. Aamir rocks a dad bod (an elderly man with a paunch and a flawed, yet desirable body, for the uninitiated) in this film, much like Salman in Sultan. However, he is a lot more nonchalant about it.
The song itself is catchy, and we're sure kids will love it, but the real champion of 'Haanikarak Baapu', and by extension Dangal, is its nuanced and unbiased portrayal of the fact that it is actually two girls who Aamir trains; his daughters.
Yes there are dialogues that boast about it, ('maari chhoriya chhoro se kam hai ke?') and news reports to plump it up (Aamir apparently gave a wedding gift to Geeta Phoghat) but the topic of gender has been dealt with maturely. You can see Aamir's growth as a father through the course of the song, and how the girls shed their inhibitions about their gender as well.
This is a real win at a time when we need the biggest patriarch of Bollywood to convey a message about feminism.
Sultan tried very hard to do the same, and with Anushka Sharma's Aarfa, it managed to tick some of the right boxes, but ultimately the film failed in its attempt, by deciding to deify Salman instead of furthering Aarfa's journey.
Here's hoping Dangal lives upto its promising trailer and songs. Watch Haanikarak Baapu here: