A couple of days ago, my friend, Ajit Nair, shared on FB his views after watching ‘Dangal’. Here it is…

Watched 'Dangal' last night. While the movie making is fairly engaging and surely worth a watch there are some things have lingered on, placing them here in no particular order.

The story challenges patriarchy, but it also reinforces it as the father Mahavir Singh forces his dream upon his girls. They do well too. But then what were their own dreams?

It cements this further when Geeta is shown as beating her own father at a bout but then goes on to lose many international ones in a row. Geeta's struggle could have been explored further, as she tries to balance her own rooted identity with the excitement of the world out there. 'Dangal' instead leaves the audience with the message that says "Father is always right". It also ends up quasi accusing Geeta of indulging herself in movies, shopping a bit of life which she is denied otherwise by her disciplinarian father.

The tendency to paint her national academy coach as villain again plays to the gallery a bit too much but then remains credible as we all are well aware of how our athletes get treated, especially women. I, also, disliked the dash of jingoism in the end but then these days that is what sells!

'Dangal' remains a story, worth a watch for sure. It will, also, make some young girls want to strive more at sport, work really hard etc. But, does it truly showcase a story of emancipation against all odds and the independent flowering of a woman? Not at all.  Instead, it is the story of one very stubborn man who hoped to achieved his dream through his boys, but when God gave him girls, he pushed them no end to enter a male arena and take on the brawn. What was the girls' story, we"ll never quite know…

 I am a huge fan of Amir Khan and all his movies. Though I hadn’t watched ‘Dangal’ till I read Ajit’s views, I could immediately relate to what he was saying… So, I sent my following  response…

Brilliantly captured by u dear Ajit. I could immediately relate to this… as we all carry that silent guilt in us. Some twenty-five years ago, I wrote this note in one of THE DAWN CLUB books – ‘THE LATE BLOOMER’. Ever since then, I have delightfully watched our young boys and girls using this note/poem in our Public Speaking sessions… Maybe, because it is the universal truth. Allow me to share it, please…

I tried to make my younger brother
a great man…
Day in and day out, I sat with him
 tried to motivate him, coax him,
train him, guide him, support him,
and kept reminding him:
“One day, you shall be great.”

Many years passed by,
nothing dramatic happened;
I began to get frustrated, mad…

Then, one day, he coolly told me:
“Brother, there are mountains,
there are plateaus, and there are plains;
Is it necessary for \
every soul on this earth
to be great like a mountain?”

I started thinking…
I started thinking.

‘Dangal’ is a ‘true story’. It is a familiar household story… What Mahavir Sigh did to his daughters… most of us have done it or are doing it…or will be doing it to our own children… We all have those ‘broken dreams’ in us… and we all want our children or siblings to fulfill them…   Yes, ‘for us’!

Do I hear ‘No, we don’t’!!!

So, as an Amir Khan movie, I had no complaint about the movie. As a ‘true story’, I had no issues about it… I watched the movie just like any movie and left it at that. But, to claim that the movie ‘inspired’ me is to reinforce in the sadistic theory of forcing our dreams and desires on our innocent children… to deprive them of the dreams they had to explore on their own… As an elder brother of my two siblings, once, I had done it in my ignorance… only to emerge wiser in life. But, today, as a father, I would not do that… Nor I would allow my elder brother or father to do it to me, if I were to live my life all over again…

For, that’s too harsh… too suffocating for one’s soul!

No one has expressed this profound truth of parents-children relationship better than Kahlil Gibran had done it in his book, “Prophet’…

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

So, are we helping our children to live their own dreams… or, are we trying to live our own broken dreams through them?

And, that haunting question: Is is necessary for every soul on this earth to be 'great' like a mountain? Is there no place for a plateau or plain in God’s scheme of things… Are they not beautiful as well?

Pic.: Chetna Shetty


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