Has sports opposition ‘mat’ its match?
The Aamir Khan biopic, ‘Dangal’, has been trending across the country and beyond, for its tale that challenged stereotypes in sports. Café looks into whether this kind of production could really pave the path for future athletes in GoaLaunched as recently as December 23, 2016, Aamir Khan’s latest blockbuster seems to be making the news for all the right reasons. Granted, it was always going to be in the news because at the end of the day, it is an Aamir Khan production. However, this time around, the theme of the movie in itself is already beginning to challenge the system that it addresses.
The first point addressed: Aamir portrays former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trains his two daughters, Geeta and Babita, to be wrestlers even at a time when such a thought was frowned upon, which the movie has depicted with crystal clarity. The girls take on local chauvinists of all ages, shapes and sizes, because their father has decided to transform them into world-class wrestlers.
The second point addressed: The corruption and lack of support offered to sports is clearly depicted by way of Aamir’s argument as Mahavir, that says “Medal laane ke liye support koi na deta ... par medal na mile toh gaali sab dete hai.” Translated, it simply states that no one supports you in your quest to get a medal, but when you don't win one, everyone curses you. His other arguments are highlighted in his fight to get his daughters financial aid, his fight to get his daughter leave of absence from school, to train and so on. In a country that turns to its celebrities to lead the way, which at the same time has often proven itself to be one that forgets issues with the passage of time, one needs to ask whether this is a cue for sports to be analysed, afresh; both from the point of view of parents who have children looking at a sporting career; as well as the officials that govern bodies that are in place to facilitate these same aspirational candidates, without prejudice.
Café speaks to a couple of sports professionals from specialised areas, asking them just how much these kind of productions can alter the fate of sports that do not get much recognition in the country: These movies serve as inspiration. I have personally seen a lot of associations try to approach Bollywood superstars, to try and get them on board as brand ambassadors. This is primarily down to the fact that they motivate people to get into things that have only been a dream until now. I feel that a film like ‘Dangal’ could see a rise in people wanting to get into such sports, as they can see the downside and hardships of such a sport, as well as the advantages. It’s not easy and requires a lot of personal and physical commitment, but at the end of the day, it is worth it.
These films highlight a system that is in need of a revamp. To be honest, very often there are deserving candidates that get overlooked in favour of those who have a bit of clout. This is far from fair and is what requires to be shaken up. I can see this film inspiring a lot of people to get into such sports, and fortunately, Goa is a much smaller state where justice towards potentially great athletes may see the light of day, as opposed to say a state like Maharashtra, where one deserving child could be lost in a massive number of applicants. As far as karate is concerned though, we seem to be having a massive amount of transparency, thus far.
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