Mahavir Singh Phogat & daughters watch Aamir Khan’s Dangal, come away overwhelmed

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The real met the reel when Haryana’s champion wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and his two wrestler-daughters Geeta and Babita watched Nitish Tiwari’s Dangal on Tuesday evening in Mumbai. The on-screen avatars of Phogat and his two daughters held their collective breath waiting for the verdict.

At the end of the lengthy but exhilarating film, Phogat simply held Aamir Khan who plays Phogat on screen and wept. Says director Nitish, “It was an overwhelmingly emotional moment for all of us when Mahavir Phogatji and his daughters Geeta and Babita watched the film. Our hard work was being judged by those whose lives we had put on screen. Luckily for us it paid off. Phogatji loved Dangal.”

Nitish was especially worried about what the two Phogat girls would think of their screen avatars’ wrestling skills. “When the real Geeta and Babita hugged Fatima and Saniya who play them, we finally heaved a sigh of relief. Getting Fatima and Saniya to be convincing as wrestlers was not easy. Wrestling is not an easy sport for men, let alone women. It requires huge amounts of physical force and strength which we had to build in the Fatima and Saniya. We were determined not to use computer-generated tricks to make their wrestling look convincing, nor use body doubles.”

– By Subhash K. Jha