How Dangal shows the challenges in Indian parenting

  • Jan 25 , 2017

One of the best Bollywood films to have been released in 2016 is undoubtedly the Aamir Khan starred Dangal. This film had built up considerable interest among the audiences and clearly did not disappoint a single bit. Though the wrestling techniques are constantly being talked about, a message which can be taken from here is the one with regards to parenting in India.

How parenting in India is tough

Parenting is a tough task in any part of the world, and India is no different. How we stand apart from most part of the world is the way in which we listen to voices of society. In Dangal, one could see several suggestions from the village on how to give birth to a baby son. Though both parents Aamir and Sakshi did listen to some of the suggestions (feeding the black bull), deep inside they knew it wouldn’t help. Aamir realised that his dream of getting a gold medal for India may only be fulfilled by a son, and the hopes kept getting dashed after four daughters were born.

What is nice here is that though Aamir was disappointed at not having a daughter, he did not even once express disappointment at any of his daughters. When his wife Sakshi saw his misfortune, she did feel sorry inside and said, “Main aapko ek bhi chora na de saki” (I couldn’t give you a single boy). Aamir’s response also suggested that he accepted his fate without blaming others, “Ismein teri kya galti hai?”(What’s your fault here?)

Photo Courtesy: Cinestaan

Role as a coach

Can you imagine having your own father as a coach for any sports activity? As tough as it may sound to you, similar situations are experienced by fathers as well. On one hand, Aamir would wake up his daughters Geeta and Babita at 5 am and then push them to start vigorous exercises. On the other hand, after they had been through the drills for several days, he himself enters their room as they are asleep and presses Geeta’s feet. His expressions clearly show how he understands the kind of pain that the daughters have been subjected to so far.

After a few minutes, Sakshi is shown entering the daughters’ room as well. They have a chat in which Aamir expresses how difficult it is to be a coach on one side and father on the other. While one has to be very tough and unforgiving in terms of training, the other needs to have some mercy as well.

It is not just the father who feels the pressure of parenting here. Even the mother struggles to meet family needs in this situation. Sakshi has to be diplomatic, where she cannot completely on the sides of any party- whether the father or the daughters.

At times she does lean on the side of her daughters, such as the scene in which she allows them to go to the Mehendi ceremony of a friend. Despite the troublesome situation in which Aamir forcibly retracts his daughters, they learn their life’s toughest lesson. It is the friend who is to be married who tells them how their father is fighting for their rights, and not simply making them do household work, unlike her own father.

At the end of the day, parents have their own ways of making children understand. Some are a little tougher than others. But the kind of challenges they face is enormous, which have been clearly shown in Dangal.