Two years after he starred in PK, the most successful Bollywood film ever having grossed an estimated $100 million or almost Rs 700 crore worldwide, Aamir Khan returns in wrestling drama Dangal which will open in North American theaters first on December 21, two days ahead of its release in India and other countries. Dangal is based on the real-life story of ex-wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat (played by Aamir) who was forced to give up his dream of competing in international competition due to financial constraints. But in a twist of fate, he fulfilled his ambition by training two of his four daughters into world-class wrestlers, while challenging the norms in Haryana’s strict patriarchal society. Aamir Khan tells The Hollywood Reporter that Dangal is “a very human story of courage and believing in yourself and your daughters.” When he was first offered the script, co-written by the film’s director Nitesh Tiwari, Aamir Khan said that in addition to being “inspiring and exhilarating, what took me by surprise is that there was a lot of humor in the story.” But the film also touches upon the more serious issue of female empowerment given that India has long been battling issues of gender-bias and violence against women. Aamir points that despite the odds, things are changing and that Dangal “will have a very positive effect. When there is a particular mindset in Indian society which has been around for centuries, it won’t change overnight but every attempt to look at things differently has its own impact and in that sense Dangal will have its own role to play in taking the issue [of female empowerment] forward.”
At this year’s Rio Olympics, India’s sports women made history with double wins. Sakshi Malik won the country’s first Olympic medal (a bronze) in women’s wrestling, while badminton player P V Sindhu became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal. “The only two medals won by India at the Olympics this year were by women,” adds Aamir. The actor, 51, is known to be a perfectionist in preparing for his roles such as in 2008’s Ghajini for which he went through vigorous weight training to achieve a muscular look.