Aamir Khan fans might be excited about the release of Dangal, some of you might have watched the movie too by now, first day first show, no? Or even if you aren’t a fan, the trailer would have definitely caught your fancy or the tagline म्हारी छोरियाँ छोरों से कम हैं के ? This movie is also in limelight because of Aamir Khan’s incredible transformation in the movie.
Well, the storyline is based on the lives of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari Phogat. It is the story of a wrestler who could not win an International gold for the country in his career and wishes that his son would do the honour. Obviously, such a notion stems from the existing gender norms in our society where physical strength and hence taking up sports as a career is naturally associated with masculinity. However, life had other plans for the man who had four daughters and no sons. After an incident, Mahavir Singh decided to train his daughters who later won gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and qualified for Olympics too. Geeta Singh Phogat is a freestyle wrestler who holds the achievement of winning India’s first ever gold in wrestling in the Commonwealth Games of 2010. She is also the first Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics and has won the prestigious Arjuna Award. Babita too has won loads of medals including the gold in the 2009 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship.
In the book based Akhada, based on the Phogats, Saurabh Duggal writes that the mother of the Phogat sisters was disappointed to have given birth to daughters.
All this is nothing short of a miracle; wrestling has traditionally been considered a ‘man’s sport’ in India, add to this the fact that they belong to a village in Haryana- the state that has a skewed sex ratio and is notorious for violations of rights of women and girls. Geeta and Babita’s achievements are not just achievements for themselves and the nation but a major milestone in the fight for gender equality. It is not only about two women who made it great, it also speaks of how gender-based bias is rooted in our minds and also how this bias can be overcome, the way Mahavir did.Their story is indicative of how a change of mindset of an individual is capable of breaking taboos and doing away with misogyny.
-Anusree K P