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Gol gappas or gold medals? Which side of #Dangal are you on?


Strategic importance of vulnerability

Aamir Khan’s Dangal, apart from all the gushing reviews, has also resulted in an ‘accusation’. Of glorifying a patriarchal story in the garb of female empowerment. It is argued that Aamir’s character forces his dreams on to the helpless kids, robbing them of not only their childhood, but also any dreams they may have had for their own future.

There are two angles to this accusation – one is about gender power and the other about the parent–child power equation. Both, in this case have their flaws.

The first, about patriarchal glorification is hypocritical, in light of the emerging trends around us in urban India. Increasingly, mothers are becoming the dominant parent in charting the child’s educational/achievement journey. The celebrated P&G’s ‘Thank you mom’ or the ‘Tayyari jeet ki’ campaign by Bournvita are but some example of the same.

Strategic importance of vulnerability



One doesn’t see any chest beating around this being a worrisome matriarchal imposition. Or take the example of the delightful ‘Nil bate sannata’. If anything, the image is seen to be one of empowerment. A strong mother helping her child become strong, by pushing him/her beyond his/her limits. Does the same story become negative if we replace the mother with the father? I rest my case.

The second one, about parents imposing their ambitions and robbing kids of their potential and childhood is a more interesting debate. Especially, given the context.

In many sports, kids need to adopt a serious approach, at a very early age, well before they enter their teens. And we all celebrate stories of their ‘sacrifices’ when they achieve stardom in sports. In most such cases, it is highly unlikely they were in a position to choose a life devoid of childhood pleasures and filled with the painful rigour sporting excellence demands on their own. Should we stop celebrating such stories then? And maybe start feeling sorry for possibly 90% of our sporting icons for their lost gol gappas?

Till we reach an era where we can celebrate a purposeless, under achieving life of one’s own choice over that of reaching glorious heights at the cost of choice and life’s simple pleasure, maybe we should just enjoy a wonderful story, brilliantly told.