It is late in the night as I am returning after a memorable conversation with Geeta and Babita Phogat, the indomitable Phogat sisters who have inspired Nitesh Tiwari‘s eagerly awaited Dangal. As we entered their village Balali in Haryana today afternoon, there was a massive board at the entrance of the village that proudly states that Balali village is famous for international wrestlers Geeta, Babita, Vinesh and Ritu who have brought laurels for India from all across the world. Ask anyone and they shall guide you how to find your way to the Phogat household.
We were welcomed by Geeta Phogat. Her sister Babita (in a black track suit and t shirt) joined us in the Phogat Akhaada, that boasts of good quality mat, weights, ropes and the windows hold a panoramic view of green farming land. The fresh breeze and simplicity endears instantly. Geeta is having her marriage on November 20 with wrestler Pawan Kumar. Aamir Khan who essays Maheever Phogat, the ‘Haanikarak Bapu’ in Dangal will be attending the marriage and is also buying the wedding dress for Geeta as a gift. ‘I am very happy that Aamir sir is coming for my marriage. It is really nice of him to take out time and be part of our happiness,’ said Geeta who has been an Aamir Khan fan since Dil Chahta Hai. Babita on the other hand became an Aamir Khan fan since 3 Idiots.
Geeta and Babita are very happy with the tremendous response to the theatrical trailer and the first song ‘Haanikarak Bapu’. There’s a scene in the theatrical trailer where Geeta confesses she and Babita had beaten up two boys which triggered Mahaveer to start training her girls to become wrestlers. Recalling that scene, Geeta said, ‘I had kicked a boy in the stomach and I think he got hit badly.’ Babita chipped in regarding Sakshi Tanwar‘s dialogue that the two girls should forget that they have a mother for a year, ‘Our mother used to tell us that do this for two years, and then some more. Sakshi portrays our mother very well.’ Both the girls are in awe of the way Aamir has portrayed their father. They haven’t seen the film yet and will be most probably watching the full film in December.
Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra are portraying the older versions of Geeta and Babita respectively. The wrestling sisters revealed that both Fatima and Sanya were in regular touch with them to enquire about their diet, how they trained, how they wrestled. ‘Fatima and Sanya have worked really hard and both look very convincing,’ Geeta said. The duo is extremely grateful to their dad who trained them like a tyrant but for them he is a ‘Laabhdaayak Bapu’. Dangal is expected to break records in India and abroad and both the girls are super excited. But what is it that they want from life? ‘Our dad’s dream for us is that of winning an Olympic medal. We shall continue making efforts for that,’ both the sisters said almost in unison. Geeta had been training for 8 hours till yesterday and she shall continue training post marriage too. Babita is determined to continue winning laurels. ‘On the day of a bout, till the time the competition actually starts, I am all nerves, thinking, concentrating and when the bout begins I give it my all. I win sometimes, I lose too but I give it my all,’ Babita said with a childlike smile.
After meeting Geeta and Babita, the train of thoughts pictured how a father must have trained his daughters against all odds in an orthodox society and not only trained them, they went on to bring laurels for the country at the highest level. I meet heroines on a daily basis but the inspirational flavour of two true heroines is unmatched. And it lingers on and on.