Aamir launched a new song from Dangal a couple of days ago, and carefully avoided commenting on anything controversial at the launch, from the monetary thing-I-don’t-fully-understand to the terrible thing that is too emotional for me to talk about. Maybe that’s why Aamir isn’t talking about it either? Or maybe it’s because he wants this movie to actually release without controversy.
No subtitles, gosh-darn it! But the visuals tell most of the story. In the middle of their childhood, Aamir suddenly announces to his two oldest daughters that they are in training now. And then they train and train while the girls sing a song about how mean their papa is. Yes? Is that more or less it?
It’s a super cute song, and I really like how it is from the kids’ perspective. Not just that it is their voices singing the song, but it is kind of a kids-eye-view of life. Mama, Papa, school, having to do things you don’t like every day, no sense of anything bigger than that.
I also like how they are handling the story of Aamir training his daughters. It’s not saying that this was easy or fun. These girls had a tough childhood and didn’t want to do all the things he made them do. And it’s acknowledging the shock of changing from a girl who wears modest clothes and goes to school and helps at the house, to being expected to run around the village in shorts every morning at dawn. Gender roles and expectations are hard to change, within yourself, even at a young age.
But it’s not saying, so far at least, that it was extra-hard because they were girls. That there was anything they couldn’t actually do, that he was asking too much of them, that he should have been easier on them just because of their gender. He was a tough Papa, just because he was, not because girls shouldn’t be asked to do that.