Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra, the two young actors who play Aamir Khan’s on-screen daughters in upcoming film Dangal, believe that working with the superstar changed them not only as performers, but also as individuals as they now feel more compassionate towards the society.
“I was never a person who would take interest in politics, social issues or current affairs. Since I have been working with AK (Aamir Khan) for the last two years not only as an actor for our film Dangal, but also as an intern, his concern and compassion towards society influenced me a lot,” Fatima said, who plays wrestler Geeta Phogat in the movie.
“Now I am more well-versed with what is the plight of water in our country, how farmers are suffering... That way, our outlook has changed towards society,” she added.
Seconding her, Sanya, who essays wrestler Babita Kumari in the movie, said, “Yes, that is true. Just observing him (Aamir) and knowing his thoughts and opinion on social issues, influenced both of us. I think it helped us to become better individuals.” Aamir is one of the Bollywood superstars who is known for his humanitarian works– whether it is his NGO Paani Foundation to work towards a drought-free Maharashtra or hosting a talk show like ‘Satyamev Jayate’ where he raised issues on social injustice and gave commoners a platform to voice their thoughts. Referring to the same, Sanya said, “As an actor, he gets all the love from the society that he wants to give back through has social works. I think that is a big lesson we have learnt that life is not just about solving our personal problems, but being compassionate towards society.”
Fatima added, “Now we know how small actions of every citizen can benefit a larger group of people.” Based on the real story of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat who trained his two daughters Geeta and Babita to become wrestling champion, Dangal also sends out the social message of gender equality. Both Fatima and Sanya not only went through a physical transformation to get under the skin of the character but also chopped their beautiful long hair.
While asked about how important the hair cut was to get a boyish look or if it was a way to establish gender equality, Fatima said, “If you are talking about feminism, I do not think look or hair cut has anything to do with an individual’s ideology. You can have a boy cut for you convenience and you may not be a feminist.”
Referring to the film’s story, Sanya said, “Since it is a biopic, in reality, Mahavir chopped their daughter’s hair for the convenience. Since wrestling is a body contact game, during the game, participants pull each other’s hair, which is risky and causes injury.
“I think keeping that fact in mind, Mahavir chopped his daughters’ hair from the beginning of the training. We followed the same thing.”