Geeta Phogat & Babita Kumari's Dangal With Life
Girls as wrestlers, does it fit the ideal image of an Indian woman? Sure it does not, but who cares about fitting in, when you’re paving your own path.
Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari are living examples of true grit and determination.
Geeta scripted history by winning the first-ever gold medal for India in wrestling, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She also became the first Indian woman to have qualified for the Olympics in 2012.
Babita Kumari also won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, a bronze medal at the 2012 World Wrestling Championships. She’s a gold medallist of 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Wrestling continued for both sisters when practising in the makeshift akhada. And, off the ground with people who opposed their decisions. Their journey was fraught with challenges, and the Phogat sisters were not given an option to stand back. Father, Mahavir Singh Phogat’s rock solid support motivated his daughters to excel in a sport which is considered fiefdom of men.
In 2014, Phogat sisters, Geeta and Babita appeared in Aamir’s unique talk show, Satyamev Jayate, which focuses on various social issues. The wrestling duo said that since they belong to a family of wrestlers, it was natural for them to take up wrestling. But, their father was the main driving force behind their success.
Mahavir’s girls, were the only women from their family and village, Balali, to pursue wrestling as a career. That’s a phenomenal feat. To defy scores of villagers, to wrestle with men in plain view, is a victory of courage.
Naturally, since they were the first wrestlers among the women in a village, they didn’t have any fellow women wrestlers to fight with. But, Phogat didn’t back out. He pushed his girls to take on men.
The family was ostracised for encouraging their daughters to wrestle. But, after winning accolades and medals worldwide, they were hailed as trailblazers. Families are now considering wrestling as a career option for their girls, and enrolling them under the tutelage of Mahavir Phogat.
The upcoming biological sports drama, Dangal, depicts the life story of Mahavir Phogat, played by Aamir Khan, and his daughters - Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, who countered innumerable hardships to become champion wrestlers.
It makes for a compelling story to be repeatedly told and take inspiration from. Let’s all pledge to motivate our daughters to excel, and stand by them in trying times.