I recently watched an Indian movie, Dangal, which took over two hours of my time but I can say it was worth it. So I’m sharing the lessons I gleaned from it with the hope that it’ll inspire someone.
It’s the story of a man who was a former wrestler but was unable to pursue his dream of representing his country in international matches. Due to his failed dream, he decided that he was going to pass that dream on to his children. After 5 failed attempts to conceive a son to carry on his wrestling dream, he stopped trying and stayed with his daughters until one day when he saw the possibilities of his daughters wrestling. He started forcing his daughters to embrace wrestling – which they did not like and resisted, but after a while, they embraced the sport.
Wondering why they changed all of a sudden despite the great discomfort it caused them? They realized the tradition in India where most fathers marry off their daughters and see no value in them. Even though their father’s dream was not theirs, at least it meant that he saw them beyond house chores and cared for them enough to pass on his dreams of becoming a global champion.
With a renewed interest, they started pursuing that dream. As usual, movies have up and down moments where it was not all rosy for them and they did not win all matches, still I was able to pick out a few lessons and relate them to how they can positively shape our lives.
Embrace ideas and allow ‘life’ lead you
One thing that stood out for me was that wrestling was not initially their passion, it was their father’s. Whilst I agree that forcing children to follow your path may not always work in the modern day, I also feel that these ladies would have most likely ended up the same way most of their peers did (unhappy in a strange husband’s house) without anything to dream and hope for.
Sometimes life has plans for us and we may be oblivious to them because we are uninformed about many things. For those still struggling to find their purpose, I believe you should just let yourself be free and open to various things before deciding. These ladies were open and even after getting into wrestling, winning the medal and becoming all grown, they could have chosen to give up after, but today, they are a source of inspiration to thousands of ladies in India.
Don’t forget your roots
This was one of the parts I found really interesting. The senior daughter, Geeta, moved into national champions bootcamp, learned new things and became more independent. When she came home for the holidays, she got into a conflict with her father, who was her first coach, on how his methods were old and contested with him in a mini fight, and eventually won him.
This made her proud of her ways and mini-enemies with her dad but it later backfired and she came back to beg her father who eventually coached her towards winning her first commonwealth games.
You may think this is the typical way films are plotted (I also felt that way) to make you scared never to go against your parents because you would end up doomed! That’s not the point I am trying to make here.
The point is this: her father trained her from a young age and knew her strength and weakness even more than the experienced coach, so he was able to position her better than her coach. Your roots are the people around you that always give you feedback, the moment you feel you are too big to listen to anyone or to take feedback, then you are on your way down. If you are at this stage in your life where you are struggling, then you need to check that you have good roots (friends, mentors, parents, siblings and other positive influence). They may be the one to help you find that thing you have been looking for.
Be deaf to detractors
When they started getting wrestling, there were a lot of talks here and there; the whole village talked about them, even schooling became difficult for them. They were made fun of because of their haircut and life was seemingly made more difficult. Still, they were able to shut out those negative noise, mockery and distraction. It may not be easy but one thing you need to realise is that not everyone can see what you are seeing. Only listen to people you are sure understand your vision and are willing to support you.
Laslas, you will be alright
When they wanted to go into wrestling, one of the fears from the ladies and even their mother was that no one would want to marry them (which looks like stating the obvious because female wrestlers are not seen as attractive to men). One thing their father said, which struck me, was that when they become successful, men would come for them. The movie was based on a true life story, so I Googled the wrestlers and realised they are now both married to fellow wrestlers.
Sometimes the things you greatly fear when you are led to pursue your dream may just be a minority in the big picture of things. When I am in a crossroad and I begin to start bothering about an uncertainty that has not even happened yet, I just tell myself that “laslas, I will be alright” and I keep on at it without letting anything hinder me. At the end, they became alright, they got the international medal they wanted and still got their husbands and even kids.
I hope this life lessons would not only inspire you but help you take this first step that you have been delaying for such a long time.