Olympian Vinesh Phogat says, albeit in a lighter vein, that uncle Mahavir Singh Phogat was “10 times stricter” than the ‘bapu hanikarak’ Aamir Khan portrays in ‘Dangal‘, a movie based on the life of the well-known coach and his proteges.
Vinesh is the daughter of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat’s younger brother Rajpal and the cousin of wrestlers Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari.
A Commonwealth Games medallist, Vinesh is a bit amused to find the kind of frenzy that the Khan starrer ‘Dangal’ has created with more people now wanting to know about Mahavir Phogat and his wrestler daughters and niece.
“It’s kind of strange that how much more popular the entire Phogat clan has become post release of Dangal. But what surprises me is the media frenzy post film release. I think the media that came with Aamir sir during Geeta di’s marriage outnumbered the ones who came after Sakshi (Malik) won bronze,” a smiling Vinesh said.
“Actually, I am so busy with my rehab at the JSW set up in Bengaluru that I have not been able to watch the film till now. Aamir sir had requested me to come to Mumbai for the premiere but I had to give it a miss as it would have hampered my rehab routine,” said the talented cousin of Geeta and Babita, and who got injured during the Rio Olympics.
Dangal team with Phogat sisters at Geeta’s wedding
‘Bapu hanikarak’ (harmful father) is one of the hit numbers of the sports film that highlights the struggles faced by Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari (daughters of Mahavir), while training to become acclaimed wrestlers.
When asked whether Mahavir Phogat was as strict as shown in the film, Vinesh laughed and said: “He was 10 times more strict than what I have been told has been shown in the film. He was at a different level. And obviously, at the India camp, it is very different kind of training than what we learnt at home. Under tauji (uncle), it was exercise and strength training in the morning and mat training during evenings.
“At India camp, it’s very different and according to need of each wrestler,” said Vinesh, an Indian Railways employee, who was felicitated by the department for being one of the star performers at international level in her sport.
“The doctors told me I could train from January but I would like to be 100 percent confident about my recovery. We have trials in March. Hope I am able to make the cut then,” she said.